Alcoholism And Schizophrenia – A Co-Occurring Disorder

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental condition that often leads people down a dangerous and self-destructive path. One of these paths is alcoholism. If you suffer from these two conditions, you have what is known as a co-occurring disorder. Understanding this problem and how it affects your life can help you regain the sobriety that you deserve.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are two or more mental health problems that occur simultaneously and influence the progression of the other. Although this can occur with several types of disorders, it is most commonly discussed as an addiction concern because addiction is so often exasperated or even caused by other mental health concerns.

The presence of mental health concerns (like schizophrenia) complicates treatment for alcoholism because it forces experts to treat two different diseases. You simply can’t detoxify and receive anti-drug counseling; you also need to get treatment and medicines to treat your schizophrenia.

Perhaps that’s why studies have confirmed that alcohol addiction is a rampant disease among people with schizophrenia. One study, entitled “Self Reports Of The Interaction Between Substance Abuse and Schizophrenia” found that 40 percent of the surveyed people with schizophrenia suffered from an alcohol addiction. Another study, titled “Substance Abuse In Patients With Schizophrenia” found numbers as high as 50 percent.

How These Two Problems Exasperate Each Other

Schizophrenia is an unpredictable condition that usually manifests itself between the ages of 18-30. There are often few warning signs: a person can suddenly “crack” and become fully schizophrenic in a matter of days. The random nature of this disease means a person may either not realize they have a problem or try to hide it anyway they can.

The problems caused by schizophrenia (delusions, agitation, paranoia, incoherence, and a sense of “disconnect” from reality) often cause a sense of panic or fear. Those negative feelings commonly force a person to turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication. While alcohol may help distract a person from their problems, it will only make them work.

Just think about what happens when you start feeling drunk. You start losing control of your mental and physical behaviors. And that loss of control will heavily influence the lack of control caused by schizophrenia. In fact, the two disorders often go hand-in-hand.

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Can They Be Treated Alone?

The severity of the interaction between alcoholism and schizophrenia means that you shouldn’t consider trying to figure it out on your own. Instead, you should seek out a center that utilizes Dual Diagnosis. This treatment focuses on diagnosing both of these unfortunate diseases and treating them simultaneously, instead of treating them in isolation.

The principles of Dual Diagnosis are simple: all patients are welcomed into treatment; both disorders are given the same attention; understanding both concerns are chronic concerns that need lifelong treatment; finding a treatment for schizophrenia that helps reduce alcohol addiction and vice versa; and treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Dual Diagnosis is available in many different formats, including residential treatment, outpatient, individual therapy, peer support group, anti-drug education, holistic therapy, aftercare therapy, and medication therapy. The latter utilizes drugs that help soothe schizophrenia symptoms, including:

  • Fluphenazine
  • Perphenazine
  • Aripiprazole
  • Asenapine
  • Palperidone

It’s important to discuss these medications with your rehabilitation expert before moving on to detoxification. Often, you’ll be subscribed anti-alcohol medications that help you fight cravings and avoid serious withdrawal symptoms. A few of these medications include:

  • Antabuse
  • Naltrexone
  • Campral
  • Topamax

Beyond these medications, you are also likely to learn behavioral modification techniques under the umbrella of cognitive-behavioral therapy. These treatments are designed to help you identify problematic behaviors and to eliminate their influences in your addiction and schizophrenic conditions. Understanding the ways that these two problems influence your behavior helps you learn how to control them and stay stable and sober.

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If you are suffering from this co-occurring disorder and need help, please don't hesitate to contact us.If you are suffering from this co-occurring disorder and need help, please don’t hesitate to contact us at We can help you find an alcohol addiction treatment center that understands Dual Diagnosis and schizophrenia. This can help you recover from this difficult situation and help you regain stability in your life.

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