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Prevention of violent behaviors (VB) in the early phase of psychosis (EPP) is a real challenge. Impulsivity was shown to be strongly related to VB, and different evolutions of impulsivity were noticed along treatments. One possible variable involved in the relationship between VB and the evolution of impulsivity is cannabis use (CU). The high prevalence of CU in EPP and its relationship with VB led us to investigate: 1/the impact of CU and 2/the impact of early CU on the evolution of impulsivity levels during a 3-year program, in violent and non-violent EPP patients.
178 non-violent and 62 violent patients (VPs) were followed-up over a 3 year period. Age of onset of CU was assessed at program entry and impulsivity was assessed seven times during the program. The evolution of impulsivity level during the program, as a function of the violent and non-violent groups of patients and CU precocity were analyzed with linear mixed-effects models.
Over the treatment period, impulsivity level did not evolve as a function of the interaction between group and CU (coef. = 0.02, p = 0.425). However, when including precocity of CU, impulsivity was shown to increase significantly only in VPs who start consuming before 15 years of age (coef. = 0.06, p = 0.008).
The precocity of CU in VPs seems to be a key variable of the negative evolution of impulsivity during follow-up and should be closely monitored in EPP patients entering care since they have a higher risk of showing VB.
Although evidence from psychosis patients demonstrates the adverse effects of cannabis use (CU) at a young age and that the rate of CU is high in subgroups of young violent patients with psychotic disorders, little is known about the possible effect of the age of onset of CU on later violent behaviors (VB). So, we aimed to explore the impact of age at onset of CU on the risk of displaying VB in a cohort of early psychosis patients.
Data were collected prospectively over a 36-month period in the context of an early psychosis cohort study. A total of 265 patients, aged 18–35 years, were included in the study. Logistic regression was performed to assess the link between age of onset of substance use and VB.
Among the 265 patients, 72 had displayed VB and 193 had not. While violent patients began using cannabis on average at age 15.29 (0.45), nonviolent patients had started on average at age 16.97 (0.35) (p = 0.004). Early-onset CU (up to age 15) was a risk factor for VB (odds ratio = 4.47, confidence interval [CI]: 1.13–20.06) when the model was adjusted for age group, other types of substance use, being a user or a nonuser and various violence risk factors and covariates. History of violence and early CU (until 15) were the two main risk factors for VB.
Our results suggest that early-onset CU may play a role in the emergence of VB in early psychosis.
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