Can Alcohol Addiction Induce Schizophrenia?
Last Updated: February 15, 2023
Medical science has shown a definitive link between schizophrenia and alcohol use. Alcohol worsens symptoms of schizophrenia and can cause symptoms that mimic schizophrenia. However, while alcohol and schizophrenia can be linked, alcohol is not thought to cause schizophrenia. Underlying schizophrenia that was not previously noticeable may be made more obvious when alcohol is used. The psychosis that alcohol can cause may worsen symptoms of schizophrenia, but there is no evidence that shows that alcohol causes schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a psychological condition that can cause several symptoms, including visual and auditory hallucinations, mood changes, cognitive deficits and decreased emotions. The most striking symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations and other types of psychosis that schizophrenia can create. These symptoms of schizophrenia are most commonly worsened by alcohol use.
Link Between Alcohol and Schizophrenia
Many people wonder, “Can alcohol abuse cause schizophrenia?” Alcohol-induced schizophrenia has not been proven to exist. However, in some cases, it can appear that alcohol causes schizophrenia. There are several reasons for this.
One of the main reasons for the link between alcohol use and schizophrenia is that schizophrenia can lead to an increased amount of alcohol use. Someone who has schizophrenia is almost three and a half times more likely to misuse alcohol and may be even more likely to misuse other substances. Alcohol also worsens the symptoms of schizophrenia, particularly psychosis.
Someone who has mild schizophrenia or has schizophrenia that does not really affect them may develop more severe hallucinations or paranoia beyond what they normally experience. While this is only a worsening of the existing schizophrenia, it may appear that alcohol use created schizophrenia, particularly in cases where schizophrenia had not yet been diagnosed. Another potential reason for this link is that people who have schizophrenia, especially untreated schizophrenia, may try to self-treat their symptoms with alcohol or other substances.
Effects of Drinking Alcohol for a Person With Schizophrenia
When someone with schizophrenia uses alcohol, it can have both short and long-term effects. In the short-term, alcohol use will often cause psychosis in someone who has schizophrenia; this can include auditory or visual hallucinations, paranoia, increased risk of injury and, in rare cases, violent behavior. Over the long term, when someone with schizophrenia misuses alcohol, it can cause a relapse or worsening of their symptoms. Schizophrenia often requires medications to treat symptoms, and it can be difficult to manage the symptoms that this disorder causes. Using alcohol can completely disrupt treatment and make it difficult to regain control of the symptoms.
Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders
It is estimated that about one-third of people with schizophrenia will develop or have an alcohol use disorder. Having a mental health condition such as schizophrenia and a substance use disorder simultaneously is referred to as a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders treatment is complex and involves careful and knowledgeable treatment of both the alcohol use disorder and schizophrenia at the same time. Many people with co-occurring disorders do not receive the treatments that they need.
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Detoxing from alcohol is an important part of the treatment of co-occurring disorders and may be the most difficult part of treatment. Someone who also has schizophrenia should have medical supervision while detoxing from alcohol, as the detox process can greatly affect schizophrenia symptoms and lead to a significant worsening of schizophrenia. A detox center that is also equipped to treat mental health conditions, such as the Recovery Village Columbus in Ohio, will be needed to help prevent or lessen the risk involved with alcohol detox.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis rehab takes place in a center that helps treat alcohol cravings, develop coping strategies and prevents relapse, but also requires trained professionals who can simultaneously treat schizophrenia. The professionals at dual diagnosis treatment centers have the experience and training necessary to tell the subtle differences between alcohol use disorder symptoms and schizophrenia symptoms and have the knowledge to determine the correct treatments and therapies.
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- Drake, Robert E; Mueser, Kim T. “Co-Occurring Alcohol Use Disorder and Schizophrenia.” Alcohol Research & Health. 2002. Accessed Aug. 28, 2019.
- Newman, Tim. “Schizophrenia Risk Increased with Alcohol, Drug Abuse.” Medical News Today. Oct. 21, 2016. Accessed Aug. 31, 2019.
- Archibald L, Brunette MF, Wallin DJ, Green AI. “Alcohol Use Disorder and Schizophrenia o[…]oaffective Disorder.” Alcohol Res. 2019. Accessed April 12, 2021.
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