Living with a mental illness is in itself a very great burden and it is burden to which the findings of a new study from the University of Montreal adds another weight. According to Dr. Stephane Potvin of the said university, narcotics affects brains of the mentally ill in a more serious manner than they do the brains of people without psychiatric disorders.
In his study, Dr. Potvin found that around 33 to 50% of patients treated for psychiatric problems are also suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. He further noted that mentally ill individuals are more susceptible to the effects of drugs, which is why they tend to get addicted more easily. Drug use, he added, can also aggravate the symptoms of most mental diseases. “The odds that a mental disorder manifests itself in an individual can increase if he or she consumes drugs.”
Potvin revealed the effect of narcotics is greatest among people suffering from schizophrenia and similar problems where the incidence of drug addiction among such patients about 50%. This, the doctor noted, is very alarming because drug use can lead to brain deterioration in people with mental disorders. Potvin’s study showed the how the brain’s pleasure/reward center, deteriorates in drug-using schizophrenic individuals and how the same region was not affected among patients who did not use drugs.
This brain anomaly, the doctor noted, can be seen from two sides. It is one possible explanation to why people with schizophrenia are more vulnerable to the effects of drugs and alternatively, it is can be a proof that drug use changes brain structures.
The doctor also clarified that the relationship between schizophrenia and drug abuse is not very clear. “But drug use is known to be a risk factor for those suffering from schizophrenia,” he added. “Not everyone who smokes a joint will become schizophrenic. Many people smoke pot without suffering psychosis. But a schizophrenic who has one joint or even one puff, that’s enough to send them to the ER.”
Based from the results of his study, Dr. Potvin is advocating more support to be given to people with co-occurring drug addiction problem and mental illnesses. At present, a lot of individuals with co-occurring disorders do not receive effective treatment because there are few drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers who offer an integrated program for co-occurring disorders.
Miramar Recovery Center is one the few rehabilitation facilities who offer comprehensive treatment programs for people suffering from co-occurring disorders. Along with holistic drug and alcohol addiction treatment program, we also have a special treatment plan for drug dependents suffering from psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and others.