Alcohol and Schizophrenia Treatment

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Dealing with alcohol abuse and schizophrenia on their own can be challenging options to work with. You need specialized treatment to help with both issues. However, when the patient is dealing with both schizophrenia and alcohol addiction, it can provide some unique problems that need to be worked through to help the patient get better.

The Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a type of mental health disorder that can impact the way that the patient is able to function in their daily life. It has the ability to impact the emotional regulation, thought processes, perceptions of self, and even how they see their external environment all in one. It can be hard for the person who has this disorder to deal with stress, keep a job, or have a healthy relationship.

There are different symptoms of this disorder to consider. Some are considered positive, which means that they are found in those who have this mental disorder and are not found within the general public. There are also negative symptoms which means they are things the person with schizophrenia is lacking that they should have.

Some of the positive symptoms can include delusions, movement disorders, and dysfunctional methods of thinking. Negative symptoms could include issues with emotions, lack of motivation, and even trouble feeling pleasure. Many also may lack the desire to have relationships with others. These people may feel like they do not belong or that something is making them not fit in.

There are sometimes cognitive symptoms that you will notice for the person who has this disorder. They may struggle with their memory and other executive functions. This, along with some of the other symptoms, can make it hard to feel like the person fits in and they may constantly feel judged for that. They can turn to alcohol in order to try and feel better and to suppress their issues and symptoms. This may work temporarily, but it starts a hard process that can lead to alcohol addiction and a whole host of other conditions along the way.

Schizophrenia and Alcohol Abuse

Those who struggle with schizophrenia are more likely to abuse different substances, including alcohol. This is because they feel that it helps to make the symptoms of their disorder better. While they may get a bit of relief in the process when the side effects wear off, they notice that the symptoms of schizophrenia are worse. This then leads them to drinking more alcohol to get some relief. And that is the start of a hard circle to get out of.

When someone has an addiction and schizophrenia at the same time, they are dealing with a co-occurring disorder. There are a number of reasons why these disorders tend to happen together at such high rates. This may be due to the fact the patient will use the alcohol to help self-medicate, a variety of environmental factors, a genetic history, or that the brain regions that both interact with overlap.

The alcohol addiction and the schizophrenia are able to impact the function and the chemistry of the brain. This may be part of why the person dealing with the schizophrenia is more likely to battle addiction, especially with alcohol. The parts of the brain that are designed to regulate willpower and emotions could be dysfunctional for those with schizophrenia, which may make it harder for them to stop drinking once they start.

Genetics could play a factor in this as well. In about half of the cases of alcoholism, there are genetic factors at play. Environmental aspects can be to blame too, including several mental health conditions.

For many schizophrenic patients, alcohol is more of a way for them to self-medicate from some of the symptoms they suffer from. When they drink, they may feel like they are able to function normally again. This can help them to dull their anxiety and lower the inhibitions. They may have trouble making smart decisions already and when they add in the alcohol, it helps them to feel good so they will keep doing.

These two conditions seem to aggravate one another and it is hard to find a way to get them to start on their own. The symptoms of both are going to overlap quite a bit, which will make the situation worse. The patient may need to help of a professional to help fight off the alcohol addiction and to give them a way to manage their schizophrenia as well.

What are the Hazards of Alcohol Abuse and Schizophrenia Happening Together?

You will quickly find that the symptoms that come with alcoholism and schizophrenia will exacerbate each other when they are not treated well. While alcohol may seem like it can provide relief from anxiety and other social difficulties that are symptoms of schizophrenia, when the effects of alcohol start to wear out, it is likely that the schizophrenia will be much worse than before. It is also likely that alcohol will increase the intensity and the number of psychotic symptoms the patient has, including hallucinations and delusions.

Movement disorders can be a big side effect that comes with schizophrenia. Alcohol makes this worse by impacting motor coordination, which will make it more likely that the patient will fall or get in an accident. While someone who suffers from alcohol abuse will tend to make bad decisions already, the schizophrenia can just make that worse.

On its own, the issues with schizophrenia can contribute to the person being homeless, trouble with keeping a job, and troubles having a healthy relationship. And when alcohol abuse starts to get into the mix, it will just make everything so much worse. Legal and criminal troubles sometimes occur when both of these conditions happen because alcohol is able to heighten the amount of violence, aggression, and criminal behaviors.

One of the biggest issues though is that drinking alcohol of any kind may interfere with treatment for schizophrenia. This happens because alcohol could hinder the function of certain medications so they will not work on the symptoms. Since the alcohol is a depressant of the nervous symptoms, it can slow down some of the vital functions to keep the person alive, and when mixed with other medications, there can be bad side effects as well.

Both of these conditions can make a mess of the health of the individual who suffers from them. Rather than letting the conditions take over, it is a good idea to work with a medical professional to get them under control. One will simply make the other worse so both conditions need to be handled at the same time.

Integrated Treatment for Alcohol Use and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious condition that needs to be treated with a combination of therapeutic methods and medications. There are a number of medications that can help make sure the symptoms are under control. The patient will often go through various behavioral therapies so they can learn healthier methods to help them cope, the right life skills, and how to manage the challenges that will show up daily with this disorder.

If that is not challenging enough, there is the potential that the patient is going to deal with alcohol abuse as well. When the patient enters into a dual diagnosis treatment center for alcohol and schizophrenia, there will be some special considerations to help medical professionals to handle and manage both of the disorders. Both of these disorders are going to exacerbate one another, so an integrated approach that works on both will ensure that the symptoms from each disorder will be worked on at the same time.

When it comes to alcohol and schizophrenia treatment options, the professionals will need to work together to handle both disorders. Working on just one is not going to be an effective way to help the patient handle their issues. They may be able to handle one for a bit, but a chance of a relapse is more likely to happen. It is important to work with a facility that can handle co-occurring diseases at the same time. Not all treatment centers can do this so it is important to do your research and to find the right treatment center to make this work.

An alcohol and schizophrenia treatment center is going to provide some great care to their patients. Some of the common components that will be part of treatment include:

  1. Medical detox: When someone is dealing with alcohol abuse, they need to go through a withdrawal time. When they also have schizophrenia, there is the chance that the symptoms will be very intense. A medical detox is going to provide both the mental health and medical health support all the time. Medical professionals will be able to watch the patient and help them as needed, including medication to lessen the symptoms through withdrawal.
  2. Medications: Since schizophrenia is a serious mental health issue, medication will be part of the treatment. These medications can help the patient during withdrawal and can be used to help manage some of the symptoms of schizophrenia as well. Medical professionals will talk to the patient to make sure they get everything organized and hand out the right medications.
  3. Therapy: The patient will need to go through therapy to work through both conditions. Group sessions will help the patient to learn coping skills, how to conduct life with schizophrenia, and even strategies to help prevent a relapse later on. Family sessions can provide counseling to other members of the family to get everyone on the same page to work through the disorder. Individual sessions are important to and provide the patient with the help that they need to get through the disorder and the addiction.
  4. Support groups: There will be certain support groups that are made up of others who have similar issues that they are dealing with as well. With this support network, it becomes easier to make it through the hard times for dealing with the schizophrenia and alcoholism.
  5. Education: Individuals are able to learn more about both disorders, which can be one of the best ways to handle them and get them under control.
  6. Aftercare support: When the treatment time is done, the patient will still need support and help to fight off alcohol abuse and other issues. Individuals will still be given support and provided with programs to help them do well and avoid relapsing in the future.

There are different programs that you can utilize to help deal both co-occurring schizophrenia and alcohol use disorders. They can be as short as 30 days to help the patient or they can go for much longer – 90 days or even up to 1 year. Most patients should consider taking the longer time period to help take care of the conditions. Since both alcoholism and schizophrenia are major disorders, it is important to do the longer programs to give yourself time to heal and learn how to cope with the disorders.

It is best to treat both alcoholism and schizophrenia at the same time with the help of a trained professional. If you can find a treatment center in your preferred area that can handle co-occurring disorders, this will be a healthier way to help regain sobriety and a healthy life. Many times, an inpatient, residential alcohol and schizophrenia treatment program is the best option. This allows the patient to get away from the negative influences that may make the issues worse.

Inside these residential programs, the patient will be able to get into a predictable pattern, receive the right nutrition, and have medical professionals who are able to look after them all the time. This can be beneficial during the healing process.

Choosing the Right Alcohol and Schizophrenia Treatment Center

There are many benefits to working through schizophrenia and alcohol abuse in a treatment setting. Medical professionals can be there at all times to provide support, medication, and assistance the whole time. When you are suffering from both disorders, an in-patient treatment center that can handle both of these disorders is the best way to ensure you will be successful and regain your life back again.