This qualitative study identifies factors influencing the use of substances in young people with recent onset psychosis. A purposive sample of 19 people aged between 16 and 35 years from an Early Intervention Service in the English National Health Service (NHS) was interviewed using a semi-structured guide. All had experienced a psychotic episode and were within 3 years of first contact with the service. All were either currently misusing substances or had been doing so in the 6 months prior to first contact with the service. All participants were/had been regular cannabis users and for 13(68%) cannabis was the primary drug of use. Thematic analysis identified four key themes in participants accounts of factors influencing their substance abuse: influence of perceived drug norms on behaviour; attributions for initial and ongoing drug-taking behaviour; changes in life goals affecting drug use; beliefs about the links between mental health and drug use. These findings have clear implications for interventions at a number of levels to support young people using substances in early psychosis including public health messages, education and psychological therapies.
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