Amphetamine psychosis: a model for studying the onset and course of psychosis

Med J Aust. 2009 Feb 16;190(S4):S22-5. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02370.x.


The aetiology of schizophrenia remains complex, although proposed models have identified genetic markers and environmental pathogens as important risk factors. Researchers have found no large-effect or unique genetic elements, and only a small number of putative environmental agents have been identified. Use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATSs) is an exemplar environmental pathogen, as it is known to trigger schizophrenia-like illness and other psychotic and manic episodes. To date, the ATS model of illness onset has been under-utilised. It has the potential to reveal key neurobiological elements of schizophrenia and related psychoses. The model proposed here has the capacity to inform detection of those at risk of ATS-related psychoses, and therefore help develop early intervention strategies. It is possible that the same approach may be used in young people known to be at risk of schizophrenia and related disorders, by informing models that involve other environmental or genetic risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / adverse effects*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychoses, Substance-Induced / diagnosis
  • Psychoses, Substance-Induced / etiology*
  • Psychoses, Substance-Induced / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / etiology*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism


  • Amphetamines
  • Biomarkers
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants