Risk Of Schizophrenia Increased With Alcohol And Substance Abuse

First Posted: Oct 22, 2016 05:10 AM EDT

A new study reveals that people who are addicted to excessive drinking and consumption of drugs are prone to a higher risk of developing schizophrenia in later life. Previously, numerous studies were conducted which focused on the impact of addiction of alcohol and drugs on mental health. However, due to methodological limitations, the findings remain uncertain.

Dr. Stine Mai Nielsen and Prof. Merete Nordentoft from the Copenhagen University Hospital and Mental Health Center in Denmark carried out a study on 31, 33,968 individuals, leading to an identification of 2,04,505 cases of substance abuse and 21,305 individuals were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their findings were presented at the International Early Psychosis Association Meeting which was held in Milan, Italy.

The data was analyzed on basis of several factors such as gender, location, co-abuse, psychiatric diagnoses, patient's substance abuse and psychiatric history. According to the Medical News Daily, the researchers found out that the abuse of any substance increased the risk of schizophrenia. The increased risks included:

  • Alcohol - 3.4 times
  • Sedatives - 1.7 times
  • Cannabis - 5.2 times
  • Amphetamines - 1.24 times
  • Hallucinogenic drugs - 1.9 times
  • Other substances - 2.8 times

According to HuntNews, the research concluded that the risk of schizophrenia remained significant even 10 to 15 years after the diagnosis of substance abuse. The study added that people, who are addicted to abuse the substance, generally tend to develop the risk of schizophrenia. Drug abuse affects those areas of the brain which are essential for decision making and reward processing.

A second study was carried out by the same group, led by Dr. Carsten of Copenhagen University Hospital, whereby they studied the potential role of parental substance abuse in the development of schizophrenia. The abuse was segmented into two categories - diagnosis before the birth and diagnosis after the birth of offspring. The researchers have found out that maternal cannabis abuse was linked to six times increase the risk of schizophrenia in the child. For paternal cannabis, there were 5.5 times increased the risk of schizophrenia in child whether diagnosed before or after the birth. As per a report published by the CTV News, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health states that people with mental illness are likely to have a substance use problem when compared to the general public.

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