Schizophrenia – (an Overview of How It Relates to Addiction, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment)

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that, unfortunately, often goes hand-in-hand with drug abuse. People who misuse drugs and suffer from schizophrenia need intensive treatment in order to safely recover from these issues and get back to living a healthy life. Call 800-654-0987 now to find the best rehab program for your particular needs.

What Is Schizophrenia?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” Many people believe that a person suffering from schizophrenia has lost touch with reality. Symptoms of the disorder often come on between the ages of 16 and 30.

Though schizophrenia isn’t as common as many other mental disorders (one percent of the population has it), it can be extremely debilitating to the individual and their loved ones (US Department of Veteran Affairs).

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How Does Schizophrenia Relate to Addiction?

Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia have trouble organizing their thoughts.

Unfortunately, schizophrenics will often turn to substance abuse as a coping method, similarly to other individuals suffering from mental illness. A large amount of individuals who have schizophrenia also smoke and, in turn, are addicted to nicotine. This group actually smokes at 3 times the rate of the normal population.

Some types of drug abuse can also increase a person’s chances of exhibiting schizophrenia. While substance abuse does not cause this disorder to happen altogether, it can be one of the reasons why someone who is susceptible to the disorder eventually succumbs to it. Psychoactive drugs like marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, etc. can trigger symptoms of the disorder in those who are already likely to experience it.

Other times, substance abuse can create symptoms that are extremely similar to those of schizophrenia. For example, the abuse of stimulants like amphetamines, crystal meth, and cocaine may cause a full-blown psychosis that, over time, will subside if the person stops abusing drugs. However, they may also experience these symptoms years later and without warning.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia and Addiction?

There are actually three different types of symptoms, according to the National Library of Medicine. They include:

Psychotic symptoms

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Trouble organizing thoughts
  • Strange movements
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Negative symptoms

  • Difficulty showing emotion
  • Difficulty functioning normally
  • Depression
  • Isolation or withdrawing oneself

Cognitive symptoms

  • Trouble using information
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty paying attention

What if I Suffer from Dual-Diagnosis?

While we are still unsure as to what causes schizophrenia, substance abuse can worsen the issue in a serious way. And, sadly, as stated by the medical journal European Psychiatry, there is a large overlap between individuals with severe addictions and individuals suffering from schizophrenia.

Drug abuse can increase one’s chances of experiencing this disorder and its symptoms while it can also, in some cases, create symptoms that are extremely similar to those associated with the disorder. In turn, those who are already suffering from schizophrenia are much more likely to turn to substance abuse and to consequentially become addicted than many other populations.

How Are These Comorbid Disorders Treated?

People who suffer from both drug abuse and schizophrenia often require long-term treatment in a rehab facility that offers 24-hour care. In addition, it is extremely important that both disorders are treated simultaneously, as, if one goes untreated, it will be extremely likely to derail the progress made on the other disorder.

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Medications, such as antipsychotics, are often a large part of treatment for schizophrenia. Often, those individuals experiencing severe psychotic symptoms in the beginning of addiction treatment will take these medications as well. It is extremely important that all pharmacological options should be able to be used safely and successfully together.

Also, behavioral therapy is very helpful to recovery. Patients can learn better coping mechanisms than substance abuse and to understand why they began abusing drugs in the first place. Learning to understand and view one’s disorders in a healthy light is also essential to recovery.

Seek Help Today

Schizophrenia can be a devastating and frightening disease, as can addiction. Therefore, it is important to remember that you are not alone and you can get better. Call 800-654-0987 now to find rehab programs that will help you recover safely and effectively from both disorders.