The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that as many as 1 in 6 people can have a diagnosable substance use disorder. You may be wondering how drug abuse leads to schizophrenia and what the signs are if you know someone who is abusing drugs. Read on for more information about the connection between these two issues, so you will better understand them both.
How Does Drug Abuse Lead to Schizophrenia?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 1 in 6 people in the U.S. have a diagnosable substance use disorder at some point in their lives. But how does drug abuse lead to schizophrenia? And how do you recognize the signs if someone you know is abusing drugs?
Drug abuse is a complex condition, with a variety of causes and contributing factors. However, there is a growing body of evidence that shows certain types of drug abuse are linked to the development of symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. The association between specific drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and hallucinogens and the development of schizophrenia symptoms is unclear. However, experts believe that drug abuse and psychosis may be linked due to:
- Shared risk factors – These include genetic vulnerability and an “environmental trigger.” Genetic vulnerability means that certain people are more likely to develop drug abuse and psychosis. Environmental triggers are factors in the environment that can push vulnerable people over the edge into psychosis.
- Similar treatment approaches – It’s important to note that while the association between specific drugs and schizophrenia is unclear, there are many treatment approaches that are effective for both. It’s possible that these treatments are effective because they address both drug abuse and psychosis.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, people with schizophrenia are more likely to smoke pot than people without schizophrenia. This association may be due to shared risk factors or the fact that people with schizophrenia are more likely to experience a mental health crisis, which can lead to risky behavior, including drug use. It’s also possible that people with schizophrenia are more likely to experience the “environmental triggers” that prompt them to use marijuana.
Although marijuana is commonly used as a treatment for an array of conditions, including epilepsy and pain, it doesn’t have the same effects when taken by someone who has schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia often experience hallucinations and delusions while they’re under the influence of marijuana, which can lead to the false belief that people are out to hurt them or that the world is unreal or imaginary.
The effects of cocaine are well-documented. The drug causes feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and talkativeness. However, these effects can lead to risky behavior and psychosis when used by people with schizophrenia. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine abuse is more common in people with schizophrenia than in the general population.
Cocaine is thought to cause dopamine release in the brain, which is associated with the rewarding effects of the drug. Feelings of pleasure are pleasurable and satisfying, so they’re rewarding. Dopamine is associated with movement and movement is thought to be a vital aspect of survival, so dopamine release is associated with psychosis.
Amphetamine is popular as a cognitive-enhancing drug to increase alertness and focus. These effects can be dangerous when combined with antipsychotics, which is why people with schizophrenia are often prescribed amphetamine alternatives, such as Adderall or Ritalin.
Amphetamines release norepinephrine, which is associated with increased anxiety, stress, and a sense of urgency. Anxiety is a common symptom of schizophrenia and is associated with a range of troublesome behaviors, including substance abuse and neglect of responsibilities at home and at work.
People with schizophrenia often abuse substances to alter their mood or relieve depressive symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness. Many street drugs, including LSD and magic mushrooms, are hallucinogenic drugs that cause delusions and hallucinations.
These effects are unpleasant for people with schizophrenia and can lead to disruption in daily functioning and substance abuse. It’s also important to note that hallucinogens commonly have abuse potential, so people with schizophrenia may use them recreationally to feel better temporarily, even if they don’t have a diagnosed substance use disorder.
People with schizophrenia are more likely to abuse alcohol than people without schizophrenia. This association is likely due to shared risk factors, such as a genetic vulnerability and an “environmental trigger.” Some people with a genetic vulnerability to substance abuse might turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate their condition or cope with its symptoms. Drinking alcohol can also be pleasurable, rewarding, and calming, qualities that are associated with people with schizophrenia.
There is a growing body of evidence that shows certain types of drug abuse are linked to the development of symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. Drug abuse is a complex condition, with a variety of causes and contributing factors. The association between specific drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and hallucinogens, and the development of schizophrenia symptoms remains unclear but, nonetheless, linked.
Asheville Recovery Center
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent unhealthy behaviors and help those who are already struggling. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health, it is important to get treatment. At Asheville Recovery Center treatment specialists utilize a 12-step program and practice holistic rehabilitation.
Services at the center include:
Partial Hospitalization Program – At Asheville Recovery Center we offer a partial hospitalization program for clients who need post-residential treatment as well as for clients who need primary treatment but are unable to enroll in inpatient programs. Our PHP track offers a variety of therapeutic services and benefits to individuals in early recovery from substance addiction.
Outpatient Rehabilitation – During intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), clients live at home or in a sober living residence while completing an addiction treatment program. IOP is a place where clients can process their experiences in twelve-step fellowships and support one another in those individual journeys.
Addiction is difficult to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call and speak with an addiction expert today.