Can Drug Addiction Cause Schizophrenia

Can Drug Addiction Cause Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health problem that is widely recognized as a disability that its occurrence is one of the most methodically difficult to estimate due to the complexities of its diagnosis. The symptoms of schizophrenia overlap other disorders and the prevalence of Schizophrenia is often combined with other mental illnesses to generate near accurate data.

Medical reports and studies show that schizophrenia and other closely related mental disorders have a prevalence between 0.25% and 0.64% of the US population. The overall estimate of the prevalence of schizophrenia among people without medical attention worldwide ranges from 0.33% to 0.75%.


Statistically, schizophrenia is recorded as one of the 15 prominent causes of mental disability worldwide. The mortality rate among people with schizophrenia, such as the estimated 4.9% that die by suicide, is also due to co-occurring health problems such as diabetes, liver problems, heart disease, and others. What is the cause of schizophrenia and what is its connection with drug addiction? Can drug abuse and addiction cause schizophrenia?

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a decline in mental health which is characterized by consistent disruption in thought processes, emotional responsiveness, and inability to function normally. Those who are suffering from schizophrenia are usually unable to tell what’s real or imaginary.

Schizophrenia is a decline in mental health

Schizophrenia often misconstrued as multiple personality disorder (MPD), however, there are more cases of schizophrenia without the inclusion of multiple personalities and the accompanying violent tendencies.  People who are diagnosed with schizophrenia often have difficulties responding appropriately to various situations, and this may result in problems in interpersonal relationships at work or school.

Onset Of Schizophrenia

At what age would a person likely experience schizophrenia? This may vary from one person to the other, depending on a number of factors such as lifestyle, habits, use of substances, etc. Schizophrenia, in most cases, can be diagnosed in the late teens to the early thirties but may surface earlier in males. Than females.  

Causes Of Schizophrenia

According to reports, there are no known causes of schizophrenia; rather, it is said to spring from a combination of physical, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors. Some individuals are more prone to mental illness than others. A life of stress, trauma, and emotional problems may also trigger the illness. Here are some possible causes and risks of schizophrenia.

1. Family Genetics

Schizophrenia may either be dominant or recessive in the genes. Different genetic combinations may increase vulnerability to the condition. Identical twins share similar genetic makeup and one is more liable to have the illness if the other has it, irrespective of how they were raised. While in the situation of non-identical twins, they have different genetic makeup, therefore, the risks are minimal.

One OF the Cause Of Schizophrenia

2. Neurotransmitters

These are chemicals that are produced in the brain; they are responsible for channeling messages from one cell to the other. There is an unclear relationship between schizophrenia and drugs because some medications that alter neurotransmitter levels in the brain also have an effect on the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Various scientific researches have suggested that schizophrenia may develop due to the change in levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

3. Complications At Birth

Another research showed that those who developed schizophrenia later in life were likely to have experienced one or more of these conditions during their own births: premature labor, low birth-weight, and asphyxia during birth. It is possible that these conditions have a role to play in the early development of the brain.

Can Drug Addiction Cause Schizophrenia

Drugs are not particularly known to cause schizophrenia, they only increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other related mental illnesses. There are numerous illicit drugs that have the ability to trigger symptoms of schizophrenia to individuals who are particularly susceptible.  Some of these drugs include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • Cannabis


Nicotine is a chemical substance found in tobacco. The pathways of the substance interact with that of schizophrenia which consists of the glutamatergic and the dopaminergic pathways. It is reported that at least 70 percent of individuals who have chronic schizophrenia are nicotine addicts.

Cause Of Schizophrenia

A scientific report showed that more than 14,000 adolescents who used more than 10 sticks of cigarettes daily were more prone to schizophrenia. More research is required in this field to make clear conclusions on the role of nicotine with schizophrenia.


The risk of suicide is very in individuals with schizophrenia that also abuse cocaine. People in this category are usually less compliant with treatment. A dopamine-dependent mechanism exists in both schizophrenia and cocaine use disorder, so based on the hypothesis of self-medication, drug users may try to use cocaine to counter the side effects of antipsychotic medications and to reinstall dopamine-mediated reward paths.


Many studies have investigated the possibilities that cannabis may play a role in the development of schizophrenia and the results have always come out the same. Cannabis exacerbates psychosis and this condition varies in different individuals. Adolescents that use cannabis excessively are more at risk of developing a mental disorder, which will aggravate at adulthood.

The result of a study of individuals between the age of 15 and 18 who used cannabis often, showed that they all exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia at the age of 26. The conclusion from these and other tests showed that daily users of cannabis were at very high risk of exhibiting psychotic symptoms  

Other Associated Triggers   

Schizophrenia also has non-drug-related causes that can develop anytime. Some psychological conditions and life events that may cause schizophrenia without drug addiction includes:

  • Bereavement of a deceased friend or relative
  • Losing a job or home
  • Marriage and relationship trials and disengagement
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Other traumatic experiences

Signs And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

How can one tell that they may be developing schizophrenia? Even though the signs may vary, there are general signals that can be closely observed. Here are some signs and symptoms:

Signs And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
  • Delusional thinking and misinterpretations of experiences
  • Hallucinations that include seeing, hearing, and feeling things that are non-existent
  • Meaningless and disorganized words that are often distracted, repetitive, incomplete, and illogical
  • Poor coordination and response in communication; usually accompanied by a strange posture, no impulse control, and a recurring catatonic state.
  • Deviation from normal behavior
  • Poor hygiene and lack of interest in appearance

 Treatment Of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia develops from one stage to another until it becomes critical. Treating the mental illness also requires a lot of tests to fully ascertain the mental condition of the patient as well as underlying physical, emotional, and mental conditions that may be contributing to the illness.

The first line of treatment for a person suffering from schizophrenia is to enroll them in a mental health treatment program called Care program approach (CPA). This program ensures that the patient receives adequate professional help.

The CPA Is Divided Into 4 Stages

1. Assessment Stage

At the stage, the emotional and mental stability of the person is tested to better understand the needs of the patient.

2. Treatment Plan

A tailored treatment plan is created to cater directly to the needs of the patient, either as a live-in patient or an outpatient.

3. Elect Key Contact

in most hospitals or health institutions, a professional contact person is assigned to the patient for management, monitoring, and evaluation.

There is no specified cure for Schizophrenia, however, it can be effectively managed especially if it is diagnosed early in life and treated using various physical and mental health regimens.