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Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 11/09/2021
Understanding The Relationship Between Schizophrenia and Addiction
Schizophrenia and addiction are both mental health conditions that are heavily stigmatized and misunderstood. Over a million and a half cases of Schizophrenia exist yearly across the world. Additionally, millions of people are fighting addiction each day.
Schizophrenia has some things in common with addiction. Like people that deep in their addiction, there is a lot of denial from the people suffering from it. There is research out there that links substance abuse and Schizophrenia. People with Schizophrenia are very prone to developing an addiction to self-medicate this complex condition.
If you think you may have Schizophrenia or you’re experiencing symptoms of Schizophrenia that you aren’t sure are stemming from drug use, give us a call to discuss treatment options.
Call for a free and confidential consultation at (888) 906-0952.
- The History of Schizophrenia
- Like Addiction, Schizophrenia Doesn’t Discriminate
- Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
- The Link Between Schizophrenia and Addiction
- Am I Schizophrenic or Is it Drug Use?
- Schizophrenia and Addiction as Co-occurring Disorders
- How to Find Help for Schizophrenia and Addiction
The History of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia was discovered in 1887 by Dr. Emile Kraepelin. But obviously, scientists believe the disease has been around much for much longer than that. About one percent of the population in the world will develop the disease.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which people can interpret reality a bit differently. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning and can be disabling. People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment.
People that have schizophrenia may show signs of psychosis and paranoia. They see and hear things that do not exist. Some of the behaviors include being upset out of nowhere, inconsistent changes in behavior, confusion, anxiety, confusion, and anger.
The Genetic Roots of Schizophrenia
Just like individuals who suffer from addiction, denial is a common personality trait for people that have schizophrenia. People will often turn to drugs and alcohol to help deal with the symptoms of schizophrenia.
While there is no real evidence to prove how you can get the disease, there are factors to lead to developing it. There are genetics, the environment you grew up in, and how your brain works are indicators of getting the disorder.
The condition also can run in the family. It is very likely in twins. People with mental illness are very prone to developing a substance addiction. With this disease comes many intangibles that they suffer can not control. The symptoms can be just as deadly as those who suffer from addiction.
Like Addiction, Schizophrenia Doesn’t Discriminate
Mental illness does not discriminate against anyone. Schizophrenia can happen to anyone, no matter what their circumstances are. However, it is slightly more common in males than females, and onset is most prevalent in adolescent years or early adulthood.
It also does run in families. Schizophrenia impacts the way of person thinks and behaves. It can begin for a person in their early teens and progress as the person gets older. The intensity and how long the symptoms stick can differ from person to person.
Though if a person drinks or takes drugs or deals with a lot of stress, it can heighten the effects of the illness.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Hallucinations – A person can see and hear things that are not present. It also affects all five senses. Hearing voices is the most common occurrence.
Displaced Thinking – A person is all over the place, general decline in work or school performance can get confused at any given time, dismal attention span, and approach to logic. The thoughts that are put together do not quite make sense.
Inconsistent Patterns of Motor Behavior – A person can behave like a child, resistance to authority and structure, and unpredictability of agitation.
Paranoid Delusions – They may think there is someone else in the room or feel the world is going to end tomorrow at 12:01 am as an example.
Violence – While there is the assumption that people that have this mental condition are violent or have a split personality, that is not necessarily true. A person only becomes that way if they drink or do drugs.
Behavior Changes – This can be apparent by a person’s energy levels, and no interest in daily activities. A person can become a mute and a recluse.
People with schizophrenia are up to four times more likely to be diagnosed with substance addiction compared to the general population. Drugs do not directly cause schizophrenia, but studies have shown drug misuse increases the risk of developing schizophrenia or a similar illness.
Link Between Schizophrenia and Addiction
Substance abuse study statistics vary widely, with claims ranging from 10% to 70% of people with schizophrenia having a problem. Researchers have found that over half of all people with schizophrenia abused at least one substance before the onset of the mental illness.
People with schizophrenia also are 4.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder than the general population.
When you mix drugs and alcohol with a mental condition, it can have disastrous consequences. In dealing with the symptoms of this particular medical disorder, a person can turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
Studies show that half of the people that have schizophrenia have been addicted to a substance before the disease started taking over. People with schizophrenia can turn to substances like heroin, cocaine, and opioids.
People dealing with heroin hallucinations can morph a person into someone prone to violence and unpredictability. Marijuana, nicotine, and alcohol pose as one of the biggest threats of a person getting addicted to those substances. Here are how these three substances relate to schizophrenia.
Marijuana/ Cannabis Use and Schizophrenia
For 53% of people that suffered their first occurrence with psychosis, it was discovered the people used marijuana at some point before. Is the question now does marijuana cause schizophrenia? The answer is no, as research has concluded. Research does state that younger teens that smoke weed regularly are four times as likely to have schizophrenia in the latter half of their20’ss.Alcohol20’ss Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia and alcohol are connected. With the easy accessibility of alcohol, it is a go-to for people struggling with this mental illness. Research has shown that a third of the people with schizophrenia are alcoholics.
Meth Use and Schizophrenia
Meth is a drug that is abused by some who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Unfortunately, the effects of long-term meth use can lead to a fast onset or worsening of symptoms of schizophrenia. Psychosis, a well-known effect of methamphetamine can also closely resemble schizophrenia symptoms. In fact, the psychosis that accompanies meth may lead people to believe they have schizophrenia. The only way to differentiate the two is if a person abstains from using meth for over 60 days. If symptoms persist over 60 days and longer, it may be an indication that they actually do have schizophrenia.
Opioid Use and Schizophrenia
Opioid use is serious and continues to increase among Americans. Studies have shown that those who are addicted to opioids have a higher likelihood of developing schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders. People who have schizophrenia are also less likely to receive the care they need to overcome opioid addiction. The lack of care and resources increases the chances of homelessness.
Am I Schizophrenic or Is it The Drug Use?
If you are currently experiencing symptoms that would lead you to believe that you may have schizophrenia, you should seek mental health help immediately. If you are abusing drugs or alcohol, your symptoms are likely to continue to get worse.
It is also a possibility that your alcohol or drug use is producing hallucinations and states of psychosis. However, the truth is that there is no way to truly tell unless you abstain from drugs and alcohol for a significant period of time.
There is no way to truly tell if you are actually schizophrenic or experiencing psychosis as a result of drug use unless you abstain from drugs and alcohol for a significant period of time.
The best decision that you can make for yourself is to seek help at a drug and alcohol treatment center. If you’d like to discuss your treatment options, give us a call at (888) 906-0952
Schizophrenia and Addiction Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
When treating schizophrenia and an addiction, it is vital to treat both at the same time. Dual diagnosis treatment is the key to treating people with both conditions. If you treat one and not the other, it is unlikely to accomplish anything.
Like any other person with addiction, the same path to treatment applies. The first step for most people in a treatment plan is detox. Eighty percent of people with addiction need detox before they can start a treatment program.
Detox gets the mind and body ready to face the world ahead in a rehab program. It also helps the medical staff by figuring out what came first, the addiction or the schizophrenia.
After Detox, The Real Work Begins
Once a patient has gone through an evaluation and detox, treatment can begin. Treatment can include cognitive behavioral therapy, daily living coaching, and training, better-coping methods, family interaction, interviewing motivational techniques, and medication management.
The key to sobriety for a person with a dual diagnosis is helping with taking better care of themselves through better hygiene, sleep, and nutritional habits.
Armed with the right practices to treat both disorders, patients have a better chance of managing both conditions. Individualization is the key to any sobriety; this especially holds for people suffering from a dual diagnosis.
Inpatient Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction is Best
When deciding what kind of treatment is best, in most cases it would have to be inpatient treatment. Especially since treating both schizophrenia and addiction can be complex.
With inpatient treatment, there is around-the-clock care and fewer distractions. There is also the intensity of how the treatment is the approach, which has proven to be effective.
Patients learn to live a life without turning to drugs and alcohol to medicate the stresses and symptoms. With all the right tools of success, the person is less inclined to relapse or worsen their conditions.
Whatever the situation may be, there is help for anyone out there looking to end their dysfunctional relationship with substance abuse.
How to Find Help for Schizophrenia and Addiction
With over the millions of people that suffer from both schizophrenia and addiction every day, it is imperative to know there are resources to help fight both conditions.
Schizophrenia and addiction are linked. Research has proven that fact with substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana and how they elevate the symptoms.
While there are other substances like heroin, cocaine, and pills, these main three are the most common.
No matter what substances an addicted person uses, their mental illness will only make it worse. A person that is dealing with a dual diagnosis does have a tall mountain to climb, but there is hope. There are facilities out there that specialize in treating both conditions at the same time.
Through therapy and counseling, an addict will learn how to avoid the traps addiction presents and how to take better care of themselves in the real world. With the right approach to treatment, addiction will not take over your life anymore.
There is more support available to people who have a plan of action to make their lives better. There are even aftercare services that are available to help with sustaining sobriety.
Let’s discuss your treatment options for schizophrenia and addiction. The helpline is free and confidential. Call (888) 906-0952 today.
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