Schizophrenia and Cocaine Use

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that impairs the ability to distinguish what is real from what is not real. Schizophrenics suffer from hallucinations and delusions that result in behavior such as paranoia, isolation and unclear communication. The antipsychotic drugs used to treat the disorder are often effective but have harsh side effects. This leads some individuals with schizophrenia to turn to alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine for relief from certain aspects of psychosis as well as from the side effects of prescribed antipsychotics.

What Is the Relationship between Schizophrenia and Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug with psychotic side effects similar enough to those of schizophrenia that some mistake schizophrenia for drug abuse. While there is little research to support the idea that cocaine abuse on its own causes schizophrenia, those who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia may find that cocaine abuse causes the disorder to manifest. For those already diagnosed with schizophrenia cocaine abuse heightens the psychotic symptoms.

Antipsychotic medications help eliminate delusions, hallucinations and other symptoms of schizophrenia. They are the most effective treatment for the disorder, but their side effects often make people less inclined to seek out treatment or to use the drugs regularly and as prescribed. Common side effects of antipsychotics may include the following:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Slowed movements
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness and sedation

While the side effects are unpleasant and often difficult to cope with, there are healthy ways to manage them without resorting to cocaine abuse. Because the side effects of cocaine are similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia, cocaine abuse reduces the effectiveness of treatment and increases the chances that symptoms will return.

Treating Schizophrenia and Cocaine Addiction

Those who suffer from schizophrenia should not turn to cocaine or other substance abuse for relief. Cocaine alone is dangerous, and the combination of cocaine and antipsychotic drugs can produce even more serious side effects. Antipsychotics and psychosocial therapy are the most effective treatment for schizophrenia.

When someone is suffering from both schizophrenia and cocaine addiction, he or she is experiencing co-occurring disorders. Dealing with schizophrenia is a challenge, and a substance abuse problem only makes it more difficult for the patient to find a stable and manageable life. Treatment for this co-occurring disorder may involve comprehensive inpatient treatment.

Help for Schizophrenia and Cocaine Addiction

If you are suffering from schizophrenia and cocaine abuse or addiction, you need professional integrated treatment. Call our toll-free helpline to receive more information about treatment and getting the help you need. We are available 24 hours a day to guide you in overcoming your struggle. Please call us today.

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