Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects around 1% of all Americans, or approximately two million individuals.
One of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia is being unable to distinguish real life from the imaginary.
People with this disorder may struggle to act appropriately in social situations and have trouble controlling their emotions. This frequently leads to problems in interpersonal relationships or other key aspects of their lives, such as work or school.
Schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder (MPD) are sometimes mistaken for each other. Most people with schizophrenia, however, do not have multiple personalities and are not aggressive, as is a more common symptom of people suffering from MPD.
What Causes Schizophrenia
While the exact etiology of the condition is unknown, experts believe it is associated with the following factors:
Schizophrenia often runs in families. In fact, it happens in 10% of people with the disease who have a first-degree relative, such as a brother or parent. Specific genes acquired from one’s parents, according to researchers, may raise the likelihood of getting schizophrenia. Scientists have also discovered that people who have schizophrenia frequently have unusual genetic abnormalities that might affect brain development.
Imbalances in various brain chemicals, such as glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine, have been associated with the disease. These imbalances impact how the brain responds to stimuli and can result in hypersensitivity and hallucinations, both of which are prominent symptoms of schizophrenia.
Scientists have discovered minor abnormalities in the brain anatomy of those who suffer with the disease. These changes include diminished gray matter, larger ventricles (fluid-filled chambers in the middle of the brain), and increased or decreased activity in certain parts of the brain.
Some experts think that a person’s environment and heredity factors may have a role in the development of schizophrenia. Environmental factors may include birth-related health issues such as infection, viral exposure, or malnutrition. Other unidentified psychological variables may also play a role.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is characterized by various symptoms that make it difficult for sufferers to lead a normal life. The symptoms might be cognitive, behavioral, or emotional in nature.
Typical signs of schizophrenia include:
A person who has schizophrenia may have beliefs and thoughts that are not grounded in reality. These delusions are typically based on misread sensory experiences (for example, seeing a light flicker and misinterpreting it as a signal of some kind).
Delusions can include the following:
- Feeling harassed or intimidated by a real or fictitious person.
- Believing in one’s extraordinary fortune or magical abilities.
- Feeling that a tragedy is on the way.
- They believe they are someone else, such as a historical person or a celebrity.
- It might be difficult to persuade someone who has schizophrenia that their delusions are not real
A hallucination occurs when a person hears, sees, smells, or feels something that does not exist. A person who has schizophrenia may believe in an experience that has no basis in reality. Hearing voices is one of the most prevalent hallucinations in people suffering from schizophrenia.
Disordered thought leads to disorganized speaking. Schizophrenia patients frequently struggle to organize and structure their thoughts. This might result in abrupt, mid-sentence topic shifts or the use of nonsensical words that are difficult to understand. In addition, the individual may repeat words and phrases, utilize rhyming terms, or make random, nonsensical assertions.
Addiction and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia and addiction, often known as substance use disorder (SUD), are frequently seen in dual diagnosis cases.
In fact, an estimated 50% of people with schizophrenia have a history of substance abuse.
People with schizophrenia frequently abuse drugs and alcohol in an effort to self-medicate or relieve anxiety and sadness.
Although substance abuse does not cause schizophrenia, it has been noted as a risk factor. Someone with pre-existing genetic risk factors for schizophrenia may develop an active case after a period of substance abuse. Using substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines can potentially aggravate and intensify schizophrenia symptoms.
Because schizophrenia and substance abuse symptoms are so similar, the conditions are frequently confused. This can sometimes make diagnosing schizophrenia or co-occurring diseases challenging. On the other hand, researchers continue to examine the illnesses separately and concurrently to increase the accuracy of dual diagnosis.
Schizophrenia and Addiction Treatment
When treated separately, schizophrenia and addiction are often treated with a mix of medication, psychotherapy, rehabilitation courses, and support groups.
Dual diagnosis programs treat both schizophrenia and drug addiction together, rather than as two distinct disorders.
In general, the initial step in dual diagnosis therapy is detox—the act of eliminating drugs from the user’s system. Once the drug has been removed from the user’s body, a clinical team can better analyze the patient’s schizophrenia symptoms and identify the next steps of treatment.
Antipsychotic drugs are often used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Several prescriptions may be evaluated before determining the most effective drug to address a patient’s individual chemical imbalance.
Dual diagnosis individuals attend multiple therapies to address the underlying causes of their problems in addition to taking medication to control their symptoms.
Another type of therapy used to treat co-occurring schizophrenia and addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT assists the patient in identifying particular behaviors or ways of thinking that lead to their addiction and schizophrenia. It can also help patients learn how to control symptoms of schizophrenia, such as auditory hallucinations, which may continue even when antipsychotic drugs are used.
Get Help for Schizophrenia and Addiction
If you or a loved one has schizophrenia co-occurring with addiction, help is available. Contact Addiction Rehab Treatment today. One of our compassionate treatment navigators can help guide you to the right addiction treatment program.