Treating Schizophrenia in Rehab

Treating Schizophrenia in Rehab

Schizophrenia affects over 20 million people. It is not a disorder to be ashamed of, but it does require treatment. Find out how addiction impacts schizophrenia.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a life-long mental illness that results in cognitive disconnect, derealization, mood disorders, and in some cases, hallucinations and psychosis. Originally discovered by Dr. Emile Kraepelin in the 1800s, schizophrenia currently affects over 20 million people worldwide. As far as mental illness, schizophrenia is considered rarer and more dangerous than more common illnesses.​​1

Types of Schizophrenia

There are 4 types of schizophrenia:2

  • Paranoid: Paranoid schizophrenia is often characterized by hallucinations and a fear that you’re being plotted against. Another key part of paranoid schizophrenia is delusional thinking, mainly the thought that a person is more important than they are.
  • Disorganized: Disorganized schizophrenia impacts mood, speech, and communication. A client with disorganized schizophrenia will have a difficult time communicating with and understanding those around them.
  • Residual: Residual schizophrenia is primarily used to describe the time between schizophrenic events such as psychosis or extreme depression. Residual is the least harmful mental state for a person with schizophrenia.
  • UndifferentiatedUndifferentiated schizophrenia occurs when a person shows signs of more than one schizophrenia diagnosis. For example, disorganized schizophrenics showing signs of severe paranoia would be classified as undifferentiated.

Causes of the Different Types of Schizophrenia

  • Genetics: Genetics decide a person’s propensity towards addiction, impulse control, and the likelihood of mental illness. The exact genetic cause of schizophrenia has not yet been identified. However, the prevailing theory is that it is caused by several genetic anomalies, each contributing to the intensity of the disease.2
  • Brain Structure and Chemistry: Brain structure such as the development of the prefrontal cortex, temporal lobes, and reward centers of the brain all play a factor in schizophrenia—brain chemistry in particular impacts mood, energy levels, and higher thought. A dysfunction in any of the systems mentioned above can cause various mental illnesses or learning disabilities.2
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental factors that cause severe trauma can contribute to the onset of schizophrenia. Additionally, poverty-stricken environments have less access to diagnoses or treatment for schizophrenia. Lack of treatment causes schizophrenia to develop freely. While it is possible to treat schizophrenia at any stage, catching it early on is best.2
  • Stress: Stress, defined by high levels of cortisol, can induce underlying mental illnesses, weaken a client’s resolve, and cause rash behavior. This is especially true for children as severe stress can alter brain development.2

Symptoms for the Types of Schizophrenia

Different types of schizophrenia present specific symptoms. The most common symptoms include:3

  • Delusional Thinking: Paranoid schizophrenics suffer from delusional thinking. This symptom means they have an unrealistic view of their importance, people’s interest in them, and a fundamental disconnect between realistic expectations and goals.
  • Hallucinations: Hallucinations can affect any person with schizophrenia. However, it is most frequently associated with paranoid schizophrenics. They can experience audible, visual, tactile, and olfactory hallucinations that they may not be able to distinguish from reality. These experiences may be lifelong.
  • Disorganized Speech: Most seen in disorganized schizophrenics, disorganized speech is an inability to communicate clearly. They also have a hard time reading social situations and reacting appropriately.
  • Disorganized Motor or Catatonic Behavior: Disorganized schizophrenia impairs movement and causes uncontrollable twitches. Catatonic schizophrenia occurs once a person becomes entirely unresponsive. This response is due to an increase in white matter in the brain. Excess white matter can cause a breakdown in neuron communication. Essentially, it becomes difficult for one part of the brain to send signals to the other.

Negative Symptoms

n the context of mental health, negative symptoms involve lacking an important brain chemical, behavior, or skill. For example, a common negative symptom of schizophrenia is depression. Depression arises from a lack of serotonin, dopamine, and other happy chemicals. Comparatively, positive traits involve an overabundance of certain chemicals or overexcited brain signals.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Isolation
  • Inability to communicate properly
  • Emotionally disconnecting
  • No motivation

Is Schizophrenia Linked to Substance Abuse?

  • Cocaine and Schizophrenia: Cocaine causes an increase in dopamine production. In time, this reaction can lead to burnout and dependency. Cocaine can also cause sleeping issues and worsen depression.
  • Marijuana and Schizophrenia: Marijuana can cause schizophrenia to develop earlier and have more intense effects, especially in children.
  • Alcohol and Schizophrenia: Alcohol intensifies the effect of schizophrenia and contributes to depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Nicotine and Schizophrenia: Nicotine increases dopamine production. People with schizophrenia have lower levels of dopamine. As such, cigarette smoking often begins as a way of self-medicating.

Illicit drug use can counteract schizophrenia treatment. It is vital not to mix alcohol and drugs prescribed for schizophrenia treatment. Moreover, drugs may feel nice at the moment but they only make the effects of mental disorders worse.

Statistics on Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse5

  • Over 70% of people with schizophrenia have nicotine dependency.
  • 50% of schizophrenia clients have or had issues with illegal substance dependency.
  • Individuals with schizophrenia are 4.6x more likely to develop dependency.
  • Schizophrenia is one of the top causes of disability.
  • 4.9% of people with schizophrenia commit suicide.
  • Men develop schizophrenia earlier than women.

 Risk Factors for Schizophrenia and Addiction

  • Self-Medication: A person with schizophrenia may develop self-medication habits, I.E., addiction, as a way of coping with their symptoms. This reaction is often treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Genetic Vulnerability: Genetics control the likelihood of mental illness and addiction. Children of drug users or those with mental health are more likely to develop one or the other.
  • Environmental Vulnerability: Environments can cause trauma which leads to extreme stress, brain fog, and poor decision making.
  • Neurobiological Links: Neurobiological links are responsible for mood, movement, and other key functions. Schizophrenia can disrupt the connections and cause several physical ailments. Another neurobiological link includes the connection between drug use and the reward center of the brain.

Treating Schizophrenia and Addiction

Here are the best options for schizophrenia treatment.

  • CBT: Cognitive-behavioral therapy works to change a person’s habits, outlook, and coping mechanisms.
  • Motivational Interviewing: Motivational interviewing works to get a patient more excited about the future and their potential.
  • Medications: Antipsychotic drugs and medication is required to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. These drugs work to even out the natural brain chemistry and improve one’s mood. Schizophrenia medication is taken for life. Consult your doctor if you are thinking of stopping your medication.6



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