Substance use among psychiatric patients hospitalized in a psychiatric unit in Southern Italy: an observational study

Francesca Giannini, Giuliano Anastasi, Giovanni Pietro Barillà, Giuseppe Merante, Miriam Sirianni, Gabriele Rossi Michele

Psychiatric Unit, Lamezia Terme Hospital, Department of Mental Health and Pathological Addiction Services, ASP (Provincial Health Authority) Catanzaro, Italy

DOI 10.36148/2284-0249-460


The primary aim of the study was to observe the prevalence of drug use in psychiatric patients admitted to a psychiatric unit. The secondary aim was to observe any correlation between substance use and the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of the sample group.


Retrospective descriptive study with proactive sampling. Based on the election criteria, the survey was conducted on subjects admitted to a Psychiatric unit of a hospital in Southern Italy between January 2021 and December 2021. The data was obtained through toxicological examination of urine, collected in January 2022 and subsequently analysed using SPSS software.


The sample consists of 68 persons. Most of the participants tested positive for at least one substance. The substances most used were benzodiazepines, followed by cannabis and, to a lesser extent, cocaine and methadone. A fair percentage proved simultaneously positive for two substances. Individuals with bipolar and psychotic disorders appeared to be the major users.


Substance use among psychiatric patients is a phenomenon also present in Southern Italy. Substance use can have a negative impact on the well-being of patients with psychopathologies, on their clinical course and on the functionality of health care organizations. This phenomenon is particularly challenging for the National Health System and the Mental Health Network in Italy. Enhancing integration between psychiatric services and addiction services, introducing innovative dedicated operating units and offering specific training courses addressed to health professionals could be useful strategies for improving the well-being of these patients and their clinical-care management.

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