Drugs of abuse and increased risk of psychosis development Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: There is considerable evidence to suggest that the abuse of illicit drugs, particularly cannabis and methamphetamine, has aetiological roles in the pathogenesis of psychosis and schizophrenia. Factors that may increase susceptibility to the propsychotic effects of these drugs include the age at which the abuse starts as well as family history of genetic polymorphisms relevant to the pathophysiology of this disorder. However, the neurobiological mechanisms involved in drug abuse-associated psychosis remain largely unclear. METHODS AND RESULTS: This paper presents an overview of the available evidence, including clinical, animal model, and molecular studies, with a focus on brain regions and neurotransmitters systems, such as dopamine and glutamate, previously implicated in psychosis. CONCLUSION: It is clear that further studies are urgently needed to provide a greater insight into the mechanisms that mediate the long-term and neurodevelopmental effects of cannabis and methamphetamine. A dialogue between basic science and clinical research may help to identify at-risk individuals and novel pathways for treatment and prevention.

publication date

  • December 2012