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Drug abuse and schizophrenia

Substance abuse or drug abuse is a maladaptive pattern of use of a substance. Some of the drugs most commonly associated with the term drug abuse are various medications, alcohol, cocaine, methaqualone and opioids. Substance abuse is typically prohibited by law, and many of the abused substances are actually illicit drugs. Their use often leads to criminal penalty, but also to many different physical, social and psychological negative consequences. Special type of harm is related psychological problems and schizophrenia is often associated with drug abuse. This condition is generally caused by combination of genetic and environmental factors, but it isn't always certain if a person developed schizophrenia because of a drug abuse, or schizophrenia simply made an individual more prone to risky behaviors, including drug abuse. Unfortunately, many individuals suffering from schizophrenia are perceived as persons high on drugs, since this condition has a lot of signs and symptoms similar to those of drug abuse.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by disintegration of thought processes and emotional reactions. People suffering from schizophrenia share many of the experiences of classic drug abusers, since the symptoms of this disease often involve auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, disorganized speech and thinking, and severe level of dysfunction. All of these symptoms are typically observed in people who consume psychoactive substances.  Schizophrenia occurs as a result of genetic and environmental factors working together. If a person has a first-degree relative with the disease, his risk is dramatically increased. However, environmental factors play a determining role for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. These factors include living environment, drug use, prenatal stressors, parenting style, social isolation and immigration, family dysfunction and childhood abuse and trauma.

Drug abuse and schizophrenia

Development of schizophrenia is associated with a number of drugs, including cannabis, cocaine and various amphetamines. About half of all people diagnosed with schizophrenia, use drugs and alcohol on the regular basis and in the excessive amounts. However it still doesn't mean that drug abuse always causes schizophrenia. Some of the patients simply take drugs as one of the coping mechanisms to deal with the symptoms of the disease. However, scientific studies have confirmed that frequent use of cannabis doubles the risk of various psychosis and schizophrenia. Cannabis is especially dangerous for younger individuals, people under the age of 21, since this is the time when the brain is developing rapidly and being most vulnerable. Overall conclusion of studies performed on younger population shows that people are about 4.5 times more likely to be schizophrenic at 26 if they were regular cannabis smokers at 15.

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