Newly published research in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found an association between vaping either nicotine or THC and psychotic experiences among American college students. The data analyzed in the study came from the Healthy Minds Survey administered to 29,232 students from 36 American universities from September thru December of 2020.

In the study, investigators assessed the relationship between past-month nicotine or THC vaping and past-year psychotic experiences while accounting for the effects of confounding variables (variables that are potentially associated with both the exposure and outcome). According to the results of the analysis, students who reported past-month vaping were 1.9 times more likely to have suffered psychotic experiences. This statistically significant association persisted even after accounting for the effects of age, gender, race/ethnicity, cigarette and marijuana use, and depression and anxiety.

Drug Free America Foundation epidemiologist Dr. Sharif Mohr stated “The results of this study raise serious public health concerns. We know from previous research that heavy, frequent use of nicotine can increase risk of psychosis and schizophrenia approximately twofold, while daily, frequent use of high-potency marijuana products can result in up to a fivefold increase in the risk of psychosis.”

Dr. Mohr went on to say, “Vape products typically contain very high concentrations of THC or nicotine and use of these products is highly prevalent among young adults in the USA. It’s just another sad example of a for-profit addiction industry being able to thrive under the auspices of a moribund regulatory framework. Unless lawmakers move quickly to implement potency caps for nicotine and THC vape products, we are very likely to see a large uptick in the incidence of psychotic disorders among young people in this country.”



Oh H, Banawa R, Lee JO, Zhou S, Huh J. Vaping and psychotic experiences among college students in the United States. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Sep 1;227:108987. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108987. PMID: 34488073.

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