Understanding factors influencing substance use in people with recent onset psychosis: A qualitative study

Soc Sci Med. 2010 Apr;70(8):1141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.12.026. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology
  • National Health Programs
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Perception
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Young Adult