Struggling with a mental illness that makes one experience the world in a different way than most individuals is a lonely experience. Add struggling with a substance use disorder on top of it, and the loneliness that one may feel may become unbearable. This is often the case with individuals that suffer from schizophrenia and addiction.
That’s why it’s so important to bring awareness to this co-occurring disorder. By learning about the causes, signs, and symptoms of schizophrenia and addiction along with how to properly treat this dual diagnosis disorder, individuals with schizophrenia and addiction can more easily receive the help that they need. That way people with schizophrenia or the co-occurring disorder of schizophrenia and addiction don’t have to go through life alone anymore.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental and behavioral disorder that causes individuals to misinterpret reality. Individuals that suffer from schizophrenia misinterpret reality because they experience things such as:
- Imaginary voices
- Disordered thinking and behavior
Individuals that suffer from schizophrenia also often experience extreme levels of paranoia. For example, it’s not uncommon for a person with schizophrenia to think that someone is reading his or her mind. Individuals that suffer from schizophrenia also often think that others are controlling their thoughts.
What Is Schizophrenic Behavior?
When individuals experience severe cases of schizophrenia, all senses of reality are lost. As a result, many people that are not knowledgeable about schizophrenia assume that people that suffer from schizophrenia are crazy. Some may even assume that people with schizophrenia have split personalities or are dangerous.
These assumptions cause there to be a stigma around those that suffer from schizophrenia. Due to this stigma, people often avoid those with schizophrenia, thus forcing them to live an even lonelier existence.
Due to the ostracization and loneliness that individuals that suffer from schizophrenia often experience, schizophrenics often experience depression. Individuals with schizophrenia also often withdraw from society and start abusing drugs due to the ostracization that they experience.
How Does Schizophrenia Start?
Most people that have schizophrenia don’t develop the disorder until they’re in their teens or early adulthood. Once schizophrenia develops though, it doesn’t go away. Therefore, individuals that suffer from schizophrenia who desire to engage with others and function in society in a healthy manner must receive proper treatment.
Statistics About Schizophrenia
Less than 1% of people in the United States suffer from schizophrenia. 0.25%-0.64% of individuals in the U.S. suffer from schizophrenia to be exact. With less than 1% of people in the U.S. understanding what it’s like to suffer from such an already ostracizing disorder, it’s no wonder that so many people that suffer from schizophrenia feel alone.
The loneliness that usually comes with suffering from schizophrenia often leads those with schizophrenia to commit suicide. As a result, more than 10% of people with schizophrenia will commit suicide within their first ten years of suffering from the disorder. This means that more people with schizophrenia commit suicide each year than individuals in the general public.
Schizophrenia and Drug Use Often Co-occur
This is because many people with schizophrenia use drugs to help them cope. In fact, studies show that 50% of people that suffer from schizophrenia contain a history of drug abuse.
It’s statistics such as these that show why it’s so important for all people to educate themselves about schizophrenia. That way, people can recognize the signs and symptoms of the disorder and assist those with schizophrenia in receiving the treatment that they need rather than ostracizing them.
Individuals that suffer from just schizophrenia should receive specialized mental health treatment. Individuals that suffer from both schizophrenia and addiction should receive dual diagnosis treatment that utilizes addiction therapy.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
There are numerous signs and symptoms of schizophrenia that people can pick up on. One subtle but common early sign of schizophrenia is always being flustered. This is especially true when being flustered is associated with anxiety and a lack of focus. Common symptoms of schizophrenia include the following:
Delusions are false beliefs that aren’t based on reality. It’s very common for people with schizophrenia to experience delusions. For example, individuals with schizophrenia may believe that someone that doesn’t exist or that they barely even know is plotting to hurt them.
Hallucinations occur when one hears or sees someone or something that doesn’t exist. It’s more common for people that experience hallucinations to hear people or things that don’t exist than to see people or things that don’t exist.
Disorganized Thinking or Speech
Disorganized thinking or speech is characterized by poor communication skills that often don’t make sense. For example, individuals with disorganized thinking and speech will say things that don’t make sense or string words together that don’t make sense.
Disorganized or Abnormal Motor Behavior
Disorganized or abnormal motor behavior is characterized by excessive movement and inappropriate posture. As a result, people with disorganized or abnormal motor behavior will often fidget and not focus. The disorganized or abnormal motor behavior that people with schizophrenia or the co-occurring disorder of schizophrenia and addiction display can range from being subtle to severe.
Lack of Personal Hygiene
Many people that suffer from schizophrenia are so busy living in their alternate reality, that they stop taking care of their personal hygiene. A sudden lack of personal hygiene is also a common symptom of substance addiction. Therefore, most individuals that suffer from schizophrenia and drug addiction will lack personal hygiene.
Inability To Make Eye Contact
People that develop schizophrenia start to lose their social skills due to living in an alternate version of reality and being ostracized from society. One common social skill that people with schizophrenia often lose is the ability to maintain eye contact in conversation.
Inability To Speak With Animation
People that suffer from schizophrenia also often lose their ability to speak with animation. This is partly due to people with schizophrenia not connecting with others. When people with schizophrenia lose their ability to speak with animation, it causes others to think that they are weird, which only leads to further ostracization.
Inability To Make Facial Expressions
Another symptom of schizophrenia that often causes others to ostracize people with this disorder is the inability to make facial expressions. This is because expressing emotion through facial expressions helps people connect with others.
Causes of Schizophrenia
Researchers still don’t know the exact cause of schizophrenia. They believe that a combination of the following factors causes the disorder:
Like with most disorders, genetics is a likely cause of schizophrenia. Studies even show that stress can trigger the development of schizophrenia in people that have the disorder run through their genetic history.
Studies also show that when an identical twin suffers from schizophrenia, the other twin has a 1 to 2, or 50% chance of developing schizophrenia as well. When a fraternal twin suffers from schizophrenia, the other twin has a 1 to 8 chance of developing the disorder. These statistics are significant because schizophrenia is a rare disease that less than 1% of the U.S. population develops.
Chemical Changes in the Brain
Imbalanced or low-level neurotransmitters in the brain can help cause schizophrenia. This is especially the case when it comes to the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which can overstimulate the brain.
Researchers believe that the chance of developing schizophrenia increases when women experience complications during pregnancy or delivery. Whether or not this is a fact is still unknown though.
Many people with schizophrenia experience hallucinations that relate back to their childhood. As a result, researchers believe that childhood trauma can cause schizophrenia.
Previous Drug Use
Researchers believe that previous use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, or amphetamines can trigger schizophrenia symptoms in people that contain a predisposition for the disorder. When individuals suffer from schizophrenia and drug use, they must seek dual diagnosis treatment for schizophrenia and addiction to get better.
Schizophrenia and Addiction
It’s very common for people that suffer from schizophrenia to turn to drug abuse. In fact, studies show that 50% of people that suffer from schizophrenia also contain a history of substance abuse. This is partly because people with schizophrenia are often depressed and ostracized from society. Thus, to cope with all of the negative emotions that come with being depressed, alone, and stressed out due to feeling as if others are out to get them and that they’re the only ones living in an alternate version of reality, many people with schizophrenia will chronically abuse substances until they develop full-fledged substance addictions on top of their mental and behavioral disorder.
Unfortunately, over time, alcohol and drugs only worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia. In fact, abusing substances can cause individuals that already suffer from schizophrenia to not want to take their treatment medication. This too only worsens one’s schizophrenia symptoms.
Schizophrenia can also increase one’s abuse of substances and the severity of the addiction. This is especially true since some of the symptoms of schizophrenia and addiction overlap.
Individuals with worsening schizophrenia and addiction symptoms can even develop psychosis, which is a similar condition to schizophrenia. Individuals that suffer from schizophrenia and addiction are also prone to being violent.
The only way to treat the co-occurring disorder of schizophrenia and addiction is to receive dual diagnosis treatment at a proper facility. Many individuals will also need to attend medical detox prior to attending dual diagnosis treatment for schizophrenia and addiction. That way they can rid their body of all drugs and enter dual diagnosis treatment sober.
The Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction
Dual diagnosis treatment is the treatment of both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder at the same time. Dual diagnosis treatment is important when treating co-occurring disorders such as schizophrenia and addiction because treating one disorder without simultaneously treating the other will cause the lingering disorder to trigger the treated disorder.
For example, if a person that suffers from schizophrenia and drug addiction treats the drug addiction before treating the schizophrenia, the lingering schizophrenia will trigger the person’s desire to abuse substances again to cope. This desire to use substances again will likely lead to a relapse.
On the flip side, if a person that suffers from schizophrenia and addiction treats the schizophrenia prior to treating the addiction, the lingering addiction will make chemical changes in the brain that will trigger schizophrenia symptoms.
Therefore, to truly rid themselves of schizophrenia and addiction, individuals must simultaneously treat both disorders through dual diagnosis treatment. Luckily, some addiction treatment centers offer dual diagnosis treatment for schizophrenia and addiction.
Receive Dual Diagnosis Treatment At Florida Center for Recovery
At Florida Center for Recovery, we understand the importance of dual diagnosis treatment when treating co-occurring conditions such as schizophrenia and addiction. That’s why we offer high-quality, specialized co-occurring disorders treatment for dual diagnoses. On top of that, the alcohol and drug rehab programs here at Florida Center for Recovery are the most comprehensive models in the country.
To learn more about Florida Center for Recovery and the various dual diagnosis and alcohol and drug rehab programs that we offer, contact us over the phone or by web message on our website. We would love to hear from you!