Schizophrenia has been around for centuries and was classified over a hundred years ago. Despite being with us this long, it is continually misunderstood and is one of the most stigmatized diseases to this day. Schizophrenia is often mislabeled as a split personality disorder, though they are two completely different conditions.
Schizophrenics are at an increased risk of developing other substance use disorders. Taking drugs and/ or alcohol while being schizophrenic can severely aggravate its symptoms and make it harder to undergo treatment and maintain sobriety. Though schizophrenia is a lifelong disease and there is no known cure, there are many therapies that are proven to be effective in its treatment.
Below is an outline of schizophrenia, how you can spot it, and treatment options available for you or your loved one at Amethyst Recovery Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic mental health disorder that impacts a person’s behavior, thoughts, perception of reality, ability to express emotions, and how they relate to others around them. Schizophrenia is not that common, but it is the most chronic and disabling of mental health illnesses. This lifelong disease can only be managed with proper treatment and healthy coping skills.
Despite what many people believe, schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality. Schizophrenia involves psychosis, which is a type of mental illness where a person can’t separate reality from imagination.
The severity of schizophrenia is different from person to person. Some people experience a single psychotic episode, while others suffer numerous psychotic episodes in their lifetime while living relatively normal lives in between. Symptoms of schizophrenia worsen and improve in cycles known as remissions and relapses.
Types of Schizophrenia
The types and classifications of schizophrenia have changed over the decades. Previously, health professionals categorized schizophrenia as one of the following five types:
- Paranoid type
- Disorganized type
- Catatonic type
- Undifferentiated type
- Residual type
Today, doctors no longer classify different types of schizophrenia because medical experts noticed that the previous types had many overlapping symptoms and features. Schizophrenia normally appears in the late teenage years or early adulthood, but it is known to affect children as well.
Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Statistics
- According to Port St. Lucie substance abuse statistics, 96% of people who needed treatment but didn’t receive it believed that they were doing just fine.
- The most common substances abused in Port St. Lucie are alcohol, opioids, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine.
- The Florida Department of Health records show that there were 8,093 fatal overdoses in Florida in 2021.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 1.5% of adults in Florida had a serious mental illness (SMI) in 2019, which includes schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
People suffering from schizophrenia normally die much earlier than expected. Suicide and unnatural deaths can claim up to 40% of this excessive and premature mortality. Schizophrenic people see an estimated lifetime suicide risk of 4.9%. It is important to detect those at risk early, but risk prediction in this field is known to be imprecise.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia affects each person differently, but there are some common signs that a person may have this disorder. Some of these signs include:
- Speech that is intact but difficult for others to interpret and comprehend
- Absence of facial expressions
- Absence of emotional expressions
- Absence of motivation
- Concentration difficulties
- Psychosis (hallucinations and delusions)
Before experiencing these symptoms, a person may appear to be:
- Out of sorts
- Unable to focus
A deeper look at schizophrenia’s symptoms follows below.
A person experiencing delusions has an unwavering belief about something, no matter what the evidence shows.
For example, they may believe that:
- They are extremely important.
- Someone is chasing them.
- Other people are attempting to remotely control them.
- They have remarkable abilities or powers.
A few people encounter hallucinations. The standard type is hearing voices, but hallucinations can impact all the senses. For example, a schizophrenic person might see, feel, smell, or taste, things that are not there.
Confused Speech and Thought
A person’s thoughts and speech may erratically hop from one subject to another, and this can make it hard to follow what the person is trying to convey.
This can be accompanied by memory problems and information comprehension difficulties.
The above-listed symptoms can also affect a person’s:
- Motivation. This leads to neglecting daily activities such as personal hygiene and self-care. Catatonic episodes may accompany this, rendering a person unable to move or even talk.
- Emotional expression. A person’s responses to social stimuli may become inappropriate or not completely absent.
- Social life. A person may become a recluse, usually due to fear of harm by others.
- Communication. The person’s distinctive thought and speech patterns can make communication with others difficult.
Numerous people with schizophrenia do not recognize that they are ill. The hallucinations and delusions suffered by these people can seem so real that it becomes hard to convince the person to seek professional treatment in Port St. Lucie, Florida, or take medication.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors for Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia likely develops when distinct environmental and genetic factors combine.
For example, the subsequent factors may all contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
If there is no familial history of schizophrenia, the chances of someone developing it are negligible. However, the risk increases if one of their parents had/has a schizophrenic diagnosis.
Chemical Imbalances in the Brain
Schizophrenia seems to evolve when there is an imbalance of the neurotransmitter dopamine and perhaps serotonin in the brain.
Environmental factors capable of causing schizophrenia include:
- Trauma during birth
- Malnutrition before birth
- Viral infections
- Psychosocial factors, such as trauma
- Certain drugs and medications
How Do Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Co-occur?
People living with mental health issues such as schizophrenia often turn to alcohol and substances as a means of coping with their struggles. This brings a whole host of problems into the mix, which can complicate the symptoms of schizophrenia and possibly increase the chances of worsening the symptoms.
Alcohol is readily available, and this makes it easier for people with schizophrenia to develop alcohol dependencies and addictions to other drugs and substances. Approximately one-third of people with schizophrenia will also at some point in their lives develop an alcohol use disorder. Therefore, the individual will be in need of alcohol addiction treatment in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Many times alcohol abuse precedes the development of schizophrenia, and this hints at the incorrectness of the self-medication theory.
A full 44% of cigarettes and tobacco products sold in the United States are purchased by people suffering from a psychiatric disorder. 70% of schizophrenics have an accompanying nicotine dependence, and this makes it more likely for symptoms-related relapses to occur. Nicotine also increases the likelihood of hallucinations, disorganized speech, and delusions, and this calls for higher dosages of antipsychotic medications.
Marijuana use is known to accelerate the onset of psychotic symptoms in certain groups and potentially worsen its effects. One study showed that 53% of people undergoing their first psychotic episode also qualified for a cannabis use disorder diagnosis.
Schizophrenic patients who also suffer from cocaine use disorder are at very high risk of suicide, hospitalization, and low-treatment compliance. These patients typically come from low-income communities and have suffered trauma earlier in life. We can assist you with our cocaine addiction treatment in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Treating Schizophrenia and Addiction
Due to the frequency of schizophrenia and substance abuse co-occur, it’s important to treat both disorders simultaneously. This is a situation known as a dual diagnosis treatment in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Treating only one condition while ignoring the other increases the chances of a relapse or not adhering to the treatment altogether.
The detox period in Port St. Lucie, Florida, which monitors and manages withdrawal symptoms, is typically the first step of a dual diagnosis treatment and helps give a comprehensive view of what is needed for recovery. Detox also allows medical professionals to rule out the chance that a patient’s psychotic symptoms are being caused by drug or alcohol abuse rather than schizophrenia itself.
After detox and evaluation, interventions in dual diagnosis treatments may involve:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in Port St. Lucie, Florida
- Family involvement in Port St. Lucie, Florida
- Motivational interviewing techniques
- Substance refusal skills training
- Adult daily living skills training
- Medication management
Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition. Professional and effective treatment can help a patient prevent relapses, manage the symptoms, and avoid hospitalization. One person’s treatment will differ from the next, and a medical professional will tailor the recovery plan to suit each individual.
Potential schizophrenia treatment options include:
- Antipsychotic drugs. These drugs can be taken daily orally, or less frequently if they opt for injections, which usually last up to three months, depending on the medication administered.
- Counseling. Mental health counseling in Port St. Lucie, Florida helps people develop healthy coping skills and teaches people how to live fulfilling lives with this condition.
- Coordinated special care. This combines medication, family involvement, and education services in a holistic approach.
A few standard medications for treating schizophrenia include:
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon)
- Clozapine (Clozaril)
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
Many older medications are accompanied by negative side effects, including neurological symptoms. Newer medications generally have different side effects, such as weight gain.
Continuing with your treatment plan is essential, even if the symptoms improve. Prematurely ending medication can make the symptoms return.
Psychotherapy is effective at helping people with schizophrenia cope with the symptoms of hallucinations or delusions. These talk therapies also help treat negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as apathy or a diminishing enjoyment of things you used to find pleasurable.
The three main talking therapies for schizophrenia treatment include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Family therapy
- Arts therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps patients explore the thinking patterns that cause their unwanted feelings and behavior and teaches them to adopt more positive thinking patterns and behaviors.
Family therapy in Port St. Lucie, Florida seeks to support the person with schizophrenia along with the people they live with. Family therapy helps everyone come to terms with schizophrenia and its effects, not just the individual living with the condition. This can help families heal broken bonds and grow stronger as a unit.
Family therapy sessions normally include:
- Discussing information related to schizophrenia.
- Examining methods of supporting somebody with schizophrenia.
- Learning healthy problem-solving methods for situations that may have been caused by the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Arts therapies are holistic approaches known to promote creative expression. Working with an art therapist either individually or in a small group can give you the freedom to express your experiences with schizophrenia.
Arts therapies are known to alleviate the negative symptoms of schizophrenia in certain people.
Amethyst Can Help You Get Your Life Back on Track
Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition that has profound effects on a person’s mental state and ability to function. These effects can spread to the people around them. There are various treatments available that can help a person learn to manage these symptoms and cope with living with schizophrenia.
Amethyst Recovery is a modern treatment facility that specializes in care for addiction and mental health issues. Our unique approach to the treatment process ensures that every patient is fitted with a plan that is exclusively theirs and meets their every need and preference.
Contact us today to inquire about our services and see how we can help you reclaim control over your life. You deserve to live happy, healthy, and free from addictions and mental health issues.