Research Suggests Link Between Psychosis and Violence Result of Drugs and Alcohol

Research Suggests Link Between Psychosis and Violence Result of Drugs and Alcohol

While schizophrenia has been often associated with violence, recent research suggests this association is greatly increased by the use of drugs and alcohol. A recent release in Science Daily explores this study, which found the risk of violence from patients with psychoses who also have substance use disorder is no greater than those who have substance use disorder and no psychotic illness.

In other words, this study finds that schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses do not appear to be responsible for any additional risk of violence above and beyond the increased risk associated with substance abuse. These findings could suggest that strategies aimed at reducing drug and alcohol abuse could be more successful than a focus on mental illness.

Seena Fazel with the University of Oxford, and colleagues completed a systematic review of all previous studies examining the association between psychotic illness and the risk of violence. In this process, researchers identified 20 studies comparing the risk of violence among those suffering a psychotic illness and those in the general population.

In this process, researchers determined the risk of violent outcomes does increase for individuals with schizophrenia or other psychoses. In fact, men with schizophrenia or other psychoses were typically four to five times as likely to commit a violent act as a man in the general population.

Women with schizophrenia or other psychoses were eight times greater at risk of violence than women in the general population. Researchers highlighted this increased risk might be explained by lower prevalence of alcohol and drug use in the general female population.

This review also found that substance abuse greatly increased the risk of violence for those with psychotic illness. At the same time, there was also an increased risk of violence in the general population with substance abuse but no psychotic illness. These findings suggest that most of the excess risk of violence in those patients suffering psychosis is the result of abusing alcohol and drugs.

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