Long-Term Methamphetamine Users face Risk of Having Schizophrenia
A large study was conducted to confirm whether methamphetamines; an illicit psychostimulant known in street names like crystal meth, “speed, ice”, “shabu” and “glass” can cause either true schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like illnesses. The association of methamphetamines to these psychoses are hotly debated and questioned, partly because there is no long-term follow up studies about drug users having schizophrenia. Furthermore, some psychiatrists believe that psychosis is already present in users before they got addicted to methamphetamines which make it difficult to ascertain the origin of schizophrenia.
In the study, scientists analyzed the records of patients from 1990 to 2000 in a hospital in California. They picked those who are diagnosed with addiction to drugs like methamphetamine, cannabis, alcohol, cocaine and opioids. The control group consisted of those with records of appendicitis with negative drug use. They excluded those who were on addicted to multiple drugs, and those who are diagnosed with schizophrenia or drug-induced psychosis during their hospitalization.
The records were studied again after ten years after initial admission, identifying patients who had diagnosis of schizophrenia. The results showed that those who are dependent on methamphetamines increased their risk of having schizophrenia by 1.5 to 3-fold, compared to those who are addicted to cocaine, alcohol and opioids.
The results were similar to studies which associate heavy cannabis use to schizophrenia. The study gave no explanation on how methamphetamines cause the psychotic condition. But it is important considering the widespread and heavy users of street methamphetamines. According to world statistics, the social problem of methamphetamine is becoming widespread in countries like Iran, North Korea and the United States.
The results of the study are available on the November issue of American Journal of Psychiatry, the official publication of the American Psychiatric Association.
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