Methamphetamine use and schizophrenia: A population-based cohort study in California

Russell C. Callaghan, James K Cunningham, Peter Allebeck, Tamara Arenovich, Gautam Sajeev, Gary Remington, Isabelle Boileau, Stephen J. Kish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Objective: Clinical investigators in Japan have long suggested that exposure to methamphetamine might cause a persistent schizophrenia-like psychosis. This possibility is discounted in the Western literature. To investigate the relationship between drug use and later schizophrenia, the authors conducted a large-scale cohort study of drug users initially free of persistent psychosis. Method: A population-based cohort study was conducted using data from California inpatient hospital discharge records from 1990 through 2000. Patients with methamphetamine-related conditions (N=42,412) and those with other drug use disorders (cannabis, cocaine, alcohol, and opioids) were propensity score-matched to individuals with primary appendicitis who served as a population proxy comparison group; the methamphetamine cohort was also matched to the other drug cohorts. Cox modeling was used to estimate differences between matched groups in the rates of subsequent admission with schizophrenia diagnoses. Results: The methamphetamine cohort had a significantly higher risk of schizophrenia than the appendicitis group (hazard ratio=9.37) and the cocaine, opioid, and alcohol groups (hazard ratios ranging from 1.46 to 2.81), but not significantly different from that of the cannabis group. The risk of schizophrenia was higher in all drug cohorts than in the appendicitis group. Conclusions: Study limitations include difficulty in confirming schizophrenia diagnoses independent of drug intoxication and the possibility of undetected schizophrenia predating drug exposure. The study 's findings suggest that individuals with methamphetamine-related disorders have a higher risk of schizophrenia than those with other drug use disorders, with the exception of cannabis use disorders. The elevated risk in methamphetamine users may be explained by shared etiological mechanisms involved in the development of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume169
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

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Methamphetamine
Schizophrenia
Cohort Studies
Population
Appendicitis
Cannabis
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Cocaine
Psychotic Disorders
Opioid Analgesics
Substance-Related Disorders
Alcohols
Cohort
Propensity Score
Drugs
Hospital Records
Proxy
Drug Users
Inpatients
Japan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Methamphetamine use and schizophrenia : A population-based cohort study in California. / Callaghan, Russell C.; Cunningham, James K; Allebeck, Peter; Arenovich, Tamara; Sajeev, Gautam; Remington, Gary; Boileau, Isabelle; Kish, Stephen J.

In: American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 169, No. 4, 01.04.2012, p. 389-396.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Callaghan, RC, Cunningham, JK, Allebeck, P, Arenovich, T, Sajeev, G, Remington, G, Boileau, I & Kish, SJ 2012, 'Methamphetamine use and schizophrenia: A population-based cohort study in California', American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 169, no. 4, pp. 389-396. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.10070937
Callaghan, Russell C. ; Cunningham, James K ; Allebeck, Peter ; Arenovich, Tamara ; Sajeev, Gautam ; Remington, Gary ; Boileau, Isabelle ; Kish, Stephen J. / Methamphetamine use and schizophrenia : A population-based cohort study in California. In: American Journal of Psychiatry. 2012 ; Vol. 169, No. 4. pp. 389-396.
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