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What’s the Link Between Schizophrenia and Drug Addiction?

Almost 50% of people who have schizophrenia either exhibit drug abuse or alcohol addiction. While there is a clear correlation between drug abuse and schizophrenia, many experts disagree on the actual nature of the connection between the two. However, most researchers agree that the two conditions often show up together and could be the result of several factors, including genetics, environmental conditions, and socioeconomic factors.

Are substances use disorders mental illnesses?

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are considered mental illnesses since they can alter the very structure of your brain and its functions. That’s why addicts seek and crave drugs despite their negative and harmful effects. When drug addiction is paired with other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia the combination is called a co-occurring disorder.

How do substance use disorders affect schizophrenia?

SUDs are common in people with schizophrenia and can further affect the condition in the following ways:

  • Increasing the tendency to violence
  • Making their daily life more difficult
  • The person may stop seeking mental health treatment

What is the connection?

Many theories explain the link between drug addiction and schizophrenia. Following are the two most common explanations.

Overlap in your brain circuits

Schizophrenia and drug abuse both affect some common neural pathways and alter your brain’s makeup. The theory also suggests that the brain’s reward system that’s affected by schizophrenia might also contribute to the increase in substance consumption by the patient. In other words, a schizophrenic person may crave drugs more often than a normal person.

People with bad mental health might use drugs as a medication

Drugs may help people experiencing mental health issues. For example, a drug may provide an escape from long depressive episodes, and as a result, they may start relying on drugs as a form of self-medication. Similarly, people with schizophrenia can rely on drugs to make them feel better and reduce the symptoms of their mental condition. If you or someone around you is struggling with substance abuse, you must encourage them to seek professional medical assistance for a healthy recovery. MD M.A.T.T is a drug treatment center in Maryland that offers suboxone detoxification and deals with heroin addiction, and offers addiction rehab. Contact us to learn more about our Medicaid suboxone doctors.