To quantify the number of medications used for treating psychiatric and addictive disorders in a cohort of dual diagnosis with substance dependence outpatients and report the most frequent pharmacological groups used.
A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted. Demographic data, Axis I comorbidity diagnosis with substance dependence, and the medications prescribed were recorded. Diagnosis was assessed by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID).
One hundred seven patients (mean age 37.7 years; SD = 10.2 years) were evaluated (76.6% men). On average, patients took 4.0 (SD = 1.8) medications. The pharmacological groups prescribed were antipsychotics (69.2%) followed by antidepressants (65.4%), antiepileptics (58.9%), anxiolytics (37.4%), alcohol-aversive drugs (15.9%), methadone (15.9%), lithium (3.7%), and naltrexone (2.8%). Older patients (>45 years old) were found to have a higher number of prescribed medications. Patients diagnosed with a dual psychotic disorder were prescribed a larger number of pharmacological agents (mean = 4.4; SD = 2.1) than patients with a mood disorder (mean = 3.7; SD = 1.3) or an anxiety disorder (mean = 2.9; SD = 1.2), K = 10.5, P = 0.005.
Because polypharmacy is frequent in patients with mental illness and a co-occurring substance use disorder, specialized approaches need to be developed.