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Schizoaffective Disorder and Substance Abuse

June 20, 2013

People who suffer from mental illnesses and mood disorders may also struggle with substance abuse. Alcohol and other substances are known to destabilize someone with schizoaffective disorder. Not to mention, a treatment plan loses its effectiveness when an individual is self-medicating him or herself.

Diagnosing and treating schizoaffective disorder is challenging because it requires consideration of mental health issues and mood disorders. Adding substance abuse to this equation makes prescribing a treatment plan more difficult. Unfortunately, it seems people who have schizoaffective disorder are susceptible to abusing substances.


If you or someone you love is concerned about mental health problems, avoiding alcohol and/or street drugs will allow medical professionals to arrive at a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.

Facts about Mental Health and Substance Abuse

– Depression commonly results from alcohol abuse. Therefore, episodes of severe depression may not be caused by having schizoaffective disorder.

– Individuals with schizoaffective are more prone to substance abuse than people without mental illnesses or mood disorders. In other words, casual consumption of alcohol or taking recreational drugs easily leads to addiction. Also, the road to recovery is often more challenging for people who are diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

– Isolation, a symptom of schizoaffective disorder, can (and in many cases does) lead to substance abuse.

Substances often cause people who have combination disorders to spin out of control. This is because drugs and alcohol can provoke rapid mood cycling. In addition, substance abuse has been known to trigger depression and delusions, which potentially lead to dangerous activities of self-harm or harming others.

For these reasons and more, it is important to be honest with your doctor about any substances you consume, whether addicted or not. Medical professionals benefit from knowing how the combination of mental illness, mood disorder, and substance use effect an individual. This helps diagnose, treat, and properly approach him or her.

It is possible to receive treatment for both schizoaffective disorder and substance abuse at the same time. For this to take place, medical professionals must be able to decipher which symptoms are connected to what conditions. Since many of the symptoms resulting from these afflictions are the same, it is possible to receive a misdiagnosis. This is why honest communication is the only way to help medical professionals construct helpful treatment plans.

If you or someone you care about struggles with a combination of mental illness, mood disorder, and addiction, here are some resources to guide further research:

Disability Living is aware of the challenges that face individuals in this position. We would like to care for you within our virtual community. If you would like to share your struggles regarding this sensitive topic, you may benefit other readers with your testimony.

In advance, we’d like to thank you for opening up. We hope to hear about your experiences and learn how substance abuse impacts people with schizoaffective disorder.

*Please note: All research for this article is compiled from direct and third party sources. Mention of programs, organizations and companies does not imply support of The National Benefit Authority.  Pictures are for creative purposes only; they are not intended to sell or promote products for the NBA and belong to the accredited individual, organization or company.

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