Substance abuse and schizophrenia: effect on symptoms but not on neurocognitive function.
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The authors compare symptoms and neuropsychological test performance in DSM-III schizophrenic patients who reported prior substance abuse (N = 38) with those in patients who reported no such abuse (N = 25) to determine the impact of substance abuse on the psychopathology of schizophrenia. Positive and negative symptom scores were derived from the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia. Sixty neuropsychological measures drawn from commonly used tests of intelligence, memory, learning, fluency, and problem solving were calculated. Separate analyses were performed on patients in a psychotic episode who were free of neuroleptics (N = 27) and on those taking maintenance neuroleptics (N = 36). Among unmedicated patients, those who reported prior substance abuse had significantly higher thought disorder scores. Among neuroleptic-medicated patients, hallucination and delusion scores were significantly higher in the patients who reported prior substance abuse. The substance abuse followed withdrawal from social relations and preceded the onset of positive symptoms. None of the neuropsychological tests discriminated between abusers and nonabusers.
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