Drug Addiction That Masks A Schizoaffective Disorder

Patients with Schizoaffective disorders usually have schizophrenia symptoms in combination with mood disorders. This, therefore, results in a disease that is particularly hard to diagnose in the backdrop of drug or alcohol addiction.

Why Is It Difficult To Manage Schizoaffective Disorders In The Presence Of Drug Addiction?

1. The symptoms are usually very confusing – say that the patient has depression, it could be stemming from drug addiction, or depression caused by the schizoaffective disorder. This makes it fundamentally difficult for a physician to treat the condition effectively.

2. There is increased propensity towards drug use and dependence – as it is with most acute mental illnesses, patients with schizoaffective disorders are often prone to getting hooked to drugs. If this goes unchecked, it rapidly progresses to complicated advanced states, making it even harder to treat the disease

3. Isolation tends to complicate issues – most mental illness patients will often prefer solitude. This affects the treatment in many ways. First, there are increased chances of deterioration of both the addiction and the schizoaffective disorder. Then compliance to treatment is also adversely affected.

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Management and Approaches to Treatment


In spite of there being closely intertwined symptoms of schizoaffective disorder and drug addiction, the medical profession must first identify what symptoms are caused by what. Both conditions will cause almost similar symptoms. The health worker, therefore, carefully examines the patients and determines what symptoms are related to the drug addiction, and what symptoms are related to the schizoaffective disorder. In so doing, it is easier to manage the situation better. This also avoids misdiagnosis, where the doctor erroneously begins treatment on the wrong condition.

Treatment Programs

Several hybrid programs have been developed to manage drug addiction occurring alongside schizoaffective disorders. Initially, most communities had distinctive programs for mental illnesses such as schizoaffective disorders and separate programs for drug addiction. This led to patients being referred back and forth from one program to the other.

Family Involvement

In most cases, the kinfolk of the patient fail to realize that the patient has both a mental problem and a schizoaffective disorder. This, consequently, leads to a vicious cycle in which the two conditions feed each other without the family’s knowledge.

A family, therefore, is put on alert for both behavioral and physical evidence of the conditions such as rebellion, needle marks on the patient’s body and even appearance of new unusual friends of the patient, among other things.

Support and Self-Care

Often, denial and lack of insight is common in patients with drug addiction and mental illnesses. This makes it hard to come out of a schizoaffective disorder that is masked by drug addiction. When this is coupled with poor support from the family, it becomes almost impossible for a person to recover.

Health workers, therefore, work with the patient to help him or her realize the condition. Once the patient recognizes the problem, he or she is put on various programs for help. Though the patient is allowed to willingly go through the treatment programs, close monitoring is essential from both the family and health workers.

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It may not be easy to treat drug addiction, coupled with schizoaffective disorders. We can, however, offer non-confrontational, motivational and engaging therapies, alongside social and behavioral support programs. Through them, we will have a profound positive effect in treating the condition. Ultimately, we will not only help the patient recover, but we will also give them an improved quality of life. This will, in turn, greatly reduce the chances of relapse.

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