Schizophrenia by cannabis new myth.
by our reporter Koen van Eijk.
Castricum - During the 1930´s, you would ´become homophilia´ from cocaine use. In the 1970´s, schizophrenia was caused by failing parenting by the mother. It all turned out to be a hoax. Again, a new medical myth appears to be born: Now you become schozophrenic from hash and weed.
Psychiatrist Daniel van Dijk was surprised when he heard the news last
week: The use of hash and weed, cannabis, would be the cause of 200 more schzophrenia patients in the Netherlands each year. The media reported this on basis of a Trimbos-Institute research. According to Trimbos, even people without genetical indications would become psychotic of the intensive use (smoking) of cannabis. The underlying message: Softdrugs are not as innocent as being claimed. Coffeeshops are places that threaten the health of the youth. Dr. van Dijk, who works at the Duin en Bosch Psychiatric Hospital in Castricum, could hardly believe the Trimbos-Institute came up with a research containing such explicit results, out of the blue. If anyone knows what is going on in the area of schizophrenia and drugs, in Holland and far beyond, it is van Dijk. At the Duin en Bosch hospital, he is working on a research into the connection between psychic diseases and cannabis for years. He does not want to be called an authority, but he belongs to a group of experts in this area in the Netherlands. ¨I started to investigate it. It appearred there was no such thing as a new research, but a combination of several old researches. The conclusions attached to all this are extremely short sighted.¨ said van Dijk. ¨I have told that to Harald Wychgel of the Trimbos in a radio transmission. He replied that he did not say that cannabis causes schizophrenia, but that the mediadid. OK, but he did not say it was not so either. Now, the harm has already been done.¨
Van Dijk brings up the examples of cocaine use and homosexuality, and schizophrenia and the mother. ¨In the 1930´s there was a lot of cocaine snorting going on in the circles of the artists, authors and journalists, the so-called bohemians. Together with this, the people within this group did not have a problem with showing their sexual stances than other Dutch people. There was a connection between cocaine and homosexuality, but not any substabtial connection.¨ The idea that mothers are responsible for causing schizofrenia in their child, took place according to the same mechanism. Van Dijk: It was discovered that mothers of schozphrenics could not let go of their children. That was supposed to be the reason the kids would go schizophrenic. It turned out to be the contrary, afterwards. The children got a lot of extra attention because they were already not well. It was adeqaute, and not damaging behaviour by the mother.¨ If an image is already being sketched, it is difficult to undo this. A lot of mothers have been tormented by feelings of guilt, in case their son or daughter were diagnosed to have schizophrenia. This effect lasted quite some time. Eventhough the story was considered untrue by medical science, this was not the case in the surrounding of the suffering families of schizophrenics. The ´schizophrenogen mother´ has been the topic of rumours and slander for a long time. Van Dijk warns for a false interpretation of the facts in this current discussion around cannabis and schizophrenia. ¨These kinds of statements cause a lot of damage and unrest. I have been called by parents of schizophrenic children three times, this week. One Mother even asked me: Would my son not be sick if I would have managed to keep him away from the coffeeshop?
In the meanwhile, it is known there is a connection between cannabis and schizophrenia. Everybody working in the psychic health care will confirm that schizophrenics are heavy cannabis smokers. Van Dijk´s research proves that scientifically. Out of mentally healthy Dutch males between 20 and 40, 5 to 10 % smoke cannabis. Schizophrenic males in the same agegroup smoke a lot more cannabis: 60% But if smoking cannabis in early puberty will subsequently trigger schozophrenia at an older age, can not be proven by van Dijk. It seems more that many patients use it as self medication, a theory that is being in doubt within psychiatry. From his own research amongst 176 schizophrenia patients, van Dijk discovered that a lot of the patients smoke cannabis to combat the side effects of psychosis preventing medication. By smoking cannabis they feel less stiff, experience more emotions and in some cases the can enjoy having sex again. Van Dijk gives an example of one of his seriously psychotic patients, who would go wild over the smallest causes. He was put on an other medication and received psychotherapy, through which he managed to decrease his drugs consumption. The results are encouraging. The boy is more relaxed and wants to start working in a normal job. He has not been in isoltion for a long time. Finding a job might just give him the last little push in the right direction.
Van Dijk notices how in the current political climate the tolerance policy is being up for discussion, with mixed emotions. ¨If a drug free world were possible, I would be in favor of that. Unfortunately, our society is not like that. Everything prohibited attracts criminals. As a doctor I
say: In favir of natinonal health all bad things should be legalised. In several cities in the Netherlands, free heroin was issued to a group of junks during a research. These junks started to take good care of themselves, they became healthier, started working and quit stealing. And take the situation on the premises of Duin en Bosch. We had a housedealer from Bakkum here. That went fine, until that man ended up in jail for a while. Then, pushers came calling here. They gave the patients a freebie the first time. They came back the next day, and turned to one of the patients, a young boy: Pay up now, or we´ll ripp your head off. This really happened. Such a volnourable boy, who already thinks he is being followed by the KGB, sees all his fears confirmed like this.¨