Self-mutilation induced by psychotropic substances: a systematic review

Psychiatry Res. 2012 Dec 30;200(2-3):977-83. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.06.028. Epub 2012 Jul 28.


Self-mutilation (SM) not only occurs among patients with schizophrenia, personality disorders or transsexuality but also as a phenomenon induced by psychotropic substances (PS). We intended to find characteristics of patients at risk to perform SM induced by PS (SMIPS), frequent PS within this phenomenon and typical presentations of SMIPS. A systematic review of the literature (including Medline, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Scopus) was conducted. On October 2011 we identified 26 cases (23 publications) of SM related to PS. Majority of patients (85%) was male, mean age was 30 years (median 41 years). Seventy-three percent of patients developed SM subsequent to the use of one PS, 27% presented SM after the use of more than one PS. Alcohol (25%), hallucinogens (25%) and amphetamines (22%) were found most frequently among the reported substances. Major impairment was present in 80%. Our findings suggest male sex, young age, a previous history of abuse of PS and the current use of alcohol, hallucinogens or amphetamines to favour SMIPS.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amphetamines / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Mutilation / chemically induced*
  • Sex Factors


  • Amphetamines
  • Hallucinogens
  • Ethanol