The Combination of Schizophrenia and Addiction in Treatment
Almost half of the individuals that seek treatment for an addiction have a concurring mental health issue. About one percent of the American population suffers from Schizophrenia. When left untreated, this mental illness can result in increased drug use and unusual behaviors. Almost half of the individuals with a Schizophrenia diagnosis have a concurring addiction. It is important to research and understand the ties between Schizophrenia and addiction in those with a dual diagnosis while enrolled in treatment.
What is Schizophrenia?
In some individuals, Schizophrenia can be fairly severe. It is a chronic condition that affects how individual think, act, and feels. Individuals who live with schizophrenia, when left untreated, seem to belong to another world altogether. They experience hallucinations, uncharacteristic behaviors, and even hear voices that aren’t there. Those with schizophrenia don’t start to experience symptoms of the illness until they are 16-30 years of age. Men seem to experience symptoms at an earlier age, and more men currently live with the illness than women.
Why Do People Develop Schizophrenia?
Psychologists have found a few different factors for Schizophrenia development. The reasons that a person may develop the mental illness includes:
Genetics: Most individuals who have been diagnosed with Schizophrenia have at least one immediate family member that also has the illness. However, there are exceptions to this rule. There are people who develop the illness with no family members who also have it. Additionally, there are people who have many family members that have Schizophrenia but never develop it themselves.
Exposed Genes: Although there is no one specific gene that leads to Schizophrenia, there is research that proves that genes that are exposed to certain environments play a part in the development of the disorder in certain individuals. When exposed to a different environment, the genes can pose a greater risk of Schizophrenia development. The environmental exposure that may play a part on how genes develop into this illness includes malnutrition before birth, contact with certain viruses, psychosocial elements, and problems during birth.
Brain Differences: Many scientists hold a truth in the fact that those with Schizophrenia have a different brain structure than other people. This structure shows a difference in the way that the brain communicates with the rest of the body and implements the use of various chemicals to regulate mood, sleep, and hunger. Some studies show that brain development before birth plays a role in the development of Schizophrenia later in life, too.
Common Effects of Schizophrenia
Distorted Thinking: A person with Schizophrenia will have thoughts they think are derived from reality, but they really are not. This includes a fictitious feeling that the individual was assaulted, false delusions of power or success, extreme paranoia that something bad will happen, and believing they are a different person. The schizophrenic individual experiences these false beliefs and delisions as reality, even if a mentally sounds person explains their falsehood.
Hallucinations: Individuals with Schizophrenia often see, hear, or experience things that are not there. An example would be an individual believing they have had a conversation with a person who is no longer alive.
Unusual Behaviors: People afflicted with this mental illness will sometimes portray motor skills that cannot be controlled. Posture and positioning turn into movements that lack impulse control and a state of unresponsiveness is also a symptom.
Negative Symptoms: These symptoms are apparent before the others since they are a prerequisite to the first Schizophrenic episode a person will have. Depression, anxiety, apathy, inability to focus, trouble sleeping and a social neglect are signs of negative symptoms.
Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction
The effects of drugs and alcohol can imitate the effects of Schizophrenia. In many cases, utilizing alcohol or drugs can make the symptoms of Schizophrenia worse. Those with mental illness carry a stigma in our society. People are afraid of their differences instead of sharing compassion and understanding. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol for those with Schizophrenia is not uncommon, and addiction follows close behind.
Additionally, synthetic drugs, especially LSD, may lead to Schizophrenic episodes, even in those with no previous experiences with the illness. Other hallucinogens like marijuana can add to the paranoia that already accompanies a person with Schizophrenia. To treat a combination of Schizophrenia and addiction, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction
For those with concurring Schizophrenia and addiction, it is best to address both concurrently. To do so, the dual diagnosis approach works best. First, a doctor psychologically evaluates the patient and prescribes the correct antipsychotic medications. These medications do not cure the illness but make symptoms manageable. Dialectic behavioral therapy works to identify the underlying causes of addiction, even for those with Schizophrenia. In this therapy, patients will work to understand the ties between their addiction and their mental illness. Better understanding the causes of ailments helps patients learn how to prevent relapse and Schizophrenic episodes. Dual Diagnosis treatment for both Schizophrenia and addiction works if the patient is dedicated, motivated, and convinced that they need help. You don’t have to live another day that you can’t control. Find help for your Schizophrenia and addiction today.