Cannabis users asked to keep it real

Understanding psychotic-like experiences in young cannabis users is the focus of a new study at The University of Queensland.

The research team is seeking people aged between 16 and 25 who have used cannabis at least once in the past month to participate in the project.

UQ School of Psychology researcher Professor Leanne Hides said there was strong evidence linking cannabis with unusual psychotic-like experiences in young people.

“Unusual experiences include odd thoughts and occurrences, like thinking people are out to get you in some way or seeing or hearing things other people can't,” she said.

“People can have these psychotic-like experiences while using cannabis or even long afterwards, so it’s a relationship we need to learn more about.”

The research team will evaluate the results and cost-effectiveness of an online program called Keep It Real, which aims to help young cannabis users identify if they’re at risk.

“A pilot study found that participants who engaged in the Keep it Real program reported reductions in cannabis use, psychotic-experiences and associated distress,” Professor Hides said.

“The program provides users with feedback on how many other people of a similar age and gender report psychotic experiences after ingesting cannabis.

“The seven modules can be completed in two or three half-hour sessions, and help them figure out if their experiences are similar to others.

“It also teaches them simple ways of dealing with these experiences as well as other stressors.”

Participants who complete the confidential survey will go into a draw to win a $100 gift voucher - full details can be found online.