Schizophrenia has often been associated with alcohol abuse. In fact, this psychological disorder is responsible for many similar addiction problems. Smoking cigarettes is the addiction with the highest engagement in schizophrenic individuals, while alcohol is the second most popular problem. According to some recent studies, it seems that up to 30% of all schizophrenic patients suffer from an alcohol addiction. Even if a person does not currently suffer from alcoholism, there is a chance that they’ve had such problems in the past. When it comes to the general population, only 10% of all people are affected by an alcohol related problem, so the prevalence of a current or past drinking problem is extremely high in the schizophrenia population.
The Effects of Alcohol Over Schizophrenics
As if schizophrenia was not harmful enough, scientists have also revealed a lot of problematic consequences caused by the dual-diagnosis with an alcohol disorder. Most importantly, once inside the body, alcohol can conflict with the positive effects of schizophrenia medications. They lose their intensity and may become completely neutralized and inert. This is why alcohol is strictly forbidden whenever a treatment is prescribed. On a different note, the physical morbidity is also taken to a new level when alcohol is combined with schizophrenia. The admissions to hospital grow in frequency as well, since the treatment has become somewhat ineffective. Unsurprisingly, schizophrenia patients who do not require hospitalization present an increased chance to find themselves involved in criminal activities, even by accident regardless of their good-hearted nature. A few other negative consequences include suicide attempts, self-harm, poor insight into one’s own cognition and awareness, and psychosocial dysfunctions in relationships and careers.
Factors That Lead to Alcohol Abuses in Schizophrenics
Unfortunately for the patients, the medical world cannot really make a proper connection between schizophrenia and alcohol. Some patients develop an alcohol addiction, while others do not. Which patients are more likely to experience these problems? What symptoms lead to this, or does it have to do with previous life experiences? It is hard to know and the correlative factors aren’t very specific. According to some research, a general age range, gender, and family history are the main risk factors. There is nothing clear and concise about these factors, however. Obviously there are only two genders and the correlations aren’t incredibly strong. On a different note, a more recent study with various population groups isolating for differing variables has come up with a few other conclusions. Summarily, a low educational achievement is very likely to prevent schizophrenic patients from resisting the overuse of alcohol. Contrarily, violent offending and other related issues are very likely to direct patients to an alcohol addiction.
There are a few obvious differences between the “standard” schizophrenia and schizophrenia mixed with alcohol abuses. For instance, the alcohol related cases of schizophrenia manifests itself much later than regular schizophrenia when the addiction came first. The symptoms are also more aggressive. Depression and anxiety are more severe and problematic. On the other hand, the positive symptoms are more likely to present themselves than negative signs. The functional impairment is a lot less severe as well.
It is worth noting that the alcohol consumption in schizophrenic patients is perfectly normal to a particular point. Everyone has a glass of wine or beer occasionally, whether it comes to a birthday party or a heavy meal with the family. However, the consumption becomes an actual problem when alcohol brings in extra symptoms, such as more sleep, delusions, hallucinations, or aggression. There is a true alcohol problem when these symptoms are followed by amnesia (blacking out) as well.
To summarize, the point is that alcohol has an interesting relationship with schizophrenia. Alcohol abuse can come before the onset of schizophrenia, but can be a symptom of it as well as people attempt to escape their problems. Unfortunately, it only exacerbates things. The truly eye-opening statistic is that, for those with schizophrenia, the alcohol abuse rate reaches a staggering 30% where as it hangs around 10% for the general population. More research must be performed, but there’s obviously something going on here. Please do not consume alcohol if you deal with schizophrenia!