According to the self-medication hypothesis, persons with psychiatric symptoms use licit and illicit substances as a means to reduce the severity of their symptoms.
Participants were assessed for their use of 6 different classes of substances within 3 months of admission. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses found that particular substances were associated with each of the diagnostic categories and that the pattern of associated substances differed by diagnostic category in a way that supported both self-medication and symptom exacerbation hypotheses. Self-medication and symptom exacerbation can be defined and treated in cognitive-behavioral terms. Harm reduction strategies seem to offer great promise in this context.