Cannabis Related Hospital Admissions Rise
Aug 28, 2007 by Peter Jameson
Data obtained by shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley revealed that mental health hospital admissions due to cannabis use in England rose by 85% under Labour.
In 1996-7, there were 510 admissions, rising to 946 in 2005-6.
During the last five years alone there was a 65% rise and experts believe that the figures are just "the tip of the iceberg".
The figures which were obtained from Health Minister Rosie Winterton in a written House of Commons answer relate to patients admitted to hospital in England because of a mental or behavioural disorder due to the use of cannabis.
It should be noted that ‘admissions’ are not the same as ‘patients’ and one patient may have been admitted more than once.
The figures include people with a chronic addiction to cannabis; people with an acute cannabis psychosis; and those with cannabis related schizophrenia.
Experts warned that many more cases were probably missed because they were simply diagnosed as a general mental health disorder.
Professor Robin Murray who is a professor of psychiatry at London's Institute of Psychiatry and also a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said, "There is no doubt that cannabis related psychiatric problems have increased substantially. This might be down to better recognition but I would say these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Its only more recently that psychiatrists have understood the importance of cannabis use”.
He said cannabis use was known to be a contributing factor in up to 10% of schizophrenia cases and cautioned that this figure was low due to the number of cases not being recognised as cannabis related.
Marjorie Wallace of the mental health charity SANE said, "There are probably 1,500 new cases of cannabis-related schizophrenia a year and psychiatrists have been telling us that 80% of patients admitted with their first episode of psychosis have been taking the drug. We strongly urge the government to heed the growing evidence and take urgent action to warn young people that some of them are risking lifelong mental illness and that they are playing Russian roulette with their minds”.
Paul Jenkins, the chief executive of the Rethink mental health charity said: "These figures show that there is an urgent need for a properly funded campaign to help young people realise that cannabis use is risky”.