- Most Common Drugs
- Reasons for Drug Abuse
- Beating Drug Abuse
About 10 to 70 percent of people with schizophrenia do recreational drugs.
- According to a study, 11.9 percent of people with schizophrenia had drug abuse.
- One in four people with schizophrenia had a cannabis use disorder.
- According to the American Addiction Center, 50 percent of people with schizophrenia exhibit substance abuse compared to the general population.
Why do people with schizophrenia resort to the drug?
According to some studies, some of the reasons for people with schizophrenia to turn to drug abuse are to:
- Numb down their misery
- Improve social performance
- Belong and share a group experience
- Avoid losing a peer group
- Attain intoxication
- Reduce side effects of medicines
- Reduce aggression
- Combat distressing emotions and experience
- Feel powerful or creative
- Cope with trauma or loss
- Achieve a sense of identity
- Escape dull life
- Use self-medication to deal with negative symptoms of schizophrenia, which include:
- Social withdrawal
- Sleeping problems
- Feeling uneasy or unhappy
Some notions among these people that motivate them to try drugs include:
- Drugs were not believed to cause psychosis
- The preferred substance was more acceptable in the hierarchy of acceptability of drugs
- Illicit drugs worked as a medicine
- Using drugs was normal in their community
Some of the factors that can make a person vulnerable to drugs are:
- Family discord and social influences
- Specific personality traits
- Childhood trauma
- Poor brain functioning
- The severity of schizophrenic symptoms
What symptoms do a person with schizophrenia taking drugs exhibit?
Although schizophrenia can dramatically alter a person’s thoughts, emotions, speech, and behavior, these symptoms are difficult to identify in people under significant drug influence. Drug use can disguise the symptoms of schizophrenia and vice-versa.
Some of the common symptoms seen in people with schizophrenia and substance abuse are:
- Unpredictable moods and behaviors
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Delusional beliefs about oneself and others
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
- Disorganized thoughts
- Rapid, pressured speech
- An odd or inappropriate emotional affect
- Poor judgment and high-risk behaviors
- Lack of concentration
What are the complications of drug abuse in people with schizophrenia?
Some of the complications of drug abuse in people with schizophrenia are:
- Higher chances of relapse or recurrence
- Chances of exhibiting risky behavior
- Higher hospitalizations
- Increased suicidal tendency
- Increased risk of injury and illness
- Intensify schizophrenic symptoms
- Low compliance with treatment
- Higher cognitive impairment
How can you beat drug abuse?
Motivation and self-directed behavior change is key to reducing drug abuse in people with schizophrenia. Both the conditions need to be addressed individually. Treating one condition can lead to relapse and a low compliance rate.
The initial phase of treatment includes a detox period, where the person is treated for withdrawal symptoms.
Following the initial treatment for withdrawal, other treatment options include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Adult daily living skills training
- Family involvement
- Substance refusal skills training
- Medication management
- Motivational interviewing techniques
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Winklbaur B, Ebner N, Sachs G, Thau K, Fischer G. Substance abuse in patients with schizophrenia. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2006;8(1):37-43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3181760/
American Addiction Centers. Schizophrenia Among Drug and Alcohol Addicts: Treatment and Statistics. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/schizophrenia-and-addiction
Asher, C.J., Gask, L. Reasons for illicit drug use in people with schizophrenia: Qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry. 2010; 10: 94. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-10-94
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