Alcohol and cannabis use in schizophrenia: Effects of clozapine vs. risperidone

Alan I. Green*, Ellen S. Burgess, Ree Dawson, Suzannah V. Zimmet, Rael D. Strous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol and cannabis use disorders worsen the course of schizophrenia. While the typical antipsychotics are of limited value in controlling substance use in schizophrenic patients, previous studies suggest that the novel antipsychotic clozapine (CLOZ) may decrease their substance use. We describe a retrospective study of the effects of the novel antipsychotics risperidone (RISP) and clozapine on alcohol and cannabis use in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and comorbid alcohol and/or cannabis use disorder. Method: This study involved retrospective assessment of abstinence (cessation of alcohol and cannabis use) in 41 patients treated with either risperidone (n=8) or clozapine (n=33) for at least 1 year. In 32 of these 41 patients, information was available on whether abstinence occurred during the 1-year period. Results: Abstinence rates were significantly higher in patients treated with clozapine than in those treated with risperidone (54% vs. 13%, p=0.05). The nine patients treated for at least 1 year, but excluded from the analysis because time of cessation of use was not known, had all stopped alcohol/cannabis use during clozapine treatment. Discussion: While the limitations of this retrospective study must be recognized, the data suggest that comorbid patients treated with clozapine are more likely to abstain from alcohol and cannabis use than are those treated with risperidone. Further prospective studies will be required to confirm these intriguing results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Commonwealth Research Center
National Institute of Mental HealthMH 52376, MH 49891
National Institute on Drug AbuseDA 13196
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismR01AA011904
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation


    • Alcohol
    • Cannabis
    • Clozapine
    • Risperidone
    • Schizoaffective disorder
    • Schizophrenia


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