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Keywords:

  • antipsychotic side-effects;
  • self-medication;
  • cannabis;
  • psychosis

Objective:  To examine the reasons for cannabis use among individuals with psychotic disorders.

Method:  Forty-nine people with psychotic disorders in treatment with community health centres in Northern Sydney were interviewed to collect information about their experience of antipsychotic side-effects and their influence on cannabis use. Other information collected on cannabis use included: amount and frequency, effects of use and other general reasons given for use.

Results:  It was found that boredom, social motives, improving sleep, anxiety and agitation and symptoms associated with negative psychotic symptoms or depression were the most important motivators of cannabis use. Positive symptoms of psychosis and antipsychotic side-effects that were not associated with anxiety, were not important motivators of cannabis use.

Conclusions:  As cannabis use may precipitate relapse in this population, it is important to reduce these motivators of use. Clinician’s must assess and treat these problems, thus reducing the need for patients to self-medicate with cannabis, and therefore reducing the risk of relapse.