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A severe neurological disorder, Schizophrenia causes a person’s reality to become altered or broken from real life. Hallucinations, disorganized thought process, and delusions coupled with personality constraints that are often described as “strange” are common repercussions of this mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in the United States alone, approximately 18.5% of the population experience some type of mental illness in any one given year. Out of those number, 1.1% live with schizophrenia. About 50% or 10 million adults have a co-occurring mental illness coupled with substance abuse disorder.

Because schizophrenia interferes with a person’s thought process, communication and behavior, work, relationships, and cognition are significantly impaired. It is not uncommon for someone that has this mental illness to live unemployed, homeless, and even attempt suicide. People who have schizophrenia are also at a much higher risk of developing a drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Scientists still do not understand schizophrenia, but a number of environmental and/or genetic factors can cause it. It has been noted that sometimes schizophrenia is often identified in the brain before birth. However, this is not always the case. There can be any number of environmental stressors and triggers that can induce a schizophrenic attack.

Several physical and mental conditions make someone with schizophrenia struggle in everyday life. They may not have the ability to pay attention, concentrate, process information, make sound decisions, or may even struggle with their memory. This is what can lead a person with schizophrenia down the path to substance abuse and alcohol addiction.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the most common problems with schizophrenia is substance abuse. Everyone lives with everyday stress and struggles with life. However, a person living with schizophrenia may often look for ways to cope with life itself.  Mind-altering narcotics and other drugs that offer a euphoric feeling by releasing excessive levels of dopamine can heighten their sense of “wellbeing” and “pleasure.”

The problem is, these drugs are often highly addictive and lead to more physical and mental disorders.

Risk Factors of Addiction and Schizophrenia

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that alcohol, drug, and smoking addiction rates are higher among people with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects the parts of the brain that deal with impulse control. People with mental illnesses often do not make the right decisions and engage in risky behavior. Because drugs and alcohol can seem to improve a person’s mood and make them feel good for some time, it is easy for an addiction to develop. A person with schizophrenia is more likely to develop substance abuse and addictions due to their lack of impulse control. Schizophrenia and addiction are often linked with family history, resulting in co-occurring disorders.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

A person with schizophrenia is often depicted in our culture as someone who has a complete disengagement with reality. The truth is, someone with schizophrenia might experience a wide range of symptoms which are each different from person to person, but their reality is very real to them. Think of autism and how people are rated differently on a scale depending on their overall symptoms.

Here are several symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech and thinking patterns
  • Diminished interest in people and everyday life
  • Self-neglect
  • Difficulty in completing tasks
  • Struggles with impulse control
  • Inability to perform simple and basic functions

Someone with schizophrenia may have all of these symptoms, or just a few. The condition will present with varying intensity and degree. It depends on the individual, and what triggers the onset.  With treatment, people with schizophrenia may not show any symptoms and be able to live a normal life.

Schizophrenia and Addiction Treatment

Schizophrenia is a lifelong mental illness. There is no cure, but it can be treated reasonably. Addiction, on the other hand, can be cured and managed. A medical rehabilitation facility will have the capability of not only treating the addiction symptoms and detox but also employing the necessary mental health counseling and treatment for people with schizophrenia.

The first step of the process is usually dealing with the co-occurring substance abuse problem. Once individuals go through detoxification, the symptoms of mood swings, depression, and anxiety may become present. This often drives addicts to run back to their substance of choice. However, within a rehab facility, the person can get the help they truly need. Contact Serenity Acres if you want to know more about the relationship between schizophrenia and addiction. If you know someone that is suffering from one or both conditions, we are here to help.