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Monitoring the prevalence of methamphetamine-related presentations at psychiatric hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa

A Plüddemann
S Dada
CDH Parry
R Kader
JS Parker
H Temmingh
S van Heerden
C de Clercq
I Lewis


Objective: This study aimed to determine a demographic profile of methamphetamine (MA)-related admissions to major psychiatric services in Cape Town, obtain a substance use profile from admitted patients, a profile of common MA-related symptoms encountered during the assessment of the patients presenting with MA-related problems, and a brief profile of the psychiatric diagnoses made.

Method: Staff in six psychiatric hospitals or wards in Cape Town collected data on methamphetamine related admissions between July and December 2008 using a one-page record review form. The data collection form consisted of the patient’s demographic details, presenting symptoms, previous admission details, current MA and other substance use information, and DSM-IV diagnosis.

Results: A total of 235 forms were completed. Most patients were male (69%) and the mean age was 25 years. The most common presenting symptoms were aggressive behaviour (74%), followed by delusions (59%) and hallucinations (57%). Males were two times more likely to present with aggression as compared to females, while females were significantly more likely to present with depressed mood or euphoric/elevated mood. The majority of patients had substanceinduced psychotic disorder (41%), followed by schizophrenia (31%). Twelve percent (12%) had bipolar mood disorder.
Conclusion: MA-related psychiatric admissions pose serious challenges to all health services dealing with these patients. Further training and treatment protocol development and distribution is indicated.

Keywords: Methamphetamine; Admissions; Psychosis; South Africa

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eISSN: 1994-8220