Is substance abuse common in people with schizophrenia?

Yes, nearly half of the people suffering from schizophrenia also present with a lifetime history of substance use disorders. The most common substance of abuse is nicotine, followed by alcohol, and then cannabis. Reasons for these higher rates of co-morbidity are likely due to drug specific factors and underlying neurobiology that make those with schizophrenia more susceptible to abuse. It is important to treat substance abuse at the same time as schizophrenia, as those abusing substance have worse clinical outcomes and are more likely to experience a psychotic relapse.


Volkow ND. (2009) Substance Use Disorders in Schizophrenia—Clinical Implications of Comorbidity, Schizophrenia Bulletin, 35(3), Retrieved from

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