Background Specialised services should be developed to help people with schizophrenia and associated substance misuse. The extent of the problem therefore needs to be known.
Aims To determine the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco by people with schizophrenia drawn from rural, suburban and urban settings, and to compare use by general population control subjects.
Method People with schizophrenia (n=316) and general population controls of similar gender distribution, age and postcode area of residence (n=250) were identified in rural, urban and suburban areas of Scotland. Use of drugs and alcohol was assessed by the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry, and use of tobacco by a questionnaire.
Results More patients than controls reported problem use of drugs in the past year (22 (7%) v. 5 (2%)) and at sometime before then (50 (20%) v. 15 (6%)) and problem use of alcohol in the past year (42 (17%) v. 25 (10%)) but not at some time previously (99 (40%) v. 84 (34%)). More patients were current smokers (162 (65%) v. 99 (40%)).
Conclusions Problem use of drugs and alcohol by people with schizophrenia is greater than in the general population, but absolute numbers are small. Tobacco use is the greatest problem.
Declaration of interest None. The study was funded by the Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh.