Effect of continued cannabis use on medication adherence in the first two years following onset of psychosis

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Uncertainty exists whether the use of non-prescription psychoactive substances following onset of a first episode of psychosis (FEP), in particular cannabis use, affects medication adherence. Data from FEP patients (N=233) obtained through prospective assessments measured medication adherence and pattern of cannabis and other substance use in the first two years following onset of psychosis. Multiple logistic regression analyses were employed to compare the different substance use groups with regard to risk of medication non-adherence, while controlling for confounders. The proportion of non-adherent patients was higher in those who continued using high-potency forms of cannabis (skunk-like) following the onset (83%) when compared to never regular users (51%), corresponding to an Odds Ratio (OR) of 5.26[95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.91–15.68]. No significant increases in risk were present in those who used cannabis more sporadically or used milder forms of cannabis (hash-like). Other substances did not make an independent contribution in this model, including cigarette use ([OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.41–1.89]), alcohol use ([OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.27–1.64]) or regular use of other illicit drugs ([OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.34–3.15]) following the onset. These results suggest that continued use of high-potency cannabis following the onset of psychosis may adversely affect medication adherence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36–41
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date10 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Cannabis
  • THC
  • first episode psychosis
  • epidemiology


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