According to those who have closely seen wars, “war is everything from Hell on earth to the world’s most powerful aphrodisiac. It is the subjectively experienced extremism of warfare that so readily contributes to the onset of mental or emotional illness.” Truly, war brings unimagined horrors with it. In fact, it cuts across all aspects of one’s social, environmental and economic life. But, when it comes to soldiers, the repercussions of war are more severe affecting them not only physically by causing serious injuries, but also leaving them shell-shocked for the rest of their life.
Previous studies had pointed out that continued stress caused by war is often responsible for higher risk of schizophrenia in the later life of babies born in war-torn areas. In case of war veterans, living under the constant threat of an enemy fire makes it extremely stressful for them to live at the front. Persistent fear of life and ongoing stress causes brain changes that are not reversible, eventually leading to the onset of mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
Also, concurrent with the development of mental disorders could be a comorbid substance or alcohol abuse problem occurring after a soldier’s return from war. Thus, dual diagnosis is a crisis rampant among war veterans who suffer from mental disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD and schizophrenia, along with a substance abuse problem. Studies have shown that personnel employed in combat zones are at an increased risk of developing substance abuse.
No safe level of alcohol use for people with schizophrenia
Although war veterans with schizophrenia are less likely to abuse the bottle as compared to the general public, when they do, they are more likely to engage in heavy or risky drinking, as highlighted by a recent study published in the journal Psychological Services. According to the researchers, alcohol abuse in this category only serves to worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Adherence to medications is extremely important for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Currently, antipsychotic medications are the first line of treatment for mitigating psychotic behavior related to this disorder and for preventing a relapse. In the absence of compliance, it is quite likely that the patient will require a hospital readmission. According to an old study, the rate of non-adherence to medications in patients with schizophrenia is reported to be as high as 40-60 percent. Also, patients who were compliant with medication while undergoing treatment in outpatient setting stopped being responsive 2 years post discharge.
Road to recovery
One of the most critical aspects of schizophrenia treatment is adherence to medication. With medication, one can not only improve the quality of life but also prevent the occurrence of a relapse, which puts a significant burden on the patient’s health and increases risk of mortality. Relapses are dangerous because with each relapse the response to antipsychotic medications and therapy also declines.
Dual diagnosis, though difficult, can be managed. In this case, since both the disorders are considered interdependent, a holistic treatment approach, considering all aspects of the disorder is needed in order to provide an effective care to the patient. Both schizophrenia and alcohol addiction can be treated provided one seeks professional help at the right time. Co-occurring disorders can be treated with a supportive detoxification program, behavioral therapies and medication.
If you or a loved one is struggling to cope with a co-occurring disorder, feel free to contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline to learn about the best dual diagnosis rehab in California. You may call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 or chat online with our representatives for more details about dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.