Methamphetamine-induced psychosis: Clinical features, treatment modalities and outcomes

Eileen Thomas, Helena Lategan, Chris Verster, Martin Kidd, Lize Weich


Objective: To investigate the clinical features, prescribing patterns and outcomes of psychiatric inpatients admitted with methamphetamine-induced psychosis.
Method: A cross-sectional, descriptive pilot study was conducted between March 2014 and August 2014 at three South African Mental Health Care Act designated hospitals prior to admission to a psychiatric hospital. Patients with methamphetamine-related psychotic symptoms according to the DSM-5 criteria were eligible. Structured face-to-face interviews were conducted and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale was employed as a measure of current
Results: Fifty-six participants were included. Positive psychotic symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) were more prominent than negative symptoms (e.g. affective blunting). Almost half the participants (43%) had previous episodes of methamphetamine-induced psychosis. Within this group, all had defaulted on the prescribed treatment prior to admission. Only 29% of the participants had received prior formal substance-use rehabilitation as treatment for their disorder. High rates of comorbid cannabis and alcohol use (51%) were recorded. Most of the participants required transfer to specialist psychiatric hospitals. The amounts of methamphetamine used were not a predictor of the persistence of psychosis; however, the pattern of use was.
Conclusion: Clinical features correspond with other international findings. The currently employed model of sequential, non-integrated psychiatric and substance use treatment in this setting appears ineffective.


Methamphetamine; South Africa; Psychosis; Phenomenology

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Submitted: 26 February 2016
Published: 29 September 2016

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)