Schizophrenia & Heroin Abuse | Symptoms & Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that causes the person to have difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly. A person is usually diagnosed with schizophrenia earlier than age 40.
Many times, mental illness can accompany a substance use disorder. For instance, those participating in heroin use may develop increasing psychotic experiences or episodes. Those with schizophrenia may use heroin or other drugs as a form of self-medication.
Drug abuse, especially in the form of an opioid such as heroin, may lead to psychosis and a possible dual diagnosis, but it’s difficult to determine a true cause. What’s undeniable, however, is that the prevalence of drug abuse among those with mental disorders is high.
The Link Between Schizophrenia & Heroin
Chronic substance abuse can lead to mental health concerns. Schizophrenia is one of the mental disorders that can arise after years of drug use.
In fact, those with an opioid use disorder show high rates of psychosis and comorbidities such as depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety. Those taking mind-altering drugs in their teenage years may be more likely to develop mental health problems over time.
Smoking marijuana, or cannabis, can cause an increased risk of psychotic experiences. The same is true for chronic heroin use. These changes in brain function may lead to psychotic symptoms, but a diagnosis of schizophrenia as a direct result of heroin use is unlikely.
Schizophrenia affects how one feels, thinks, and behaves. This serious mental illness is difficult to diagnose and can sometimes be misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder or a personality disorder due to the similarities in symptoms. Sometimes co-occurring disorders may be present.
Schizophrenia is treatable if caught early, usually in one’s teenage years. Unfortunately, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be severe and affect many aspects of one’s life.
Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
To understand the severity of the symptoms of schizophrenia, it’s important to understand that they can be divided into three main categories: negative symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and psychotic symptoms.
Some of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- avoiding social interactions
- low energy
- difficulty enjoying life
- showing limited emotion
- difficulty following through with plans
Cognitive symptoms one might experience include:
- trouble concentrating
- inability to process information quickly
- unable to make fast decisions
- trouble functioning from day to day
The psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia may cause the following:
- loss of impulse control
- hearing voices
- unorganized thought patterns
- abnormal body movements
Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine. Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. This opiate drug is highly addictive, causing a “rush” of euphoria for those taking the drug.
Depending on the mode of transmission, heroin use can cause a wide array of side effects.
Side Effects Of Heroin Use
Some of the short-term effects caused by heroin use include:
- shallow breathing
- dry mouth
- clouded thinking
- switching from a conscious to semi-conscious state
Long-term heroin use may lead to more severe symptoms such as:
- liver disease
- lung complications
- nosebleeds and damaged tissue in the nose
- sexual dysfunction in men
- kidney disease
- abscesses at the injection sites
- collapsed veins
- infection of the heart lining
- mental disorders
Treating Schizophrenia & Heroin Use Disorder
Treating schizophrenia will involve antipsychotic medications and various forms of behavioral therapy. Treatment options also focus on helping the person meet goals, pursue a career, or complete their education.
Those suffering from heroin use disorder or going through heroin withdrawal will need quick and immediate attention. Withdrawal can be severe which requires around-the-clock care.
Those with heroin addiction will likely require behavioral health treatment. Detox may be necessary as well. Those struggling with both heroin addiction and schizophrenia may require a dual diagnosis program that treats both issues at the same time.
If you or a loved one struggles with drug addiction and mental health issues, a treatment program can help. We have both inpatient and outpatient treatment options available. To learn more, please contact us today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Heroin
National Alliance on Mental Health - Schizophrenia
National Institute of Mental Health - Schizophrenia
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Heroin
National Institute on Drug Abuse - What is Heroin?
National Institute on Drug Abuse - What is Heroin and How is it Used?
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