Drug Induced Schizophrenia

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There have been a number of recent research projects that have linked cannabis and schizophrenia, suggesting that marijuana use may trigger, worsen, or cause an earlier onset of schizophrenia. There is also a great deal of evidence that amphetamine use is particularly detrimental to schizophrenics and can severely exacerbate symptoms. When you add to this information the fact that many people with schizophrenia have a substance abuse problem, it is logical to wonder whether schizophrenia is sometimes a drug-induced disorder. The answer is that drugs can play a role in the development and maintenance of schizophrenic symptoms, but schizophrenia is not caused by drug use.

People who abuse substances may develop a drug-induced psychosis, which has many similarities to schizophrenia. But while the symptoms may be similar, drug-induced psychosis is not the same thing as schizophrenia. One difference is that drug-induced psychosis is usually temporary and reversible, while schizophrenia is a chronic disorder. Another more significant difference is that schizophrenia is a medical condition that clearly has a genetic component of some sort.

So schizophrenia can be drug-induced, in that some people who develop schizophrenia will have their disorder triggered by drug use and continued drug use by schizophrenics leads to more severe symptoms and difficulty in managing the disease. However, these people already have a genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia that has nothing to do with their drug use. So while schizophrenics can suffer from drug-induced psychosis, there are other factors underlying their illness.

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