Can Drug Abuse Cause Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia affects 24 million people globally. It’s a complex and debilitating mental disorder that causes disturbances in thought processes, perceptions, and emotional responsiveness. It typically appears in early adulthood or late adolescence.

You might be wondering: Can Drug Abuse Cause Schizophrenia? The answer is no. Researchers haven’t found concrete answers on whether drug abuse can lead to Schizophrenia. However, according to WebMD, People who have Schizophrenia definitely have high rates of substance use disorders – including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine.

But all is not lost. The Drug Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles helps Schizophrenic patients manage their symptoms and live everyday life. This blog will look at some of the most asked questions, like what exactly is Schizophrenia, what are risk factors, and how to make a proper diagnosis.

What Is Schizophrenia, And What Are Common Risk Factors?

What Is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by disruptions in emotional responsiveness, thought processes, perceptions, and social interactions. Contrary to what most people think, Schizophrenia doesn’t make people dangerous to others. Someone who has Schizophrenia is more harmful to themselves. Common risk factors for developing Schizophrenia are:

Genetic Factors – If your close relatives have Schizophrenia, there’s a high risk that you will develop symptoms too. It was also found that identical twins have a 50% chance of developing Schizophrenia if one twin develops it.

Now, let us look at whether someone can get drug-induced Schizophrenia.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect Schizophrenia?

Over time, researchers have tried to research the link between substance use disorders and Schizophrenia, and the findings are interesting. Drug-induced Schizophrenia isn’t true Schizophrenia. It’s a drug-induced psychosis.

So, what’s the difference between them? Schizophrenia is diagnosed only when symptoms last more than six months and continue even if the person stops drug use.

On the other hand, symptoms of drug-induced psychosis last less than six months and stop within days (or weeks) of ceasing drug use.

Although substance abuse won’t cause Schizophrenia, it will definitely worsen the symptoms of Schizophrenia in several ways. Here are some of the listed ways.

It Can Worsen Psychotic Symptoms: Substances like cocaine and cannabis are known to worsen episodes of psychosis, delusions, and hallucinations.

Increased Risks Of Relapse: Those who are in remission can relapse as the chemicals in drugs can destabilize the brain’s chemistry, leading to a resurgence of symptoms.

Impaired Cognitive Functioning: Substance abuse can impair cognitive functions, which are already compromised in Schizophrenia. This includes memory, attention, and executive functioning, making it harder for individuals to manage daily activities.

How Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed?

  1. Clinical assessment

The first step includes a detailed interview with the patient to gather information on their symptoms and duration. Core symptoms of Schizophrenia are categorized into three major categories, namely positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms.

Positive Symptoms: Positive symptoms of Schizophrenia include delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not present), and disorganized speech or behavior.

Negative Symptoms: These symptoms include the inability to function normally, reduced emotional expression, lack of motivation, and withdrawal from social activities.

Cognitive Symptoms: These involve problems with attention, memory, and executive functions.

  1. Medical Evaluation

Once all the symptoms have been collected, the patient has to undergo a medical evaluation. A thorough physical examination and medical history review are conducted to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms, such as neurological disorders, substance use, or other medical conditions.

Laboratory Tests: Some blood tests and lab work will be done to check for substance abuse or medical conditions that could cause similar symptoms.

Imaging Tests: MRI or CT scans to detect abnormalities in brain structure or function.

  1. Psychiatric Evaluation

A detailed psychiatric evaluation helps assess the patient’s mental state, mood, and behavior. This may include:

Mental Status Examination (MSE): In MSE, patients’ appearance, behavior, thought processes, mood, and cognitive functions are checked.

Structured Interviews and Questionnaires: Standardized tools to evaluate the severity and nature of symptoms.

How Can You Manage Schizophrenia? Where To Get Support?

There are several care options for those suffering from Schizophrenia. The list includes medications, psychoeducation, family interventions, psychosocial rehabilitation, etc.

For those in advanced stages, facilitated assisted living and supported housing are also available. We suggest choosing a more recovery-oriented approach, which the Cast Centres takes. Here, patients are given a choice to select their form of treatment to manage Schizophrenia symptoms.


While the exact cause of Schizophrenia remains unclear, it is evident that both genetic predisposition and substance abuse play significant roles. The high incidence of substance use disorders among those with Schizophrenia highlights the need for integrated treatment approaches from Drug Rehabilitation Center Los Angeles, like Cast Centres, where both mental health and substance abuse issues are addressed. Understanding these connections is crucial for developing effective prevention and treatment strategies.

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