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Schizophrenia and Addiction

Schizophrenia is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusional thinking. Schizophrenia can be so displacing that the development of it often leads to substance abuse. Addiction and Schizophrenia may as well go hand in hand since they often engage in substance abuse as a way to self-medicate or alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, symptoms of schizophrenia often mimic those of substance abuse, like unpredictable mood swings or hallucinations.


It is not uncommon for individuals struggling with this mental health disorder to be mistaken for having a substance use disorder. Individuals that battle both disorders face a prognosis known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. There are schizophrenia rehab centers available that offer advice to new patients and families with this mental health disorder.


To find out your options for treatment, you can call us here: 772-774-3872.



Addiction and Schizophrenia



What is Schizophrenia?


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that causes people to interpret reality from a different perspective. Those that suffer from schizophrenia have trouble differentiating the imaginary from reality. They often experience hallucinations and distracted thinking that hinder daily activities.


How Does Schizophrenia Develop?


Schizophrenia is believed to affect an estimated two million adults. That makes one percent of all US Americans.


Medical professionals believe schizophrenia is caused by a change in the balance of chemicals in the brain. In the brain, there are chemicals like serotonin, glutamate, and dopamine that help the body function. When there is an imbalance in those chemicals, the development of schizophrenia is likely. The imbalances of chemicals affect the way the brain reacts to stimuli. This can lead to symptoms of schizophrenia-like hypersensitivity and delusions.


Additionally, medical professionals believe genetics play an important part in development. Research shows that schizophrenia develops in 10% of individuals who have a parent or sibling that are impaired by this disorder. It’s also important to consider the environment in which a person is raised and how that can take part in the development of schizophrenia.


Taking part in a schizophrenia rehab center will create an opportunity to understand the development of mental health disorders and how to cope with it.


Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia


Early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can appear in puberty-age kids, but most individuals aren’t diagnosed until late teens or early 30s.


Furthermore, signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can be similar to those of substance abuse. To tell the difference, pay attention to early warning signs.


Some of those early warning signs include:


  • Loss of interest in activities and friendships
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Negative thoughts
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Lack of personal motivation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking
  • Not aware of the environment/surroundings
  • Disorganized speech and motor behavior
  • Bizarre changes in speech or handwriting


To understand this mental health disorder, many schizophrenia rehab centers are offered as a way to manage this unpredictable disorder.


Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse


Individuals that develop schizophrenia often succumb to a substance abuse disorder as well. Medical professionals believe substance abuse does not cause schizophrenia, but it does act as an environmental trigger.


Environmental triggers can be a major factor in the development of substance abuse; the majority of those that suffer addiction and schizophrenia experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.


Research shows that individuals predisposed to develop schizophrenia are also at risk for substance use. The individuals that suffer from this mental health disorder may use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. This self-medication routine can result in addiction and schizophrenia, often referred to as a co-occurring disorder.


Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse


Some of the typical traits between schizophrenia and substance abuse can include:


  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Poor personal choices and risky behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Scattered thoughts
  • Acting delusional
  • Not able to concentrate
  • Withdrawn from family and friends







An estimated 50 percent of individuals that suffer from schizophrenia have a history of substance abuse. At a schizophrenia rehab center, they will offer guidance in learning how to cope with both these disorders.


Research has discovered a strong link between alcohol and nicotine use in schizophrenia patients. However, two of the less common forms of substance abuse in people with schizophrenia are cocaine and marijuana.


While the relationship between this mental health disorder and substance abuse is common, it is not fully understood. Medical professionals still question the link between. Schizophrenia rehab centers work to navigate the questionable links between substance abuse and schizophrenia.


Those that abuse drugs— like cocaine and marijuana— and suffer from this mental health disorder will most likely experience cognitive impairment and a more intense psychosis. Individuals experience a more intense high because of the chemical compounds these drugs are made from.




Nicotine is a challenging addiction to deal with while also suffering from a mental health disorder like schizophrenia. It can be even more of a challenge if one tries to quit; nicotine has a withdrawal effect and can heighten psychotic symptoms.


Those that suffer schizophrenia and rely on nicotine have a higher risk for hallucinations, delusional thinking, and disorganized speech.


The use of nicotine is popularized in society with close to thirty percent of the population taking part. For those that suffer schizophrenia, the number multiplies. With approximately three times the amount of individuals that take part in smoking, careful strategies need to be considered. In schizophrenia rehab centers, medical professionals work to combat this statistic and apply methods such as a nicotine replacement patch.


In cases that involve schizophrenia, rehab centers will distribute antipsychotic medication to help control the symptoms. Despite the help of antipsychotic medication, it will not be effective if the patient is addicted to nicotine. If antipsychotic medication is prescribed, the dosage will likely be higher than the regularly suggested amount.


Why is Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Similar?


Schizophrenia is mistaken for substance abuse because the disorders have similar symptoms. This can sometimes cause the doctor to misdiagnose or cause them to consider the likelihood of co-occurring disorders. Nevertheless, schizophrenia rehab centers provide the medical attention necessary to diagnose the patient correctly.


Regarding this mental health disorder, there is something referred to as “negative symptoms” when associating schizophrenia with substance abuse. These negative symptoms are usually present years before an individual suffers their first schizophrenic episode.


To look out for family and friends and to be aware, you can search for negative symptoms such as:


  • Lack of interest or motivation
  • Lack of personal hygiene and appearance
  • Loss of interest in friends
  • Not emotional or expressive
  • Insomnia


Negative symptoms are associated with schizophrenia, but usually get mistaken for other mental health disorders, such as depression.


These negative symptoms are the result of the inability to function normally; schizophrenia causes changes to thought patterns and perceptions. Drug-induced psychosis is similar as it causes one to think inaccurately and causes reality to be distorted.


Treatment options


In the case that an individual suffers from both schizophrenia and addiction, they should seek medical attention at a schizophrenia rehab center. There, medical professionals are designed to treat both diagnoses and provide the vital attention needed.


Individuals that suffer from co-occurring substance abuse disorders, such as schizophrenia and addiction, will find the recovery process difficult. Most people with this disorder do not seek treatment when addicted to drugs or alcohol. Therefore, the best option for treatment would be an integrated approach.


Once an individual is evaluated for schizophrenia and given a diagnosis, they will enter a detoxification process. This process rids the body of toxins and helps ensure the therapists that psychotic symptoms aren’t just a side effect of addiction.


If medical professionals at the rehab center diagnose the patient with schizophrenia, antipsychotic medication is normally prescribed. This medication will attempt to control symptoms and alter the chemicals in the brain. These chemicals— serotonin, glutamate, and dopamine— have the effect of changing your behavior, mood, and emotions. It’s thought that antipsychotic medication has the most effect on the dopamine chemical of the brain, the chemical messenger.


Besides the use of antipsychotic medication, in-patient rehab is another approach to treat schizophrenia.


Inpatient Treatment


Inpatient rehab or residential treatment requires an individual to spend at least one night or longer in a substance-free healthcare facility. This type of rehabilitation allows a medical professional to diagnose treatment for the patient. Moreover, the treatment is designed to meet their specific needs.


Just like at a schizophrenia rehab center, the patient will receive around-the-clock care and attend therapy sessions, either individually or with a group. This process is best for those that suffer a co-occurring disorder, and will usually require a follow-up form of aftercare.


Aftercare Treatment


Aftercare is an on-going treatment process that is provided for individuals recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. This type of treatment is normally pursued after the recovering addict achieves initial sobriety. In an aftercare program, a treatment plan will be created to benefit the addict in their recovery. Aftercare can take the form of inpatient or outpatient treatment and it encourages one to live life fully without regrets.


Schizophrenia rehab centers offer help other rehab centers are not designed to provide. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) found that as many as half of the 2 million Americans who seek treatment with schizophrenia can recover.




Aftercare treatment for addiction




Get Help Today


Those with a dual diagnosis, like schizophrenia and addiction, are at further risk for suicidal thoughts and homelessness. These individuals are also at risk for legal troubles and incarceration as their erratic behavior leaves some people questioning their safety. In schizophrenia rehab centers, medical professionals aim to counter these statistics and reverse the stereotype of individuals with mental health disorders.


If you or a loved one are suffering from a form of schizophrenia or substance abuse, contact us at Behavioral Health Centers for a guide to better help today.

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