Severely mentally ill abuse alcohol, tobacco, drugs more than general population

Washington, Jan. 2: Researchers have found that rates of smoking, drinking and drug use are significantly higher among those who suffer from psychotic disorders compared to those in the general population.

First author Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University, said that these patients tend to pass away much younger, with estimates ranging from 12 to 25 years earlier than individuals in the general population, asserting that they don’t die from drug overdoses or commit suicide – the kinds of things as might be suspected in severe psychiatric illness but from heart disease and cancer, problems caused by chronic alcohol and tobacco use.

The study analyzed smoking, drinking and drug use in nearly 20,000 people. That included 9,142 psychiatric patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder.

The investigators also assessed nicotine use, heavy drinking, heavy marijuana use and recreational drug use in more than 10,000 healthy people without mental illness.

They found that 30 percent of those with severe psychiatric illness engaged in binge drinking, defined as drinking four servings of alcohol at one time. In comparison, the rate of binge drinking in the general population is 8 percent.

Among those with mental illness, more than 75 percent were regular smokers compared to 33 percent from the control group who smoked regularly.

50 percent of people with psychotic disorders used marijuana regularly, versus 18 percent in the general population. Half of those with mental illness also used other illicit drugs, while the rate of recreational drug use in the general population is 12 percent.

The study has been published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. (ANI)