Schizophrenia as a Substance-Related and Addictive Disorder Research

The use of drugs has been identified as one leading cause of schizophrenia. In fact, research has established that more than half of American schizophrenics have a history of drug abuse. Schizophrenia affects slightly more than 1% of the American population (Benaiges et al., 2013). Schizophrenia is a chronic and often severe mental disorder that makes an individual to think, feel and behave in an abnormal way. For example, a person may see things that are not there or imagine being in danger yet they are not. The disorder makes the day-to-day life of an individual difficult and often unbearable as they have to cope with frequent hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders and movement disorders among other challenges (Asher & Gask, 2010). The individuals living with schizophrenia do not show the right emotions at different situations have reduced feelings of pleasure and limit their interacting with those around them. The use of drugs is the leading risk factor that makes an individual easy to get schizophrenia. There are no specific treatments for schizophrenia, but the available treatments are helpful in eliminating the symptoms. The treatments may include the use of antipsychotics and psychosocial therapies to help an individual avoid the risk factors and stay away from schizophrenia (Costache & Cioara, 2016). The medics often advise on the need for individuals using drugs to receive ample help from close family members and friends on how they can stop or avoid using drugs. The members can talk to the individuals, bring counselors to help them change their behaviors, support the individuals take relevant treatments and see that the people with schizophrenia get good treatment within and outside their homes. The available studies on schizophrenia show that individuals using drugs can heal from the disorder if they stop using drugs on time. Therefore, the society is encouraging people to help individuals who abuse drugs to embrace positive behavior. Medics and psychologists view the move as the only effective way to reduce the burden of schizophrenia (Covin, 2012). The people are being encouraged to be positive when handling people with schizophrenia to ensure that they also feel loved and appreciated. When this happens, it becomes possible for the victims to take any help they are offered positively to increase the chances of regaining their normal health.

Drug abuse has been identified as one leading cause of schizophrenia. According to medical experts, drug abuse affects how people perceive their reality and exposes them to more dangers. The repeated misuse of drugs ends up making an individual to lose touch with their realities and do things that are considered abnormal. Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that often makes individuals think, act, and express emotions, and relate to others abnormally. For example, a person with schizophrenia may not give a proper assessment of any dangerous situation and are thus easy to get into trouble or danger. There are many people living with schizophrenia around the globe with more than 2.2 million Americans suffering from schizophrenia today. Various studies have pointed out that more than half of people with schizophrenia in the American have had a history of drug abuse. Therefore, the studies show that schizophrenia is a substance-related and addictive disorder. Nonetheless, the society needs to help young people to avoid misusing drugs because it will possibly reduce the chances of them contracting schizophrenia in future.

Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder because its symptoms may take long before they are detected. The symptoms often emerge when an individual is between sixty and thirty years. The symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and instability of thoughts. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment of schizophrenia. It challenges some strategies adopted to help people living with it. Nonetheless, the society is encouraged to adopt preventive approaches. For instance, people with drug abuse history should be counseled and helped to avoid using them. Sometimes, the use of antipsychotics may not be an effective way to treat people with schizophrenia because it is costly and is associated with other side effects. The discussion below focuses on schizophrenia as a substance abuse related disorder and how an individual with schizophrenia can be helped.

Why Schizophrenia?
Paul Eugen Bleuter coined ‘Schizophrenia’ from two Greek words ‘schizo’ and ‘phren’ to come up with the word. ‘Schizo’ means ‘split’ whereas ‘phren’ means ‘mind’ (Costache & Cioara, 2016). Therefore, the term ‘schizophrenia’ may refer to a condition that causes an individual to have improper thoughts, emotions, or actions because of poor reasoning. Although some people may take schizophrenia to be the same as ‘multiple personality disorder,’ studies have shown that the two conditions are unique. Schizophrenia describes any mental disorder that makes an individual have distorted a way of thinking, acting, expressing themselves, relating to others, and seeing their realities. The condition should be strictly defined and diagnosed because some of its symptoms may match those of ‘multiple personality disorder.’

Diagnosing Schizophrenia
The diagnosis of schizophrenia requires the keen examination and observation of an individual. First, criterion A requires that an individual is considered to be having schizophrenia if they show symptoms such as delusion, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behavior and negative symptoms such as alogia and avolition persist for a significant portion of time in a month. The symptoms should be checked only if the individual experiences extreme delusions or hallucinations.

Criterion B demands that an individual is considered to have schizophrenia if they show a persistent negative behavior. The ill behaviors may include a breakdown in interpersonal relations, failure to focus at work, or lack consciousness about their safety. The changes are thus observed and measured about the time before the onset of the condition. The behavioral changes should be monitored for a significant time before the individual is considered as having schizophrenia. The time effect is very important because hasty conclusions may be inappropriate and misleading.

Criterion C gives the minimum period of six months or more to be considered before any conclusions are made on whether an individual has schizophrenia or not. The period includes at least one month during which the symptoms of the condition were first seen including the residual symptoms. The period of residual symptoms may only have recorded negative symptoms only thus the need to consider. Moreover, the individual may experience hallucinations and delusions during this time.

The criterion D often rules out the inclusion of schizoaffective disorder and mood disorder with psychotic features because they do not co-occur with active-phase symptoms. As a result, the focus of any diagnosis process should not include them in judging whether an individual has schizophrenia. They should also be excluded because symptoms for mood disorders may be short-lived during the active phase. They do not take a long time and are not worth to be considered in making the final judgment. Criterion E calls for a clear identification and explanation of the causes of the change in behavior (Bahorik et al., 2017). The individual should not be under the influence of medications that cause them to show to act abnormally. Lastly, Criterion F seeks to ensure that an individual being observed should not have a history of other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. The observation should proceed by excluding all possible causes of behavior change to allow the person observing to make a valid judgment in the diagnosis process.

The history of the word schizophrenia is less than 100 years although Dr. Emile Kraepelin first identified it as a discrete disease in 1887. Nevertheless, some written documents have been found and identify the disease to the old Pharaonic Egypt period. The texts differentiate dementia and depression from schizophrenia. The analysis of literature from ancient Greek and the Roman period shows that people knew nothing about this disorder because not disease characterized the way schizophrenic symptoms are seen today. In fact, some earlier societies considered anyone is having symptoms such as those of schizophrenia as being possessed by evil spirits. However, the works of Dr. Emile Kraepelin in 1887 were helpful in identifying schizophrenia as a distinct condition with its unique symptoms. Dr. Kraepelin used the term ‘dementia praecox’ to refer to the persons who had symptoms of schizophrenia. However, Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler coined it in 1911. He was also able to identify the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ symptoms of the disorder.

Causes of Schizophrenia
The occurrence of schizophrenia is associated with various factors. First, a person’s genetic makeup can be a predisposing factor in the occurrence of the disorder. Therefore, there are families that can easily get schizophrenia and others whose members cannot. However, schizophrenic cases associated with previous family history are few (Benaiges et al., 2013). The second cause relates to an individual’s exposure to inflammation or autoimmune diseases. The diseases lead to increased immune system activation thus triggering schizophrenia. It is also associated with old age. Acute depressions may cause schizophrenia. When an individual is stressed, many factors may aggravate it resulting in depression, which may become schizophrenia if left untreated.

Harmful drugs that change the functioning of the brain such as depressants and stimulants may cause depression. The drugs make an individual highly dependent on them and thus making it hard for them to avoid schizophrenia. There is an increasing concern on the number of people getting schizophrenia because of substance abuse. The outcome of any irresponsible use of drugs is often catastrophic because close to half of all schizophrenic cases are related to drug abuse. In most cases, drug abuse may not have instant impacts on an individual’s mental health development. In fact, the symptoms of schizophrenia often show up when individuals are in their twenties. Therefore, the individuals who use drugs from an early age may not receive instant help as the mental retardation gradually happens.

Types of schizophrenia
The 5th DSM-V does not recognize different types of schizophrenia. The manual only classifies all forms of schizophrenia under the term ‘schizophrenia.’ However, the previously identified types of schizophrenia still exist in some texts and medics. Therefore, it is important to focus and discuss each of the types identified before the fifth edition of the DSM-V such as the paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, childhood, and schizoaffective schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia makes an individual feel that their lives are in danger because everything around them is considered as dangerous. The disorganized schizophrenia makes an individual always portray disorganized behavior and speech. The individual often does not have balanced emotions.

Therefore, the type of schizophrenia is named depending on the key symptoms that someone displays. In catatonic schizophrenia, an individual does things, which is unexpected of them. For instance, an individual can mimic sounds or actions in a peculiar way. Their actions are considered abnormal because they often do so without considering what other people will feel about them or how they hurt others in doing so (Bahorik et al., 2017). Schizoaffective disorder is a type of schizophrenia whose symptoms can be linked to schizophrenia and mood disorders. Childhood schizophrenia starts when an individual is below 13 years and is considered as one of the severest forms of schizophrenia it can develop at an early age and retards one’s mental development.

The various types of schizophrenia cannot be distinguished because of their limited prognostic stability. The symptoms that distinguished each of them were unclear (Asher & Gask, 2010). Secondly, the different types did not produce effective ways through which schizophrenia could be studied and treated. They had low reliability and poor validities and thus the need to study them as just schizophrenia (Covin, 2012). The move to put them under one term has made it possible for studies on schizophrenia to have higher reliabilities and validities. Therefore, the changes introduced have made the steps to tackle and understand schizophrenia better.

Preventing Schizophrenia
DSM-V identifies some ways through which individuals can avoid getting schizophrenia. First, it is important for an individual to avoid using drugs that are not prescribed by medical experts. Through this, they reduce their chances of using drugs that may affect their mental development. Moreover, individuals are discouraged from using harmful drugs such as alcohol and other hard drugs. The misuse of drugs has a gross effect on an individual’s mental development and their perception of reality. As a result, people should appreciate the need to avoid substance abuse.

Secondly, individuals should not ignore any unusual feeling or perception of realities around them for granted. They are expected to always seek help from experts or people around them. They should seek counseling and advice from the people to ensure that they regain their normal health status. Moreover, they should be able to practice proper social behavior and be in a position to interact well with people around them. Therefore, growing and developing one’s social skills is one way an individual can avoid being aloof and decrease their chances of getting schizophrenic. Thirdly, older persons should be cared for appropriately including being comforted and taken for medical checks on a regular basis. In the end, it becomes possible for the older persons likely to develop schizophrenia assisted. In fact, studies have shown that more than half of schizophrenia cases among the old can be prevented if they are treated well and helped to find medical help.

Treating Schizophrenia
The treatments of schizophrenia are often effective if the causes of schizophrenia affecting different individuals are established. For instance, individuals whose conditions are linked to consistent misuse of drugs can be counseled and helped to avoid using the drugs (Asher & Gask, 2010). There is no known cure for schizophrenia, but psychiatric therapies are helpful in alleviating the symptoms of the disorder. Normally, people with schizophrenia are subjected to an introspective exercise and findings from the exercises used to offer them psychosocial help. The outcomes of such exercises have shown a significant boost in the move to help people living with schizophrenia.

Antipsychotic drugs are also helpful in lessening the manifestation of the symptoms. The individuals with schizophrenia are given the drugs dopamine and serotonin where they take them regularly (Benaiges et al., 2013). These drugs help individuals manage the effects of the disorder. However, they have not effectively helped individuals to heal from the condition. Therefore, psychosocial help to people with schizophrenia remains to be the most effective way to help them heal.

Schizophrenia is directly linked to substance abuse and addiction. Normally, the drugs end up affecting brain development negatively and the way an individual behaves, sees reality, does things, and displays their emotions. The study has shown that people who quit misusing drugs end up recovering from schizophrenia. Therefore, schizophrenia can be avoided through the proper use of drugs and relating well with people. Moreover, parents play a big role in ensuring that children learn to relate well with family members and people around them. They should also monitor and advise children on the dangers of substance abuse.
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Asher, C.J. & Gask, L. (2010). Reasons for illicit drug use in people with schizophrenia: a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 10(1), 94-108.
Bahorik, A.l., Greeno, C.G., Cochran, G., Cornelius, J.R. & Eack, S.M. (2017). Motivation deficits and use of alcohol and illicit drugs among individuals with schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 253(1), 391-397.
Benaiges, I., Serra-Grabulosa, J.M., Prat, G. & Adan, A. (2013). Executive functioning in individuals with schizophrenia and/or cocaine dependence. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 28(1), 29-39.
Costache, O. & Cioara, F.L. (2016). The impact of drug use on autolytic behavior in schizophrenia. Acta Medica Transilbanica, 21(3), 31-34.
Covin, A. (2012). The changing faces of schizophrenia. New Scientist, 215(2890), 30-31.