Friday Factoids: Double Trouble ? A Brief Look at Comorbid Substance Use in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia affects one in every one hundred persons with half of those affected likely to experience co-morbid substance use (as cited in Hunt et al., 2018). This use, in turn, exacerbates the overall symptomologic course of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been associated with an increased frequency of adverse consequences (Hunt et al., 2018).



In comparison to those who are singly diagnosed with schizophrenia alone, persons with co-morbid alcohol and/or illicit drug use are more likely to experience “hospitalization, homelessness, aggression, violence, incarceration, and suicidality” (as cited in Hunt et al., 2018, p. 234).



Specifically pertaining to an increased frequency of hospitalizations, Schmidt, Hesse, and Lykke (2011) found that patients who were dually diagnosed with schizophrenia and substance use disorder were psychiatrically hospitalized two times more frequently than individuals who were diagnosed with schizophrenia alone. Likewise, this group of patients were three times more likely to experience an outpatient episode, including emergency room visits. (Schmidt et al., 2011). However, the duration of their treatment was typically briefer (Schmidt et al., 2011).




Hunt, G. E., Large, M. M., Cleary, M., Xiong Lai, H. M., & Saunders, J. B. (2018). Prevalence of comorbid substance use in schizophrenia spectrum disorders in community and clinical settings, 1990-2017: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 191, 234-258. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.07.011



Schmidt, L. M., Hesse, M., & Lykke, J. (2011). The impact of substance use disorders on the course of schizophrenia – A 15-year follow up study: Dual diagnosis over 15 years. Schizophrenia Research, 130, 1-3, 228-233. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.04.011



Shirreka Mackay, LPC
Practicum Student, Western State Hospital



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