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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2004 Dec 7;76(3):311-6.

Preliminary evidence of an association between childhood abuse and cannabis dependence among African American first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum disorder patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Grady Memorial Hospital, Box 26238, 80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, S.E., Atlanta, GA 30303, USA. mcompto@emory.edu


Cannabis dependence is a prevalent comorbid substance use disorder among patients early in the course of a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder. Determining risk factors for substance abuse may be helpful in designing interventions to reduce the psychosocial morbidity associated with substance abuse among this population. This study aimed to determine whether or not African American, socially disadvantaged, first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum patients with cannabis dependence experienced greater levels of childhood abuse and neglect compared to similar patients without comorbid cannabis dependence. Among 29 eligible patients, 18 participated in this pilot study. First-episode patients with comorbid cannabis dependence (n = 8) reported significantly greater childhood physical and sexual abuse compared to those without comorbid cannabis dependence (n = 10). This represents preliminary evidence of an association between childhood maltreatment and cannabis dependence among this especially vulnerable population. Childhood physical and sexual abuse may be a risk factor for the initiation of cannabis dependence and other substance use disorders in the early course of schizophrenia.

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