Schizophrenia and addiction frequently occur at the same time for many people. They often feel as though they have no choice but to use substances. Sometimes they may use drugs or alcohol that help their symptoms. Other times, they may choose substances that enhance them.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
Substance abuse is prevalent among those with schizophrenia. As many as 50% of patients with this mental health condition also have a substance abuse problem.
Clearly, there is a link between these two conditions. The question that many people want to know the answer to is, why?
Perhaps you're wondering the same thing. Maybe you've been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and you also have an addiction. You may have not realized the two were connected to each other. Unfortunately, many cases of schizophrenia go undiagnosed. Many of these individuals use various substances to cope with their symptoms. You could fit into either of these two scenarios.
The important thing is that you understand what schizophrenia is, and how it relates to addiction. At Northpoint Washington, we want to help you do that. Once you have a better grasp of schizophrenia, it may help you understand your own condition. It's also important for you to know that you can get the help you need.
Let's begin by talking about how you can recognize schizophrenia if you're suffering from it.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects almost everything about a person. It affects the way they feel, act and think. Those who have schizophrenia often appear as though they've completely lost touch with reality.
Schizophrenia is not as common as some other types of mental health conditions. However, for those who have it, it can be very debilitating. It can cause them to lose interest in some of their favorite activities. Their relationships often suffer drastically. They may or may not be unable to work.
It is common knowledge that schizophrenia can be genetic. There may be some genes that increase the risk of this condition. However, it's much more likely for environmental factors to play a major role. Someone may develop schizophrenia because:
Schizophrenia does not affect everyone the same way. Everyone is different, and the type of schizophrenia one person has may be different from another person's.
There are different subtypes of schizophrenia. However, it's important to note that subtypes can change as the years go by. Just because an individual falls under one subtype now, that can easily change eventually.
The different subtypes of schizophrenia are:
Someone with this subtype experiences auditory hallucinations. They may also have delusional thoughts about conspiracy or prosecution. Even so, those with paranoid schizophrenia may be able to be better contributors in society. They are often able to hold down jobs, and they can usually maintain relationships with others. There are a few different reasons why this might be the case.
Paranoid schizophrenia doesn't usually manifest until later on in life. Prior to the onset of symptoms, people have the opportunity to form relationships. Their levels of functioning are much higher, and they can usually learn to manage their symptoms.
Someone with this subtype will often experience thoughts that are very disorganized in nature. They may also have hallucinations or delusions, but they aren't as pronounced. Sufferers may find it very difficult to complete daily living tasks. For example, they may have trouble with bathing or brushing their teeth.
In addition, the emotions of someone with disorganized schizophrenia are often impaired. They may seem to be emotionally unstable at times. They may seem almost giddy at inappropriate times. Other times, they may have more of a flat affect, with no emotional response at all.
Communication is often a major barrier for someone with this subtype as well. They may have trouble forming words or sentences, making themselves difficult to understand.
People with the catatonic subtype of schizophrenia experience serious disturbances in their movements. They may dramatically reduce their physical activity. This can almost reach the state of catatonia. They also can experience times when they have catatonic excitement. This is characterized by an increase in movements.
These individuals may also repeat their movements over and over again. Usually, their movements don't really serve any specific purpose. Any attempts at repositioning them are usually met with resistance.
This subtype involves symptoms that don't necessarily classify individuals into one of the other subtypes. They may have symptoms of all of the subtypes at times. At other times, they may appear to be quite stable.
The residual subtype occurs when once prominent symptoms are greatly reduced. These individuals may have hallucinations or delusions, but when they occur, they are diminished. When compared with the acute form of their illness, the difference is quite significant.
Because there are so many different subtypes of schizophrenia, there are also many symptoms. The symptoms of this condition usually develop between the ages of 16 and 30. Although, there have been some children diagnosed with it as well.
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall under three different categories. They are the positive symptoms, the negative symptoms and the cognitive symptoms.
The positive symptoms of schizophrenia include:
The negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:
The cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia include:
It's not always easy to tell if you are suffering from schizophrenia. You may think that something isn't quite right, but you can't quite identify what it is. It might be helpful for you to ask yourself some questions that can give you some answers.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may have schizophrenia. If you do, you may also suffer with an addiction. It's so important for you to get the type of treatment you need.
There are several different treatment options for those suffering with schizophrenia. These include:
For many people with schizophrenia, it seems almost impossible to cope with their symptoms. They often struggle with not being understood by those around them. They may frequently experience anxiety, and this can drive them to use substances.
This is especially true if they have never gotten any other type of treatment.
Self-medicating with substances offers temporary hope to people with schizophrenia. However, they may choose substances that can make their symptoms even worse. For example, marijuana has been known to exacerbate symptoms of schizophrenia. Hallucinogenic drugs can do the same thing. Many schizophrenics will opt to drink alcohol because of its depressive effects.
The longer someone with schizophrenia continues to use substances, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Schizophrenia and addiction are co-occurring disorders that need a specific type of treatment.
Integrative addiction treatment has been shown to be very effective for those with schizophrenia. This is also known as dual diagnosis treatment. It is specifically utilized as a way to treat the reasons behind an addiction.
For almost everyone with both conditions, schizophrenia came first. They choose to use drugs or alcohol to help themselves feel better. That means that schizophrenia is the root cause of their addictions. Dual diagnosis treatment offers help for both conditions at the same time.
This is primarily accomplished through psychotherapy in individual therapy sessions. Counselors are trained to be able to recognize co-occurring disorders. They will use the right type of therapy for each patient.
In treating schizophrenia and addiction together, patients are very likely to have a much better treatment experience. They are also more likely to experience a long-term recovery. Symptoms can effectively managed with other methods, and patients receive education on this.
Now that you realize you probably have a co-occurring disorder, you need to know where to get help. It's so important to treat these conditions together and not separately. Doing so gives you a much better chance at having a successful recovery.
Your symptoms may have been what drove you to start using drugs or alcohol. However, there are very effective ways that you can manage your symptoms without them. Dual diagnosis treatment will help you to understand what those ways are. It will also pinpoint the source of your addiction. This will only serve to make your treatment more effective in the long run.
At Northpoint Washington, we understand how you might be feeling. You may have always known that there was something different about you. Your friends and family may have been encouraging you to get help for a long time. Honestly, you just didn't know that there was anything else you could do. However, now you know there's a way out, and we'd like to help you find it.
Do you suffer from schizophrenia and addiction? If so, we can provide you with the support and treatment you need. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.