Main Article Content

Substance abuse and psychiatric co-morbidities: a case study of patients at Mathari Psychiatric Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya

DM Ndetei
M Pizzo
MW Kuria
L Khasakhala
MH Maru
V Mutiso


Substance abuse co-morbidity with psychiatric disorders is common and has been widely reported, except in Kenya. This study aimed to determine the prevalence, pattern and socio-economic burden of a dual diagnosis of substance abuse disorder and other psychiatric conditions. This was a cross-sectional descriptive study of 691 patients admitted at Mathari hospital. Only 42 patients had a first working diagnosis of substance abuse but nearly thirty-five percent of the patients
scored for a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) diagnosis of alcohol dependance/abuse. There was high co-morbidity of alcohol abuse/dependence with opiate, sedative and 'khat' use, as well as with mood and other psychotic disorders. Substance abuse disorders correlated significantly with other psychiatric disorders. Only 12 patients were in a drug rehabilitation unit, all of whom had a dual psychiatric diagnosis of affective disorder.
There were high co-morbidity rates of substance abuse in both general psychiatric wards and drug rehabilitation units.

KEY WORDS: substance abuse, co-morbidity, psychiatric disorders, Kenya