Schizophrenia and Drug Abuse

Manila Bulletin, September 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Schizophrenia and Drug Abuse


My brother used drugs for years. He has so many failures, disappointments, guilt feelings and frustrations in life. Hes been in a private psychiatric hospital twice and three times in a psychiatric house/clinic. My question is, what is schizophrenia? What are its signs and symptoms? Are there different types of this illness? In the clinic, my brother is obliged to take Zyprexa, when he is out, he just stops taking the medicine and his illness recurs. Is there really hope for a total cure from this illness? WKA, Manila

Schizophrenia refers to a group of mental illnesses that are characterized by gross disruption of thinking, mood, and overall behavior. It is usually heralded by an acute episode that may manifest as a combination of a variety of symptoms that include social withdrawal, impaired concentration, loose thought associations, intense panic, anger, depression, elation, hyperactivity, hallucination, and delusion.

Of those who develop an acute schizophrenic episode, about a fourth will completely recover from the condition; most will have long periods of remission (during which time the person functions normally) that alternate with occasional schizophrenic episodes; but about 10-15 percent will experience severe long-term incapacitation.

In answer to your third question there are several types of schizophrenic disorders that can be distinguished from each other on the basis of their more prominent manifestations. Thus, if the illness is characterized by persecutory or grandiose delusions, it is termed paranoid schizophrenia; if it is severe psychomotor disturbance of either excitement or rigidity, it is referred to as catatonic schizophrenia, etc.

As to its cause, the current prevailing belief among experts is that schizophrenia has a multi-factorial cause. It is the result of the interaction of genetic, environmental and neurotransmitter factors.

Schizophrenia, doubtless, has a genetic component. It tends to run in families. In identical twins that are raised separately, if one twin develops schizophrenia, the other twin also develops the disease in 50 percent of instances. But the mere fact that only 50 percent of the "other twins" develop the disease already proves that environmental factors, not just genetic ones, also play a role in the causation of the disease. …

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