Co-occurring disorders, such as addiction and mental health disorders, are often treated simultaneously at numerous treatment facilities across the United States. Common mental health disorders treated at these facilities include depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more. Understanding how addiction and co-occurring disorders affect each other can give individuals a better idea of what they are going through and what treatment will look like. Here is the connection between schizophrenia and addiction.

Individuals with schizophrenia, for example, can have their disease triggered by substance abuse. By understanding the impact of substance abuse on schizophrenia, individuals who are struggling can identify specific actions to avoid in their own lives and get the help they need for recovery.

If you or a loved one needs assistance in managing Schizophrenia and Addiction, contact the Alta Loma team today: 866-457-3843.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that causes people to have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality. The disorder affects how the person behaves, feels, and thinks. Schizophrenia is commonly diagnosed after an episode of psychosis. Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, reduced pleasure in life, problems making decisions, and problems focusing. It can be treated using various medications and therapies.

Co-Occurring Disorders

A large majority of individuals that develop substance use disorders (SUD) also have mental health disorders. The two often impact one another, and symptoms worsen over time as the person tries to cope using drugs or alcohol.

Individuals with schizophrenia have higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use disorders than the general population. Typically, this stems from self-medication as a means to cope with symptoms related to schizophrenia. However, the impact of self-medication can lead to devastating consequences.

Connection to Addiction

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), nearly 50% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia also have a history of substance abuse. Studies have shown that many individuals struggling with schizophrenia often use alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, and cocaine to help cope with symptoms. Addiction can form over time as the person continues self-medicating with these substances

Those that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and abuse drugs and alcohol have been found to have a higher risk of cognitive impairment, experience more severe cases of psychosis, and have more emergency room visits. 

Impact of Co-Occurring Disorders

While it is known that any substance use disorder can negatively impact symptoms of schizophrenia, there are specific substances that can exacerbate symptoms and increase their severity. For example, cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamines all can worsen symptoms by increasing their intensity.

Hallucinations and delusions may become more severe and real to the person, impacting their daily life. It should also be noted that schizophrenia is often misdiagnosed as substance abuse due to similar occurring symptoms, delaying a person’s access to proper treatment. However, there is hope for healing and lifelong sobriety.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Struggling with co-occurring disorders can be challenging, but there is hope for treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has laid out specific guidelines to facilitate successful rehabilitation in individuals with comorbid schizophrenia and SUD. Programs around the country are available to help individuals get back on their feet and lead happy, healthy, productive lives. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and reclaim your life today.

Treating schizophrenia and addiction is often done simultaneously to give the person the best chance at healing without recurring symptoms. Over time, the person will learn how to cope with symptoms, cravings, and negative emotions to maintain sobriety. Treatment can take many forms, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medication management
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Life skills training
  • Substance refusal skills training
  • Family education and involvement

At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues.

No treatment is one-size-fits-all, at Alta Loma, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.


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Healing on Your Terms

You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.