- Drug abuse is common in schizophrenia. Previous studies suggested patients with the deficit syndrome have a lower risk of drug abuse than do patients without deficit features. We distinguished deficit and nondeficit groups in the DSM-IV Field Trial dataset, and compared the two groups relative to current and lifetime (worst ever) severity of alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs of abuse. Deficit syndrome patients had a lower severity of current use of alcohol and other drugs, but the two groups did not differ significantly relative to cannabis use. Deficit patients also had less severe lifetime use of all three classes of drugs. These findings could not be attributed to differences between the deficit and nondeficit groups in demographics, severity of psychotic symptoms, chronicity of illness, or the quality of information available for the two groups. Deficit categorization and drug abuse were independently associated with poor level of function. Negative symptoms broadly defined were weaker predictors of drug abuse than was the deficit/nondeficit categorization. These findings further support the validity of the deficit syndrome of schizophrenia. Within schizophrenia, groups with relatively high or low risk for substance abuse can be identified.