Objective: To compare the symptoms and function of patients with psychosis who have ceased using substances to those who have psychosis but do not have a history of substance use. Method: The databases EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO were searched for peer-reviewed publications in English reporting the characteristics of patients with psychotic illness who had stopped using substances and those who had never used substances. The searches yielded 20 articles that met the inclusion criteria. Four key outcome variables - positive symptoms, negative symptoms, depression and global function - and four other outcome measures reported in five or more studies were examined using meta-analysis. Results: Former substance-using patients were significantly younger than non-substance-using patients and were more likely to be male, but did not differ in age at onset of psychosis or in their level of education. There were no significant differences between former substance users and non-substance users in ratings of positive symptoms, negative symptoms, depression or global function. Among first-episode patients there was a trend towards former substance users having less severe depressive symptoms than non-substance users. In contrast, among non-first-episode patients, former substance users had significantly more depressive symptoms than non-substance users. In studies rated as being of higher quality, former substance users had significantly less severe positive symptoms than non-substance users. Conclusion: The absence of significant differences between the two groups suggests that a history of substance use is not a poor prognostic indicator for patients who are able to stop using substances.
- First-episode psychosis
- Substance use