Effects of cocaine on hospital course in schizophrenia
The authors selected at random every fourth inpatient chart (N = 79) of patients enrolled in a schizophrenia clinic for analysis of substance use patterns and psychiatric hospitalizations. Patients were divided into three groups based on operationally defined lifetime drug use histories: a) cocaine and other substance use; b) substance use without cocaine; and c) no substance use. All available hospital records were examined for presenting symptoms and psychosocial functioning at admission, neuroleptic dosing, and hospital management. Cocaine-using schizophrenics had significantly higher hospitalization rates than other substance-using or non-using patients. No differences were found in hospital presenting symptoms among any cohort. However, the cocaine-using schizophrenic patients demonstrated significantly higher rates of suicidal ideation after cocaine use compared with their own non-cocaine-associated hospitalizations or the other groups. The cocaine group also received higher neuroleptic doses by the fifth and sixth weeks of hospitalization compared with their own non-cocaine-associated hospitalizations and with the other groups. This suggests that cocaine use in schizophrenia is associated with poorer illness course and increased hospitalization, including higher rates of suicidal ideation and greater neuroleptic dose.