In the world right now, there are 51 million people who have schizophrenia. This is a mental condition that’s characterized by faulty perceptions, inappropriate actions and feelings, and withdrawal from reality. Schizophrenia is linked to drug use in various ways – it can be caused by drugs, such as marijuana, which is considered one of the most addictive drugs. Schizophrenia can also co-exist with drug dependence. If you or your loved one is experiencing schizophrenia as well as drug addiction, there are important things to know about how these two conditions relate to each other, and how to get the required help.
Can Schizophrenia Be Caused By Drug Abuse?
According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, using or abusing marijuana can play a contributing role in the onset of schizophrenia in some people. Why this happens is because the main ingredient of marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which affects the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of the brain. These are important areas in the brain that are used for creating and accessing memories, as well as making judgments. Interestingly, these are also parts of the brain that undergo changes in people with schizophrenia. This can lead to schizophrenia symptoms such as poor judgment, and short- or long-term memory problems.
The Role Of Genes In Schizophrenia
There’s also a gene that puts people at risk of developing schizophrenia if those people go on to use drugs. When Swedish people enlisted in the military and were monitored, researchers found that marijuana can boost one’s risk of schizophrenia by up to 30 percent if they’re already genetically susceptible to the disease. This is important to note as it’s said that schizophrenia is caused by a combination of environmental factors as well as genetics.
Youth Sometimes Brings Drugs And Schizophrenia Together
The onset of schizophrenia tends to occur during late adolescence or early adulthood. This is, interestingly, also the time when people might be experimenting with drugs or experiencing peer pressure from their friends to try illegal substances. It’s not just marijuana that can contribute to schizophrenia, but also cocaine, amphetamines, and LSD. All of these drugs can trigger schizophrenic symptoms or episodes in people who are susceptible to the condition.
Having Schizophrenia Often Leads To Drug Abuse
Research has found that almost half of people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia also abuse drugs or alcohol. Interestingly, symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to those of drug abuse, such as delusional thinking and hallucinations. It’s therefore not always easy to tell if someone’s symptoms are from schizophrenia or their drug use.
However, if the symptoms dissipate after drug use, then this could indicate that the real problem is drug dependence rather than mental illness. Making this distinction is important, as well as diagnosing both schizophrenia as well as drug addiction in people when they first show symptoms of having a problem so that they can get help. It’s also important that people who show symptoms of schizophrenia get evaluated for drug or alcohol dependence.
Self-Medicating With Drugs
Some people who have schizophrenia might self-medicate with drugs. An example is if someone is experiencing upsetting symptoms from the schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, and they want to get rid of them. They might turn to an illegal drug to try to gain relief or escape from the nightmarish symptoms. Another example is if someone with schizophrenia is battling to sleep, so they think a drug that calms them down will help them beat their insomnia. The problem with people self-medicating by using illegal drugs is that they can make schizophrenia symptoms even more upsetting and intense. Instead of finding healthier ways to get sleep and deal with other symptoms of the disease, they’re worsening their situations and accumulating more problems.
Marijuana is a common drug that people with schizophrenia use to self-medicate, but the problem is that research has found it can actually worsen these people’s clinical outcomes. That’s because MRI studies have found that people with schizophrenia who use marijuana regularly lose more of their brains’ gray matter than people with schizophrenia who don’t use the drug.
There are also other horrible side effects that can occur when people with schizophrenia turn to illegal drugs for relief. Research published in the Oxford Journals has found that substance abuse can cause a variety of negative consequences for someone who has schizophrenia. These include an increased risk of being violent, a psychotic relapse, an increased risk of committing suicide, and an increased risk of experiencing side effects from antipsychotic drugs.
Best Treatment For Schizophrenia And Drug Dependence
So, if you or a loved one is experiencing schizophrenia and drug addiction, what treatments are recommended? Medications, such as anti-psychotics, are usually prescribed to people with schizophrenia. However, psychotherapy is valuable for treating schizophrenia and substance abuse. Cognitive behavior, which is the adjustment of negative behaviors that impact the person’s life, is usually the type of psychotherapy that can be beneficial to people with schizophrenia and substance abuse. It’s essential for the person to attend cognitive therapy with their loved ones so that relationships and support systems can be strengthened.
Drug rehab is important to help people with schizophrenia and drug addiction regain control of their lives. Many people with schizophrenia battle to lead normal lives, such as holding down jobs and maintaining healthy relationships with others. When combined with substance abuse, this can have a catastrophic effect on their lives. During rehab, people with mental conditions such as schizophrenia and substance abuse problems will be able to gain support from others, learn coping skills, and learn healthy ways to live without substance abuse in a way that enables them to better manage conditions such as schizophrenia.
There are many ways in which schizophrenia and drug abuse are linked to each other. Sometimes, drug abuse can lead to schizophrenia. Other times, schizophrenia can cause people to use drugs for relief of their condition. It’s essential for people with schizophrenia and drug problems to reach out for help and support. Both of these conditions can be managed in such a way that they don’t have to negatively impact one’s quality of life.