Schizophrenia and Drug Use

To treat schizophrenia and drug use
individuals should attend dual diagnosis treatment.

Dealing with any mental illness is a challenge. Not only are disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar isolating, but they can also push people toward substance abuse. Schizophrenia is no different. Its effects are brutal, and it can take time for people to figure out which medications effectively help treat it. This is how schizophrenia and drug use can become a problem.Schizophrenia and Drug Use

When struggling with any disorder, people often feel misunderstood and alone. If such people don’t have a healthy way to process these feelings, they may turn to substances. The loneliness of schizophrenia is compounded by the isolating effects of addiction. If someone is suffering from schizophrenia and drug use, they should consider contacting schizophrenia rehab centers for help before it’s too late.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that causes severe and distressing changes to the way a person perceives reality. The disorder, which is usually diagnosed during the first few decades of life, can be debilitating. Men often begin displaying symptoms of schizophrenia earlier than women.

Causes of Schizophrenia

Different things can trigger the onset of schizophrenia. However, researchers have narrowed it down to a few factors.

Genetics

It’s known that schizophrenia runs in families. There isn’t a single gene that guarantees that someone will develop the disorder though. However, there are a variety of genes that can increase a person’s risk. At this time, doctors are unable to predict whether a child will develop the disorder by testing genetics. This might be a possibility in the future though as researchers continue to examine the various contributing genetic factors that can cause a person to develop schizophrenia.

Trauma and Other Environmental FactorsIf someone has genetic factors that make them more susceptible to developing schizophrenia, environmental issues may be more likely to trigger the disorder.

Some of the traumatic factors that may play a role in the development of schizophrenia include:

  • Living in poverty
  • Experiencing ongoing stress or violence
  • Exposure to certain viral infections while in the womb
  • Suffering from malnutrition as a fetus

Scientists believe it’s the interplay between trauma and genetics that can cause schizophrenia. That said, it’s possible to develop schizophrenia even without a traumatic past.

Brain Chemistry and Structure

Brain structure is another important area of research that relates to schizophrenia. The human brain operates using neurotransmitters, which are essentially chemical messengers.

Researchers have discovered profound differences in neurotransmitter behavior, brain connections, and other aspects of brain functionality in patients with schizophrenia.

It’s believed that these changes in the brain occur prior to birth. When the person reaches adolescence and begins experiencing the chemical and hormonal changes of puberty, the first of the psychotic episodes often begin.

Past Substance Abuse

Abusing substances does not directly cause schizophrenia. Nonetheless, it can trigger an earlier onset of schizophrenia symptoms in those who are genetically predisposed to developing the disorder. Past substance abuse can also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia in the first place.

Research shows that teens and young adults who abuse cannabis are more likely to develop schizophrenia later on in life. Other drugs that can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia include cocaine, amphetamines, and LSD. These drugs can both trigger and worsen the condition of schizophrenia.

The Symptoms

Schizophrenia often comes on gradually. A number of minor schizophrenia symptoms may present prior to the first major psychotic episode.

Cognitive Difficulties

Someone in the early stages of schizophrenia may struggle with focus or memory. These symptoms may also continue or worsen as the condition develops. Some people with schizophrenia even experience minor cognitive struggles. For others, these problems are intense and disrupting.Causes of Schizophrenia

Someone with schizophrenia may struggle to focus on conversations, remember things, or make decisions. Processing information may begin to feel difficult. In some schizophrenic patients, issues with motor control may also develop.

Struggles with Depression

The symptoms of schizophrenia can mimic those of depression. For example, people that suffer from schizophrenia may lose motivation to partake in activities that they once enjoyed. They may withdraw socially, struggle with personal hygiene, and generally feel “flat.”

Some people find it difficult to speak or even make eye contact with others. They may also be unable to plan activities or follow a schedule. This can interfere with work, school, and personal relationships.

Psychosis

This is the most well-known schizophrenia symptom. People with the disorder often lose touch with reality and begin developing false theories or ideas about the world around them. These theories are often coupled with intense feelings of paranoia.

For example, the person may begin to suspect the government is watching them. They may become suspicious of those they love or start to feel unsafe in their own home. Hallucinations, which are another common symptom, often worsen this paranoia.

Hallucinations can come in the form of visions, sounds, smells, or other sensory experiences. These frightening experiences often play into the paranoid delusions the person is developing, confirming they have a reason to feel scared.

As time goes on, the person may start to suspect friends and loved ones are out to harm them. The combination of paranoia and hallucinations causes the person to isolate themselves. It’s during this time that many patients begin abusing substances as a way of self-medicating. Unfortunately, drug use will only worsen the condition.

Schizophrenia and Addiction

Feeling alone and isolated is a contributing factor to substance abuse to begin with. The gap between the person’s individual world and the rest of the world can widen over time in lonely individuals, causing worsening distress. 

For people with schizophrenia, the drive to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol can be overwhelming. According to statistics, people with schizophrenia are 50 percent more likely to abuse substances.

The reasons for the drug abuse vary. Some people abuse substances because getting high seems to temporarily relieve some of the schizophrenia symptoms. Others may do it out of hopelessness or self-destruction.

Another possibility is that the drug abuse is done as a way of supporting the individual’s delusional false reality. For instance, someone suffering from severe paranoia may begin taking amphetamines to ensure that they can remain awake and on guard at all times.

Not only can substance abuse trigger the onset of schizophrenia in the susceptible, but it can also make the condition much worse. Some effects of substance abuse, such as lack of sleep, can worsen a person’s paranoia and hallucinations. 

For someone with schizophrenia, this makes it even harder to connect to reality. Another factor that impacts one’s development of schizophrenia is the fact that a schizophrenic patient with addiction is more likely to stop taking his or her prescribed medications for the disorder.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and Drug Use

Treating addiction and schizophrenia requires professional care. First, the patient must detox from all substances under the supervision of a medical team. At that point, doctors will be able to assess the patient’s condition and begin planning a medication protocol. This process can be frightening and emotionally painful. This is why it’s so important for schizophrenia rehab centers to offer dual-diagnosis programs.Causes of Schizophrenia

There is no cure for schizophrenia. However, early intervention is key. The sooner the person receives help for addiction, the sooner the person can get on the correct medications. On the flip side, the longer people go without treatment, the more likely it is that they will end up harming themselves or others.

While schizophrenia doesn’t necessarily make a person violent, the delusions and paranoia it causes can sometimes cause people to act out of character. For instance, someone with schizophrenia may accidentally harm his or her spouse because that person mistook the spouse for an attacker. People with schizophrenia can also end up incarcerated due to their delusions making them do things they would never normally do. Substance abuse makes this possibility far more likely.

Thankfully, professional interventions can help. When patients with schizophrenia receive the care that they deserve, they increase their chances of living relatively normal lives. Antipsychotic medications are often used to treat schizophrenia symptoms. Doctors will cater to the treatment plan within the individual’s needs.

Other modes of treatment may include individual and group therapy, other medications, or various experiential therapies. The best route for a schizophrenic patient to take is entering an inpatient rehab center with a specialized focus on schizophrenia and drug use.

Receive Help for Schizophrenia and Drug Abuse at Grace Land Recovery is Here

Not only can schizophrenia destroy individual lives, but it can also cause the patient’s family a great deal of distress. If you are suffering from schizophrenia and addiction, know that it’s never too late to turn things around. If you have a loved one who is suffering from this co-occurring disorder, don’t wait to act. Grace Land Recovery is here to offer the hope you and your family deserve.

Our dual-diagnosis treatment center is located in Memphis, Tennessee. We aim to treat schizophrenia and addiction by caring for the patient’s mind, body, and soul. We believe this holistic approach provides each of our patients with the greatest chance of success.

Some of the treatment methods that we offer include:

  • Professional diagnosis and psychiatric care
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Clinical groups on nutrition, emotional regulation, and other important topics
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Rational emotive therapy
  • Medication management.

Today can be the day your life changes forever. Receive the help you deserve from an experienced and compassionate treatment team. If you’re ready to enter treatment for schizophrenia and addiction, please contact us now. Our representatives are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day.

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml 

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/schizophrenia/causes/#:~:text=Drug%20abuse&text=Certain%20drugs%2C%20particularly%20cannabis%2C%20cocaine,recovering%20from%20an%20earlier%20episode

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669586/ 

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Grace Land Recovery Center is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Our address is 134 Timber Creek Drive Cordova, Tennessee 38018. To visit our treatment center during business hours, feel free to stop by anytime Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. You can also contact us over the phone at 615-785-1137.

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