Background: Despite the clinical importance of substance-induced psychosis (SIP), few studies have examined the course of this condition after its acute manifestation.
Objective: To investigate the rate of SIP conversion to a schizophrenia spectrum disorder and the length of follow-up needed to catch the majority of these patients whose diagnoses change. In addition to the conversion rate and pattern, we wanted to look for possible related factors.
Method: Using the nationwide Finnish Hospital Discharge Register, we followed all patients (N = 18,478) since their first inpatient hospital admission with a diagnosis of SIP (codes 2921 and 2928 in DSM-III-R and codes F10-F19 in ICD-10 with a third digit of 4, 5, or 7) between January 1987 and December 2003 in Finland. Patients (mean age = 43.7 years, standard deviation = 13.5 years) were followed until first occurrence of schizophrenia spectrum disorder, death, or the end of December 2003, whichever took place first. Conversions of discharge diagnoses into schizophrenia spectrum disorders (codes 2951-2959 and 2971 in DSM-III-R and codes F20, F22, and F23 in ICD-10) were recorded at follow-up.
Results: Eight-year cumulative risk to receive a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis was 46% (95% CI, 35%-57%) for persons with a diagnosis of cannabis-induced psychosis and 30% (95% CI, 14%-46%) for those with an amphetamine-induced psychosis. Although alcohol-induced psychosis was the most common type of SIP, 8-year cumulative risk for subsequent schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis was only 5.0% (95% CI, 4.6%-5.5%). No differences were detected with regard to gender, except for amphetamine-induced psychosis, which converted into a schizophrenia spectrum disorder significantly more often in men (P = .04). The majority of conversions to a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis occurred during the first 3 years following the index treatment period, especially for cannabis-induced psychosis.
Conclusion: Substance-induced psychotic disorders predict schizophrenia spectrum disorders to a greater extent than previously thought. The intensity of clinical attention focused on substance-induced psychotic disorders should be increased.
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