Drug Addiction and Mental Illness

Schizophrenia is often mistaken for drug abuse, and drug abuse is often assumed to be the sole cause of psychotic episodes in those with a schizophrenia diagnosis. The two can be so strikingly similar in effect that it’s easy to see why the mix-ups occur. The rumors are so thick that some even think that drug abuse can cause schizophrenia while others believe it’s okay to drink alcohol or occasionally abuse drugs like marijuana despite a schizophrenia diagnosis.


It’s important to note that drug addiction and schizophrenia can occur simultaneously. One does not preclude the other, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia should not mean that addiction issues are ignored. If drug addiction and schizophrenia are a problem for you or your loved one, it is important to obtain Dual Diagnosis treatment that addresses both issues in the same program. If one issue is treated and the other ignored or treatment is postponed on the co-occurring disorder, both treatments will fail. Both must be treated at the same time for the best chance at recovery.


If you would like more information about the Dual Diagnosis treatment centers near you, contact us today. The call is free and we can match you with the mental health treatment program that will best suit the needs of you or your loved one.


Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Symptoms of Schizophrenia


Certain drugs like crystal meth or PCP can produce psychotic episodes that resemble those caused by schizophrenia. Additionally, drug abuse by those living with schizophrenia can trigger an episode. When patients experience a psychotic episode, they are so removed from reality that they don’t know what they are saying, nor do they understand that their actions are dangerous to themselves or others, except in the cases of purposeful violence. In those cases, the patient generally believes that they are on assignment from God or that they are God and guaranteed the right to provide judgment through violent punishment.


If drugs are found in the system of those arrested for a psychotic episode, many doctors will assume that the event was purely informed by the drug and may not consider the possibility of a schizophrenia diagnosis. Unfortunately, if schizophrenia is an underlying issue, psychotic events may be triggered by drug abuse. It is important for family members to bring their loved ones back for follow-ups after a psychotic episode and record any evidence of delusions or hallucinations in order to secure the correct diagnosis.


Drug Addiction as a Cause for Schizophrenia


Some believe that schizophrenia can be caused by drug and alcohol abuse. This is not the case. Though drugs and alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of schizophrenia, there are no drugs that can cause schizophrenia through one use or a thousand uses. There are drug-related psychoses that may develop over time when drug abuse or addiction is an issue, but these are not schizophrenia though some of the symptoms may appear the same.

Drug Abuse and Use After a Schizophrenia Diagnosis


Because drugs and alcohol are so often the cause of psychotic episodes, even when a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia is stabilized on medication, no use of alcohol or drugs is recommended. In addition to the risk of triggering an episode, alcohol and drugs are extremely toxic to the liver when other medications are in the system. An occasional glass of wine or a beer at a social event may not be contraindicated if the patient has no issue with addiction or abuse – it may even be beneficial if it aids in social interaction. It is, however, something to discuss with a doctor before indulging. Excess drugs and alcohol cause problems in everyone and those diagnosed with schizophrenia can expect to experience even more problems than the average person.


The Connection Between Cigarette Smoking and Schizophrenia


Many will notice a significant correlation between cigarette smoking and a schizophrenia diagnosis. This is such a common phenomena that studies are being done on the nicotine receptors in the brains of those diagnosed with schizophrenia. The connection may be due to a simple need to occupy their hands during times of discomfort or it may signify a genetic difference linked to the genetic difference that caused the issue of schizophrenia. Research is ongoing.


Treatment for Schizophrenia and Drug Addiction


If you would like to learn more about how you can find treatment for both schizophrenia and drug addiction, we can help. Contact us at the phone number listed above today. Let us answer your questions and match you with a mental health treatment facility that will help you to find a life of balance and contentment.