Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Up to 60 percent of chronic schizophrenic patients have been reported to be substance abusers (Hambrecht 1). The comorbidity of drugs and alcohol asks the question if one disorder causes another disorder. From a collected sample of 232 schizophrenic patients, alcohol abuse prior to admission was found in 24 percent (Hambrecht 2). Whereas, drug abuse was found in 14 percent. These rates are two times higher than the rates in the general population (Hambrecht 2). Both alcohol and drug abused more often followed than preceded the first symptom of schizophrenia.

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However, after alcohol, a drug of choice varies for schizophrenia patients fluctuates over time and demographics. Only a few longitudinal studies have been researched for the effects of substance abuse in schizophrenia. Nevertheless, there is data that persistent substance abuse can accelerate the onset of schizophrenia in people whose biology is vulnerable to the disorder (Chambers 1). It is thought that repeating usage of substance abuse can alter the dopamine system, which can result in behavioral change and symptoms of schizophrenia (Chambers 3).

So schizophrenic patients who were alcohol and drug abusers showed to have lower serum fluphenazine levels and more hospitalizations. Because of the abuse of drugs and alcohol, treatment is harder for schizophrenic patients (Chambers 3). I believe that is due to the fact that the patients are less compliant with their psychiatric treatment and tend to discontinue. It is clear that there needs to be something done for people with schizophrenia abusing drugs and alcohol. I feel that no one has really looked into helping those suffering from both schizophrenia and substance abuse. Psychiatric treatment focuses on understanding, support, and care (Mueser 6). I believe these three things would be a helpful treatment for people suffering from schizophrenia; however, I do not believe this approach would be beneficial to people abusing drugs and alcohol. Most of the time substance abuse it usually ignored in psychiatric treatment, unless it conflicts with antipsychotics or other treatments.

There was a general agreement made by scientists on requirements for an effective treatment for people who suffer from schizophrenia and substance abuse. The first requirement is for there to be a dual program that helps people with both psychiatric needs and substance abuse needs (Mueser 6). I agree that programs need to be present and active. Separate treatments tend to be ineffective and more difficult for patients to navigate. However, the dual programs are scarce, so there needs to be a sufficient amount to help treat people suffering from both disorders. The second requirement for an effective treatment is being able to distinguish and the group who uses these drugs recreationally and who depends on these drugs (Mueser 7). Being able to differentiate these patients will help create a more effective treatment.

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Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse. (2021, Mar 13). Retrieved from