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Methamphetamine-associated psychosis: links to drug use characteristics and similarity to primary psychosis.

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Objectives: Despite the prevalence of methamphetamine-associated psychosis, how characteristics of drug use affect the severity and clinical course, and its optimal treatments have not been established. We addressed these questions, assessing clinical features of methamphetamine-associated psychosis, and compared it with primary psychosis.Methods: Hospitalised patients with methamphetamine-associated (n = 70) or primary schizophrenic psychosis (n = 70) were matched on sex, age and duration of psychosis. Association of drug use variables (age at initiation, duration of methamphetamine use) with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) scores and psychosis duration were examined for patients with methamphetamine-associated psychosis, and the groups were compared on the BPRS scores.Results: Methamphetamine use initiation age correlated negatively with the BPRS total score and the Activation subscale score; methamphetamine use duration correlated positively with psychosis duration. Methamphetamine-associated psychosis group scored lower on the Hostility-Suspiciousness and Anergia subscales of the BPRS (adjusted p values < .05).Conclusions: Association of early initiation of methamphetamine with psychosis severity may suggest a lasting effect on brain development. Correlation of drug use and psychosis durations may suggest a cumulative effect of methamphetamine exposure. Less severe paranoia and negative symptoms in the methamphetamine-using group could implicate better social functioning of these patients. Further mechanistic studies are warranted.Key pointsEarly initiation of methamphetamine use is associated with psychosis severity.Methamphetamine use duration associates with psychosis duration.Methamphetamine-associated and primary schizophrenic psychoses were similar in symptoms.Methamphetamine psychosis patients were less severe in paranoia and negative symptoms.

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