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Schizoaffective Disorder and Substance Use

People who abuse drugs and alcohol have their reasons, but self-medication is among the top reasons why. Those who use substances in this manner say they do so to temporarily relieve symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and paranoia. In many cases, it leads individuals to believe they’re helping their illnesses. Unfortunately, substance abuse often worsens the symptoms of their disorders.

Although it may provide relief in the beginning, substance abuse will eventually increase adverse symptoms of mental illness, and it could reduce the efficacy of treatment. Individuals struggling with schizoaffective disorder are often sensitive to the effects of drugs and alcohol, which worsens their symptoms. 

Effects of Drinking Alcohol and Schizoaffective Disorder

Alcohol is a depressant that may provide some initial relief from the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, but alcohol addiction may cause reactions with antidepressant and antipsychotic medications. In some cases, adverse reactions are fatal. Those struggling with schizoaffective disorder may cause harmful effects for themselves by causing an increase in their symptoms due to alcohol abuse. Alcohol, despite its legality, is potent enough to cause severe depressive symptoms.

Effects of Marijuana Use and Schizoaffective Disorder

Over the years, marijuana has become more socially accepted throughout the world.  While some consider it harmless, it can have devastating psychological effects on those struggling with fragile mental health. Marijuana has been associated with an earlier onset of schizoaffective disorder symptoms

The drug produces mild psychedelic effects, which may worsen psychosis that is already present due to the condition. Marijuana, like other drugs, may reduce the efficacy of medicine used to manage schizoaffective disorder.

Effects of Stimulant Use and Schizoaffective Disorder

As mentioned above, schizoaffective disorder and substance use can lead to undesirable outcomes. Those who use stimulants for relief are likely to worsen their symptoms. Stimulants typically produce psychotic symptoms in high doses, and someone dealing with the onset of symptoms from schizoaffective disorder may cause feelings of depersonalization. It’s crucial to speak with a doctor and find a treatment tailored to your pressing needs.

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Drug and Alcohol Abuse Statistics With Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder affects a small portion of the population, and as a result, there is very little research on the topic. A study published in Schizophrenia Research estimates that nearly 75 to 90 percent of those living with schizoaffective disorder smoke tobacco. 

Those who casually engage in recreational drug or alcohol use have a higher likelihood of developing an addiction. Those who use drugs or alcohol at a younger age are also at increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder at a later age. Moreover, schizoaffective disorder and substance use is a dangerous combination. 

Do I Have Schizoaffective Disorder? | Signs & Symptoms 

Schizoaffective disorder and substance use will likely lead to devastating results, but if you think you are struggling with the condition, you must speak to a doctor who specializes in mental health. While we can offer you some of the signs and symptoms to look out for, you must always rely on a psychologist to determine that what you’re experiencing is not something else.

The most common signs of schizoaffective disorder include:

  • Bizarre or unusual behavior
  • Delusions: False or fixed beliefs despite evidence otherwise
  • Hallucinations: Seeing things that aren’t there or hearing voices
  • Periods of manic mood (an increase in energy and/or a decreased need for sleep over several days)
  • Impaired social, occupational, or academic functioning
  • Deteriorating appearance, caused by a lack of cleanliness or personal grooming
  • Incoherence

The symptoms listed above could indicate other conditions, so speak to a medical professional to determine if you’re struggling with schizoaffective disorder or a similar condition.

Sources

Schizoaffective disorder. (2019, November 09). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizoaffective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354504

Margolese, H., Malchy, L., Negrete, J., Tempier, R., & Gill, K. (2003, March 19). Drug and alcohol use among patients with schizophrenia and related psychoses: Levels and consequences. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0920996402005236

Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Sevy, S., Robinson, D., Napolitano, B., Patel, R., Gunduz-Bruce, H., Miller, R., . . . Kane, J. (2010, July). Are cannabis use disorders associated with an earlier age at onset of psychosis? A study in first episode schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900481/

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