Facts About Schizophrenia and Addiction
Schizophrenia, often misunderstood by the general public, is variously named as a psychiatric condition, mental illness, or mental disorder that affects close to 1% of the world’s population. Doctors and scientists are still in search of the exact cause, but one thing they do know is that the chances of progressive alcohol or drug abuse are almost 50-50 for anyone in this at-risk group. Alcohol and drug use with a dual diagnosis of schizophrenia is a pretty bad idea. Even under treatment, symptoms get dramatically worse, and you’re more likely to continue the pattern of addiction.
Can Drugs and Alcohol Cause Schizophrenia?
There’s a lot of research, published and ongoing, to find the link between schizophrenia and substance abuse. The long and short of all these theories are not exactly understandable. Each condition significantly impacts the severity of the other, but which came first? Well, you get the point.
There are some studies suggesting that the use of cannabis in early adolescence accelerates the onset of schizophrenia, as well as increases the risk of developing substance abuse disorders in the future. The same report also hints at early cannabis use acting as an on-switch for the genetic factors predisposing you to this challenging condition.
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Can Schizophrenia Cause Substance Abuse?
Here’s where some more recent studies get interesting: A unifying hypothesis incorporated findings of an impaired brain reward system in patients with schizophrenia and a history of drug use. The result is a hypersensitivity to dopamine, leaving the subject susceptible to persistent problems with substance abuse disorder. It may even be the smoking gun that led to their initial use. It’s a complex thesis that, if borne out, could revolutionize drug rehabs across the globe.
Shared Risk Factors for Schizophrenia and Addiction
Possible signs of long-term abuse for many of today’s most popular drugs include cognitive impairment, poor decision-making, delusions, and hallucinations. If you’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia, any one of these, or all of them, could be where you start. Getting help has a significant impact on your day-to-day life. One can live a full and happy life with a strict regimen of dialectical and behavioral therapies and antipsychotic medication.
Without addiction help, life with this particular mental illness gets challenging. Throw some drugs and alcohol on top of that, and things start looking pretty bleak. Patients with a co-occurring substance use disorder often go off their meds and refuse treatment. This process can lead to more severe outcomes like relapse, homelessness, violence, hospitalization, and suicide.
Most antipsychotic medications in use today aren’t effective tools for addiction treatment, making it critical to the safety of any person diagnosed with schizophrenia to seek professional medical and psychiatric treatment and stay on it. An early study on clozapine as an effective dual diagnosis medication shows some promise, but it’s too soon to tell.
Treatment for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
A popular misconception about schizophrenia is that it makes a person dangerous and unpredictable, and the heartbreaking reality is that people with schizophrenia are often the victims of violent crime. The dual diagnosis program at WhiteSands Treatment Center provides a safe environment to regulate your medication, address the specific needs of your medical condition, and attend one of our top-rated alcohol and drug rehabs. A world-class team of medical professionals, therapists, and other specialists are on hand to oversee every aspect of your customized plan and guide your recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with schizophrenia and substance use, we urge you to contact the WhiteSands Treatment Center near you and speak with one of our compassionate addiction treatment specialists today. Everyone deserves to live free from substance abuse and let us show you the way.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.