Recreational Drug Use and Distress From Hallucinations in the General Dutch Population

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS: Distress associated with auditory (AH) and visual (VH) hallucinations in the general population was found to be predictive of later need for mental healthcare. It is, therefore, important to understand factors relating to the distress individuals experience from their hallucinations. Hallucinations can easily occur under substance-induced states, but recreational drug use is also known as a self-medication strategy. The current study, therefore, investigated whether recreational drug use by individuals from the general population is associated with the degree of distress experienced from AH and/or VH. STUDY DESIGN: Drug use and distress severity associated with AH (N = 3.041) and/or VH (N = 2.218) were assessed by means of an online survey in the general Dutch population (>14 years of age). STUDY RESULTS: Multiple linear regression revealed that while past month consumption of alcohol was associated with less AH- and VH-related distress, past month cannabis use was associated with more AH- and VH-related distress. Furthermore, past month use of nitrous oxide was associated with more severe VH-related distress. CONCLUSION: Recreational use of alcohol, cannabis, and nitrous oxide may play important differential roles in the degree of distress associated with AH and VH in individuals from the general population. The consumption of these substances could form a potential risk factor for the development of distressing hallucinations or function as a signal marker for their occurrence. Due to the cross-sectional design of the current study, the causal relation between recreational drug use and distressing hallucinations remains to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S41-S47
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
Early online date24-Feb-2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2023


  • alcohol
  • cannabis
  • hallucinatory distress
  • nitrous oxide
  • recreational drug use
  • schizophrenia

Cite this