Dopamine may play a large role in schizophrenia. High levels of dopamine are seen in part of the brain called the striatum, which lets the brain and body know what is important and how to react to certain stimuli. It may sound odd at first that individuals with schizophrenia may be more likely to abuse amphetamines and other dopamine-raising stimulants, but other parts of the brain may not have high levels of dopamine. The prefrontal cortex may have decreased levels of dopamine, which may motivate schizophrenics to self-medicate this issue by using amphetamines.
Amphetamines cause an immediate rush of dopamine to the reward pathway, causing feelings of euphoria and pleasure in the short-term. People with schizophrenia may suffer from anxiety and mood swings, and these euphoric feelings may relieve stress. However, the long-term abuse of these drugs may worsen symptoms of schizophrenia and cause mood swings.
How Amphetamine-Induced Psychosis May Cause Schizophrenia
Amphetamine-induced psychosis may be mistaken for schizophrenia. The excess of dopamine in the brain may lead to mood swings and symptoms almost identical to schizophrenia, including paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Dopamine receptors in the brain may become sensitive to high levels of dopamine, and an increased response may occur in brain chemistry and behavior. These changes may be permanent in those who are susceptible to developing schizophrenia.
How Amphetamine Abuse May Worsen Schizophrenia
Amphetamines raise the level of dopamine, which lets the brain know what is important for survival. It motivates people to seek out substances and behaviors that increase dopamine. Schizophrenia may already cause an excess of dopamine in the striatum, and when combined with amphetamines this excess may cause everyday occurrences to seem unnaturally important. This can worsen paranoia and delusions, which are already problematic for schizophrenics. Addiction changes how the brain processes dopamine, which may be permanent and worsen symptoms for schizophrenia.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Amphetamine Abuse and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia or addiction alone may be debilitating, but combined they may be difficult to treat. Dual Diagnosis treatment can help diagnose and treat schizophrenia and addiction at the same time. Counselors will discuss possible causes of addiction and schizophrenia and help patients work through issues related to their symptoms. Doctors may prescribe medication to treat the symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal or schizophrenia, and a treatment center staff will help patients plan for long-term mental health care and addiction recovery.
Treatment for Amphetamine Abuse and Schizophrenia
If you suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia or amphetamine abuse, we can help. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day at our toll-free helpline to answer your questions about addiction and help you find treatment that is right for you. Don’t delay; call now to find proper treatment for schizophrenia and begin recovering from addiction.