Increasing numbers of research investigations have documented psychosocial, demographic, and treatment course differences between schizophrenic patients with and without additional substance use disorder. However, many of these studies have failed to control for additional psychiatric diagnoses. This study sought to elucidate differences between schizophrenic patients with versus without coexisting substance use disorder, while controlling for the possible confounding impact of additional Axis I or Axis II diagnoses. We explored the records of 308 psychiatric inpatients who were either solely diagnosed with schizophrenia or solely diagnosed with coexisting schizophrenia and substance use disorder. We compared these two groups on a variety of psychosocial, demographic, and clinical variables shown in prior research to differentiate these two types of patients. Findings revealed that substance use interacts with schizophrenia to increase psychiatric admissions and decrease lengths of stay upon admission. Findings also revealed that patients with coexisting substance use and schizophrenia have unique psychosocial and demographic presentations that reflect more challenging life circumstances. Differences were not revealed between groups in terms of legal and criminal involvement. Based on pure diagnostic groupings, findings indicate that an additional substance use disorder is associated with psychosocial, demographic, and treatment course differences among individuals with a schizophrenia diagnosis. When screening, developing treatment, and planning aftercare, it is crucial to not view individuals with schizophrenia diagnoses as a monolithic group, but rather to consider the presence of a substance abuse diagnosis; such consideration will increase the likelihood of appropriate treatment and successful outcomes.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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