Women with severe mental illness (SMI) in South Africa face numerous psychosocial challenges and alcohol use is widely used in this population as a coping strategy. Although hazardous alcohol use has a documented negative effect on medication adherence or chronic illness, research has mostly ignored the role of alcohol on psychotropic medication adherence in women with SMI. The primary aim of this study was to explore the association of hazardous alcohol use on psychotropic medication adherence in adult women living with SMI (N = 119), attending a psychiatric clinic for treatment in Cape Town. Medication adherence was based on self-report and hazardous alcohol use was measured with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Poisson regression analyses (controlling for education, relationship status, and psychiatric hospitalisations) indicated that hazardous alcohol use was significantly associated with a greater likelihood of psychotropic medication non-adherence. Similar findings were observed for HIV medication non-adherence in the HIV-positive subsample. Study findings highlight the role of alcohol use for medication non-adherence in women with SMI and should be addressed in psychiatric care.
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