Psychosis is medically described as a condition that leads to a disconnect with reality. Individuals experiencing psychosis are known to exhibit a range of symptoms, such as hallucinations (audio, visual or both), delusions, thought disorder and other symptoms, such as mood swings, social isolation, demotivation, etc.
Though most of the people resort to substances as a means to alleviate painful symptoms, they can wreck a havoc on the users by worsening their condition. The co-occurrence of psychosis and substance abuse increases the chances of experiencing imprisonment, hospitalization, relapse, suicidal thoughts, relationship problems, aggressive behavior, etc.
Since psychosis and substance use problems tend to co-occur in most of the cases, the need of the hour is to integrate the treatment for both psychosis and substance abuse. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 100,000 adolescents or young adults experience psychosis annually in the United States. Such an eye-opening data highlight the total magnitude of the problem and the need for a holistic treatment.
The relationship between psychosis, psychotic disorders and substance use has garnered much attention in recent years, especially due to the increased legitimization of substances like alcohol and cannabis by society and the federal government. A number of evidences also suggest that substance use pattern generally manifests itself prior to the onset of psychosis or psychotic disorders.
However, it is still a difficult task to zone in on the causes of psychosis. It is also equally difficult to determine whether substance use increases the propensity to develop psychosis or not. Apparently, substance abuse patterns usually precede psychotic disorders in terms of onset.
Due to the narrow gap between the onsets of both the problems, a number of experts and scientists have established a causal relationship between psychotic disorders and substance abuse. As there is still much ambiguity in the above finding, there is a need for conducting more researches and studies to determine concrete results. However, a study on psychosis and substance use offers a promising insight into the relationship between both the disorders that will assist in coming up with better outcomes for individuals undergoing the treatment for psychosis.
Link between substance use and onset of psychosis
A study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin in February 2017attempted to understand the relationship between substance use, cessation of substances and psychosis. With 301 patients as participants who had experienced FEP, the investigators examined the adverse impact of substance use on mental health over a period of 10 years, with intervals of three months and subsequently at one, two, five and 10 years.
Of the 301 participants, 266 patients were broadly categorized under the four following groups depending on their pattern of substance use during the first two years of treatment:
- 43 patients were persistent users
- 48 patients were episodic users
- 34 patients were stop-users (participants who ceased their substance use within two years after diagnosis
- 141 were nonusers
At the end of 10 years, it was discovered that:
- Stop-users displayed similar symptoms as that of nonusers. Both stop-users and nonusers reported fewer symptoms than episodic or persistent users.
- Persistent users had negative scores on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale that continued to increase over 10 years during the duration of the study.
- Stop-users displayed diminishing negative scores over the same period.
The study concluded that one experiences significant improvements in his or her negative symptoms upon the cessation of substance use. This is a remarkable achievement considering the fact that these symptoms are difficult to treat with antipsychotics and affect a person’s daily life.
Road to recovery
If the individual engaged in substance use quits early, he or she can minimize the cost of treatment, attention and effort that would otherwise go into treating a more advanced version of psychosis. Only a holistic treatment can treat the existence of a co-occurring disorder. If you or your loved one is battling substance abuse, mental illnesses or both, it is imperative to seek professional help. The California Dual Diagnosis Helpline can assist in accessing the finest dual diagnosis treatment centers in California that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 or chat online with our medical representatives to know more about dual diagnosis treatment in Los Angeles.