Remission and Relapse of Substance Use Disorders in Schizophrenia Results From a One-Year Prospective Study

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Recent studies of the effectiveness of specialized programs that treat substance use disorders in schizophrenia have obtained promising results but have not involved control groups. Interpretation of these apparently positive results is problematic because remission and relapse rates of substance use disorders have not been reported in this population. The present study reports 1-year rates of substance abuse and dependence remission and relapse in a sample of schizophrenics taken from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study. Results indicated that the prevalence of substance use disorders in schizophrenia remained constant over the year primarily because rates of remission were balanced by rates of relapse. Individuals who developed abuse or dependence over the year were younger, male, and showed increases in depression and risk for hospitalization over the year. Individuals who remitted abuse or dependence were older, female, and showed decreases in depression over the year. Dual diagnosis treatment programs have recently reported higher rates of remission than were evidenced in this sample, thus providing preliminary support for the effectiveness of these treatments.

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