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Schizophrenia and Drug Use

Many individuals that suffer from mental health disorders also struggle with substance use. Schizophrenia is one example of a mental health disorder that often co-occurs with substance use. Because chronic drug use often turns into drug addiction, individuals that struggle with schizophrenia and drug use often develop the dual diagnosis disorder of schizophrenia and addiction to substances. Individuals that simultaneously suffer from schizophrenia and addiction, need to attend dual diagnosis treatment to overcome both conditions.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that’s characterized by irrational and delusional thinking. This makes it difficult to distinguish between reality and non-reality. This is partly due to the fact that individuals with schizophrenia may hear voices and see things that don’t exist.

Because people with schizophrenia struggle to make a distinction between reality and non-reality, they are often ostracized from society. Such ostracization often causes individuals with schizophrenia to use substances to cope.

Schizophrenia and drug use often turn into schizophrenia and addiction. To effectively treat schizophrenia and a co-occurring substance use disorder, one must attend dual diagnosis treatment.

Causes of Schizophrenia

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and AddictionAlthough the exact cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, there are many risk factors that can contribute to the development of the mental illness. Some of these risk factors are described below.


People’s genetic makeup is often part of the reason why they develop mental health disorders. Thus, if schizophrenia runs in a person’s family, he or she has a stronger chance of later developing the disorder than most.

Structural or Chemical Changes in the Brain

Oftentimes, structural and chemical changes in the brain can cause people to exhibit schizophrenic behaviors. This is because such structural and chemical changes affect the way the brain functions and, in turn, how the brain balances a person’s emotions. Structural and chemical changes in the brain can also affect how people may perceive the world around them, which too can cause schizophrenia.

Pregnancy or Birth Complications

When women experience pregnancy or birth complications, the likelihood of their newborn children containing schizophrenia greatly increases. Women that suffer from schizophrenia are also more likely to have issues when giving birth.

Childhood Trauma

Many people that experience trauma early on in their lives repress it. Not properly dealing with childhood trauma though can lead to changes in the brain that cause people to develop mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Previous Drug Use

Chronic drug use often causes structural and chemical changes in the brain. Structural and chemical changes in the brain can lead to the development of schizophrenic behaviors. Thus, it makes sense that previous drug use is also a risk factor for addiction. The fact that previous drug use is a common cause of schizophrenia also shows why schizophrenia and addiction commonly co-occur.

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

schizophrenia and addictionThere are numerous signs and symptoms of schizophrenia. Many of these signs and symptoms are hard to detect. Therefore, it’s important to have knowledge about what these signs and symptoms are. Some of the common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are described below.

Being Flustered

Many people that suffer from schizophrenia often become overly flustered and confused. This is partly due to the fact that they have a warped perception of reality.


Anxiety is another common sign and symptom of schizophrenia. Many people with schizophrenia are anxious because their skewed view of the world causes trust issues. The fact that people with schizophrenia often hear voices and experience hallucinations only adds to the anxiety that they feel each and every day.


Many people with schizophrenia are anxious about the whereabouts and intentions of others to the point of it becoming paranoia. This heightened level of paranoia also often causes people with schizophrenia to think that innocent people are betraying them or out to get them.

Inability to Remain Focused

Because so much is going through the minds of people with schizophrenia, many schizophrenics struggle to remain focused. This only adds to the reason why many people find individuals with schizophrenia difficult to communicate with.

Poor Eye Contact

Part of not being focused is not maintaining proper eye contact. Thus, it’s no surprise that people with schizophrenia also struggle to maintain eye contact.

Lack of Facial Expressions

When schizophrenia becomes severe, it causes people to be so disconnected from the real world that they lose the ability to make facial expressions. This makes it even harder for schizophrenics to make authentic connections with others. That’s part of the reason why people with schizophrenia are often ostracized from society.

Loss of Interest in Activities That You Once Enjoyed

Schizophrenics often become so obsessed with the world that they’ve created in their minds that they lose touch with all activities that they used to enjoy prior to developing their mental illness. Not taking part in normal recreational activities causes people with schizophrenia further ostracization.

Poor Personal Hygiene

Schizophrenics also become so into their hallucinations and the world that they’ve created for themselves that they stop taking the time to take care of themselves. As a result, many people with schizophrenia struggle with poor personal hygiene.

Emotionally and Socially Withdrawn

The longer that people suffer from schizophrenia, the deeper into their own worlds that they become. Once individuals with schizophrenia get far deep into their own worlds, they become emotionally and socially withdrawn from others. It also doesn’t help that society often ostracizes individuals with schizophrenia from society.

Disorganized Thinking and Speaking

A common symptom of schizophrenia is stringing words together in a random way when speaking and thinking. Such disorganized thinking and speaking cause people with schizophrenia to struggle to communicate with others.

Disorganized or Abnormal Motor Behavior

Another common symptom of schizophrenia is excessive fidgeting and movement of the body along with exhibiting odd and inappropriate posture. Such disorganized and abnormal motor behavior often causes other people to not want to engage with people with schizophrenia.


People with hallucinations see and hear things that don’t exist. Hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia.

It’s more common for people with schizophrenia to hear things that don’t exist than it is to see things that don’t exist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help individuals with schizophrenia and addiction manage the voices in their heads so that they can function in society.


Delusions are false beliefs that aren’t placed in reality. Being delusional is a common symptom of schizophrenia. For example, people with schizophrenia may falsely believe that they have past personal relationships with strangers.

People with schizophrenia may also contain the false belief that an innocent and random person is stalking them or is out to get them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people with schizophrenia develop tools and methods by which they can test themselves and determine if a belief is delusional or not.

Schizophrenia and Drug Use

Treatment for Schizophrenia and AddictionWith all of the different signs and symptoms of schizophrenia and the ostracization from society that the mental illness causes, it’s no wonder that schizophrenia and drug use often co-occur. In fact, people with schizophrenia are four times more likely to develop a substance use disorder than people that aren’t schizophrenic. As a result, 50% of schizophrenics struggle with substance use.

If a person with schizophrenia uses substances, it’s only a matter of time before he or she develops a full-fledged substance addiction. Schizophrenia and addiction is a dangerous combination for many reasons.

For one, people that suffer from schizophrenia and addiction are more likely to stop taking their schizophrenia medications. People that suffer from schizophrenia and addiction are also less likely to seek out any form of schizophrenia or addiction treatment.

Thus, substance addiction and schizophrenia only worsen one another when they co-occur. In fact, the physical and mental health of people that suffer from both schizophrenia and addiction often become so bad that the people end up committing suicide.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction

While suffering from schizophrenia and addiction is difficult, there is hope. Individuals with schizophrenia and addiction that receive dual diagnosis treatment can repair their lives. They deserve to be at the point at which they can function happily in society again.

Dual diagnosis treatment for schizophrenia and addiction uses different forms of therapy to help treat both disorders simultaneously. One form of therapy that people often receive during dual diagnosis treatment for schizophrenia and addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This is because CBT helps people with schizophrenia change their unrealistic thoughts and beliefs into realistic ones. CBT also helps people with substance use disorders manage their addiction triggers by changing their negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors into positive ones.

Receive Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction At Phoenix Rising Recovery

Here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we understand that substance addiction often co-occurs with mental illness. That’s why we offer specialized dual diagnosis treatment programs. Therefore, individuals that are struggling with schizophrenia and drug use can receive the help that they need at our rehab facility.

Some of the other dual diagnosis treatment programs that we offer here at Phoenix Rising include ones for anxiety and addiction, depression and addictionbipolar disorder and addictionADHD and addictioneating disorders and addiction, and borderline personality disorder and addiction.

To learn about any other dual diagnosis or addiction treatment programs that we offer here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, contact us anytime. Our staff is more than willing to answer any questions.