Stimulant use disorders in people with psychosis: a meta-analysis of rate and factors affecting variation

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;49(2):106-17. doi: 10.1177/0004867414561526. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Objective: Stimulant abuse and dependence often complicate the care of people with psychotic disorders. This study systematically reviews the prevalence estimates reported for stimulant abuse and dependence in people with psychotic disorders, and examines personal, clinical, regional and methodological factors which explain variation in these rates.

Methods: PsychINFO, EMBASE and MEDLINE (1946-2013) were searched systematically for studies reporting on stimulant drug use disorders in representative samples of people with psychotic disorders. Random effects models estimated the pooled rate of a stimulant use disorder, defined to include stimulant abuse and stimulant dependence. Study characteristics associated with heterogeneity in rates of stimulant use disorder were examined by subgroup analyses for categorical variables, by meta-regression for continuous independent variables and by multiple meta-regression.

Results: Sixty-four studies provided 68 estimates of lifetime or recent stimulant use disorders in 22,500 people with psychosis. The pooled rate of stimulant use disorder was 8.9% (95% CI 7.4%, 10.5%). Higher rates of stimulant use disorders were reported in studies of affective psychosis, studies from inpatient settings, studies from the USA and Australia, and studies with higher rates of cannabis disorder; in multiple meta-regression analysis these factors explained 68% of between-study variance. Rates of stimulant use disorder were stable over time, and unrelated to age, sex, stage of psychosis, type of stimulant drug or study methodology factors.

Conclusions: Reported rates of stimulant use disorder in people with psychosis are much higher than in the general population but vary widely and are associated with regional, service setting and clinical differences between studies. It is likely that stimulants contribute to the overall burden of psychosis, and that social and environmental factors combine with drug and illness-related factors to influence stimulant use in psychosis.

Keywords: affective psychosis; amphetamine; cocaine; ecstasy; schizophrenia; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Stimulants*
  • Comorbidity*
  • Humans
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants