Skip to content

Schizophrenia Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Schizophrenia: What About Substance Abuse?

Some people who abuse drugs show symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia. Therefore, people with schizophrenia may be mistaken for people who are affected by drugs. Most researchers do not believe that substance abuse causes schizophrenia. However, people who have schizophrenia are much more likely to have a substance or alcohol abuse problem than the general population.

Substance abuse can make treatment for schizophrenia less effective. Some drugs, like marijuana and stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine, may make symptoms worse. In fact, research has found increasing evidence of a link between marijuana and schizophrenia symptoms. In addition, people who abuse drugs are less likely to follow their treatment plan.

Schizophrenia and smoking

Addiction to nicotine is the most common form of substance abuse in people with schizophrenia. They are addicted to nicotine at three times the rate of the general population (75 to 90 percent vs. 25 to 30 percent).

The relationship between smoking and schizophrenia is complex. People with schizophrenia seem to be driven to smoke, and researchers are exploring whether there is a biological basis for this need. In addition to its known health hazards, several studies have found that smoking may make antipsychotic drugs less effective.

Quitting smoking may be very difficult for people with schizophrenia because nicotine withdrawal may cause their psychotic symptoms to get worse for a while. Quitting strategies that include nicotine replacement methods may be easier for patients to handle. Doctors who treat people with schizophrenia should watch their patients' response to antipsychotic medication carefully if the patient decides to start or stop smoking.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Reviewed on September 08, 2009
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

69X75_Depression.jpg
Article
Mental Health Psychotic Disorders
Article
 
Schizophrenia Medications
Article
bored man resting chin on hands
Article
 
10 Questions to Ask Doctor About Schizophrenia
Article
brain scan
Slideshow
 
Schizophrenia What Increases Your Risk
Article
mother and daughter
Article
 
male patient with doctor
Article
romantic couple
Article
 
colored pencils
Video
businesswoman working at desk at night
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections