Monday, December 03, 2007

drugs and mental illness

deutsche Version



I can get quite furious about certain parts of the media that want us to believe that drugs (e.g. cannabis) cause mental illness (e.g.schizophrenia), when there is absolutely no evidence at all that the observed statistical link is causal in this direction. There are at least two other interpretations of the same data, namely

1) that an as yet undiagnosed, early stage mental illness makes people more likely to try and enjoy mind-altering drugs, and

2) that both the mental illness and the drug addiction are consequences of the same or similar neural disorders.

A paper in Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American
Psychological Association (APA), now presents evidence that -- at least in rats -- damage to the amygdala has effects that support explanation no. 2.

Wouldn't it be nice if this could put an end to the headlines screaming that drug X "causes" mental disease Y ? Sadly, I guess that this will be largely ignored by the press. (I proposed a news item on this but was turned down!)

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