Several studies and findings suggest that there is a definite relationship between mental health and substance abuse. Due to such an increased interdependency between mental health and substance abuse, people addicted to substances, such as alcohol, drugs, etc., are about twice as likely to be afflicted by mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, etc.
Such a coexistence of both mental health problems and addiction is widely known as dual diagnosis. Looking at the comorbidity of mental illnesses and addiction, one of the worst conditions witnessed by the users can be schizoaffective disorder.
Schizoaffective disorder, characterized by the symptoms of both schizophrenia and mood disorder, is a serious mental disorder that causes instability and interferes with the normal functioning of the brain. Though schizoaffective disorder is found in rare cases, its effects are highly devastating. It has also been widely witnessed that people suffering from schizoaffective disorder are comparatively more inclined toward substance abuse, which makes it one of the most disturbing mental illness and a co-occurring disease in the case of dual diagnosis.
Understanding warning signs to avoid misdiagnosis
Although schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder share the same characteristics and symptoms, they are different from each other. Due to the increased overlapping with schizophrenia and other mental disorders, many a times people suffering from schizoaffective disorder are often wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), schizoaffective disorder is witnessed in about 0.3 percent of the population. Though the incidence of schizoaffective disorder is same among both men and women, women tend to develop this illness at a comparatively earlier age. One of the important points to be noted is that schizoaffective disorder can develop into schizophrenia, if left untreated.
To effectively treat both the problem of schizoaffective disorder and addiction, it is essential to understand some of the common signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder as mentioned below:
- Concentration issues
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Social isolation
- Speaking so quickly that others cannot interrupt
- Increased risk of suicide often due to delusions
- Lack of engagement in daily activities
- Poor performance at school or work
- Sleep disorder
- Changes in appetite and energy
- Disorganized speech
- Delusions and paranoia
- Less attention on hygiene or grooming
- Elevated or depressed mood
Being a relatively rare disease, it is essential to understand the factors that cause schizoaffective disorder. As such, schizoaffective disorder is a comparatively new and unstudied disorder, which might be triggered due to familial reasons or changes in the brain chemistry because of stress or use of psychoactive drugs, such as codeine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), cocaine, etc.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 9.7 percent of all people, suffering from schizoaffective disorder, are likely to experience alcohol or drug abuse in their lifetime. Moreover, an additional 24 percent of people are likely to experience addiction.
Overall, people suffering from schizoaffective disorder tend to be more inclined toward alcohol, drugs or other addictive substances. While cocaine or heroin can help in depressing their grief and other symptoms, opiates, on the contrary, can trigger the euphoric sensations by interfering with the “feel good” chemicals of the brain. As most of the substances cause calm mind, most of the people start self-medicating, which increases the risk of developing tolerance and eventually addiction.
Seek recovery through holistic treatment
Although it is difficult to treat dual diagnosis due to the co-occurrence of both mental illness and substance abuse, it is not impossible. With proper medication and treatment, dual diagnosis can be effectively treated. In order to ensure recovery from both mental illness and addiction, it is essential to treat these two separate conditions simultaneously or in parallel.
Considering the increased awareness about dual diagnosis, several holistic treatments have come up for the effective diagnosis of dual diagnosis. If both the conditions are not properly diagnosed and treated, there can be chances of returning to the old habits and diseases once again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with dual diagnosis, get in touch with the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in California. You can chat online or call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 to access more information about the best dual diagnosis treatment programs in California.