About 2 million adults in the United States have schizophrenia. That works out to be about 1% of all people over 18 in our country. Schizophrenia is a very serious psychiatric illness that causes people to have difficulty responding appropriately in social situations, makes it difficult for them to maintain solid interpersonal relationships, and can make it hard for them to contribute to society in healthy ways. The symptoms of schizophrenia can become so severe that managing work or school is impossible.
For many who struggle with this condition, it can lead to self-medicating to manage symptoms, putting the individual at a high risk of becoming addicted to the drugs or alcohol they have turned to. Fortunately, Northpoint Recovery has the expertise to treat both schizophrenia and addiction. Call 208.486.0130 to learn more about co-occurring disorders treatment.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that can become debilitating when not treated properly. A key indicator of schizophrenia is that those who suffer from it have difficulty distinguishing between reality and the imaginary. Some experts say that it’s almost as though they live in a different world all their own. Because of their condition, being appropriate in social situations is quite challenging.
The severity of schizophrenia varies from person to person. However, it heavily influences how someone thinks, behaves, and feels. Schizophrenia is not as common as other types of mental health conditions, but those who have it find it a very disabling condition. People who have schizophrenia usually begin showing signs of it between the ages of 16 and 30, although there have been children who were diagnosed with schizophrenia as well.
Because of the severity of schizophrenia, it’s not surprising that so many people turn to addictions to get some relief from their symptoms. This condition can be incredibly overwhelming for the person who is suffering. Yet, it may also carry a bit of shame with it. While it might seem hard to believe, some will continue throughout their lives without getting a formal diagnosis for schizophrenia. They will only self-medicate their symptoms away by using drugs and alcohol. This is a dangerous way to live, and fortunately, there is a better way.
How Does Someone Become Schizophrenic?
Scientists and researchers aren’t sure what exactly causes schizophrenia to occur. However, they know that some risk factors make a diagnosis of schizophrenia much more likely in some people. The following play a role:
- Genes – Researchers do know that schizophrenia runs in families. However, the fact remains that there have been singular diagnoses of schizophrenia made that did not have a genetic history of it, or any other mental health issue, for that matter. Still, when someone has schizophrenia, the probability of someone else in the family being diagnosed with it is much greater.
- Environment – Several environmental factors may contribute to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. For example, if someone has been exposed to certain viruses, malnourished before being born, or has significant problems during birth, these can all contribute.
- Brain chemistry – When there is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, this can contribute to instances of schizophrenia. Dopamine and glutamate are two chemicals that help brain cells communicate with each other, and when these levels are off, schizophrenia can result.
If there are problems with brain development before birth, as the child moves into puberty, faulty connections can develop as the brain changes rapidly. These faulty connections can lead to psychotic symptoms and the eventual development of schizophrenia.
How are Addiction and Schizophrenia Linked with Each Other?
The symptoms of schizophrenia can range from being mild to being quite severe. Either way, the symptoms are difficult to contend with, which is why people will generally gravitate toward using substances as a way to self-medicate. Drugs and alcohol can temporarily relieve some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia. However, the perceived benefits of using drugs or alcohol are only short-lived.
As someone continues to use drugs or alcohol, dependence or addiction develops, which is practically impossible for them to stop on their own. Having schizophrenia makes them more susceptible to addiction, but because of the chronic nature of their illness, they continue self-medicating.
Also, it’s important to note that chemical imbalances are present in someone who has schizophrenia. Using drugs or alcohol can counteract these imbalances for a while. This is another reason why people who have this mental health condition are much more likely to use drugs or alcohol. The long-term effects of continuing in addiction cannot be ignored, and substances only serve to make schizophrenia symptoms worse in the long run.
Reach Out to the Specialists at Northpoint Recovery
Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They’ll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and ensure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free. Call 208.486.0130 today.