Dr. Percifield’s presentation and research poster, ‘Suicidality and Psychosis Following Vaping Related Lung Injury’, explores how using e-cigarettes to vape tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) “places individuals at a significantly increased risk for the development of psychotic disorders” and “compounds an already elevated risk of psychosis to an extreme degree.”From the Grand Rapids Business Journal article highlighting the award:
“Research has previously shown that individuals who consume THC are three times as likely as those who do not to develop a psychotic disorder,” Percifield stated. “Vaping solutions increase this risk more than sixfold due to the potency of the vaping solution, which on average contains 52% THC versus the 13% THC contained in the marijuana flower.”
The increased risk of psychosis is especially noteworthy when considering trends in e-cigarette use among adolescents, Percifield noted.
“It’s a growing problem,” Percifield said. “In 2019, 46% of high school seniors reported vaping of some kind, up from 34% in 2016. More significantly, 21% of those surveyed in 2019 stated they vape marijuana, more than doubling the figure from a similar 2017 survey. Of all those who vape, over 60% said they do it to experiment.”
Percifield’s research findings note the known impact of THC consumption on development of psychosis, the high potency of THC vaping solutions and the increased use of e-cigarettes among adolescents place that population at an increasing risk of psychiatric illness.
“Research shows that many adolescents vape to experiment — just to try it out. Others report they vape because it tastes good. It’s critically important, however, that we increase awareness that vaping can have long-lasting effects on both physical and mental health. Adolescents who vape, especially if vaping marijuana, are placing themselves at an exponentially increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder, and that can have a lifelong impact,” Percifield added.
Dr. Percifield is a resident physician and first year Child & Adolescent Fellow with the Pine Rest Psychiatry Residency & Fellowship Program. His clinical areas of expertise include Child & Adolescent and Addiction Psychiatry.