Illicit drug use in heavy smokers with and without schizophrenia

Kristen M. Mackowick, Stephen J. Heishman, Heidi J. Wehring, Fang Liu, Robert P. McMahon, Deanna L. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The prevalence of cigarette smoking among people with schizophrenia is greater than that of the general population. Because smoking and use of other drugs covary, we examined illicit drug use in current smokers not trying to quit or reduce their tobacco use. We recruited outpatient participants who had a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (schizophrenia, n = 70) and a control group who had no Axis I psychiatric disorders (control, n = 97). During a 2-3-hour session, participants completed demographic and research questionnaires, including the Drug Use Survey (DUS). Results: Participants with schizophrenia were older than controls (p <0.001) and smoked more cigarettes per day (p = 0.01), but did not differ in degree of nicotine dependence. Ever using a drug was similar between the groups, except that significantly more participants with schizophrenia reported ever using hallucinogens (p <0.001) and inhalants (p = 0.001). For alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana, fewer participants with schizophrenia were current users, but more participants with schizophrenia were past users (ps <0.0001). Heavy smokers from the general population continued to use illicit drugs throughout their lives, while schizophrenia participants had the highest period of illicit drug use in their 20s. Conclusions: These data suggest that illicit drug use tends to be high in heavy cigarette smokers, regardless of a schizophrenia diagnosis. However, while illicit drug use is high across the lifespan of heavy smokers in the general population, heavy smokers with schizophrenia use illicit drugs mostly in the first decade of their illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-200
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Drug use
  • Marijuana
  • Schizophrenia
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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