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... and among young schizophrenics.

... and among young schizophrenics

A study of young adults with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders who participate in an intensive community support program reveals pervasive alcohol and illicit drug use. Of 72 patients randomly assigned to the program, 37 are rated by staff or themselves as using alcohol, marijuana or other illicit drugs several times a week or more. Among these "significant users," alcohol ranks as the most frequently used drug, report social worker Mary Ann Test of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her colleagues in the fall SCHIZOPHRENIA BULLETIN.

Individuals in the community program average 30 years of age. Most live independently in apartments and meet with counselors once or twice a week. They also participate in daily group activities.

"Significant users" have ingested drugs on a regular or heavy basis since around age 18. Most currently use at least two substances (which may include alcohol), and a large majority are heavy consumers of caffeine and cigarettes as well. A surprisingly high number of the significant users -- 13 -- are women, the researchers note.

The most commonly cited reasons for substance use are to reduce anxiety, have something to do with friends, relieve boredom and make it easier to sleep.

Significant users are still able, with the help of the community support program, to live in the community and participate in group and work activities. But drug use may be even greater and more disruptive among young schizophrenics who receive little guidance or social support, Test and her colleagues suggest.
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Title Annotation:substance abuse
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 7, 1989
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