Substance abuse takes a toll on mental health, but do you know how extreme the effects can be?
From seizures to strokes, the excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine can lead to a myriad of brain disorders. Among these disorders is schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia can be caused by genetic, biological, and environmental factors, but it can also be a product of substance abuse.
Here are some quick schizophrenia facts and how it’s connected to substance abuse.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that keeps the afflicted party from distinguishing between reality and imagination, often blurring the two together. Schizophrenia can cause hallucinations, psychological delusions, and disorganized speech patterns.
The onset of schizophrenia usually occurs in the early 20s for men and late 20s for women. When emerging in teens, schizophrenia is often hard to diagnose because the symptoms can seem to be fairly normal teenage behaviors such as depression, irritability, and lack of motivation.
Schizophrenia rarely occurs in children, but some indicating factors include abnormal movement and delayed language skills.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The first signs of schizophrenia often include depression, a flat expression, and withdrawal from social situations.
The afflicted party will often find social situations difficult because they have a hard time portraying emotion and concentrating. They may begin to isolate themselves or become hostile and anxious.
In extreme cases, schizophrenia can cause the afflicted party to believe their thoughts aren’t their own or that normal events have a special meaning. People with schizophrenia may eventually turn to drug use, making their symptoms worse and possibly getting into trouble with the law.
How Drugs Cause Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can lead to drug use, but sometimes it’s the other way around. Drugs can cause an imbalance of the chemicals serotonin and dopamine in the brain, leading to hallucinations and hypersensitivity. Though drugs don’t directly cause schizophrenia, they increase the likelihood of developing it.
Psychoactive and psychotropic drugs like marijuana and cocaine can alter the neurotransmitters in the brain and make symptoms worse for people who already have schizophrenia.
Who’s at Risk for Developing Schizophrenia?
Young men and individuals who haven’t completed higher levels of education are at a higher risk of abusing substances, leading to schizophrenia.
Teens who regularly smoke potent forms of cannabis are more likely to develop schizophrenia by their mid-20s.
People who already have schizophrenia may try to self-medicate with alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and cannabis, making their schizophrenia worse. Symptoms may also be worsened in individuals who have experienced a stressful event.
Those with addiction problems or who tend to relapse after recovery may develop schizophrenia.
Knowing Schizophrenia Facts for Recovery
Now that you know these schizophrenia facts, it’s time to seek treatment for the afflicted person in your life.
Currently, there’s no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated and managed with helpful medication and therapy. Treating both substance abuse and schizophrenia together is the best means of recovery!
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