Substance Use Patterns and Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A Retrospective Study of Inpatients at a Community Teaching Hospital

Terence Tumenta, Oluwatoyin Oladeji, Manpreet Gill, Basim Ahmed Khan, Olaniyi Olayinka, Chiedozie Ojimba, Tolulope Olupona


Background: Schizophrenia is one of the chronic mental illnesses, characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, and cognitive decline. It frequently leads to a lifetime of impairment and disability that span the entire lifespan of the patients. Several epidemiologic studies have shown that schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) contribute significantly to years lived with disability. Additionally, substance use disorders have been reported to co-occur commonly among patients with SSD (a comorbidity also known as dual diagnosis), attracting notable attention over the past few decades. This dual diagnosis often requires treatment modifications to ensure for best patient outcomes.

Methods: This study was a retrospective review of the electronic medical charts. The patients included in the study were discharged from the psychiatric unit of our hospital between July 1, 2017 and October 31, 2017. Patients were included in the study using three inclusion criteria: 1) age >=18 years; 2) had a diagnosis of SSD at discharge; and 3) had urine drug screen performed. Sociodemographic and clinical variables were abstracted. Univariate analysis and summary statistics were performed. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were done via logistic regression models to determine the odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding P values (P).

Results: A total of 365 (52.2%) patients had a diagnosis of SSD at discharge. Of these, 349 met the inclusion criteria. The age ranged from 19 to 79 years, with a mean age of 42.2 years, and 76.8% of the patients used substances. Out of the 269 patients who used substances, 199 (74%) used two or more substances. Tobacco use was most prevalent (62.3%), followed by cannabis use (41.5%), alcohol use (40.2%), and cocaine use (27.4%). Patients who reported using tobacco, were more likely to have comorbid alcohol use (OR = 7.24; P = 0.000), cannabis use (OR = 2.80; P = 0.000), cocaine use (OR = 5.00; P = 0.000), and synthetic cannabis (K2) use (OR = 4.62; P = 0.048). Results of the multivariate analyses supported the other findings.

Conclusions: Our study found a high association between schizophrenia spectrum disorders and substance use, with three out of four patients with SSD using a substance. This prevalence is higher than previously reported by other studies. Among those who use substances, about three in four use multiple substances. These point to some interaction between the substances and appear to be heavily influenced by significant social determinants of mental health that continue to plague the community. It is important to establish if a patient with schizophrenia has a comorbid substance use disorder, because addressing both generally leads to better patient outcomes.

J Clin Med Res. 2020;12(12):803-808


Substance use; Schizophrenia; Schizophrenia spectrum disorders; Mental health; Public health

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