Meth Use Linked to Schizophrenia
The popular stimulant drug, methamphetamine, could now have more repercussions than thought before. In a new study in Canada, research shows that meth users are at higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it harder to tell the difference between what is real and what is not. Some symptoms of schizophrenia include social withdrawal, loss of appetite, strong anxiety, loss of hygiene, hallucinations, delusions, and the sensation of being controlled from outside forces.
When looking at a person with schizophrenia, you might not be able to tell they are ill, but usually the bizarre behaviors are a clear indicator. To make a diagnosis of schizophrenia, a psychiatrist uses tests to evaluate symptoms and medical history. Usually medication can be prescribed, as well as psychotherapy.
Methamphetamine is one of the most common types of illicit drugs. It is available in many different forms, such as a powder, a pill or a crystal and can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed. Users first feel on top of the world, and then take a turn for the worst, and crash. This stimulant, also known as tina, crank, croak, crypto, crystal ice, fire, glass, meth, tweek and white cross, can be extremely dangerous and have many lasting effects.
Researchers at Toronto’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health looked at the hospital records in California from 1999 to 2000. They focused in on patients that were diagnosed with having an addiction to the drugs methamphetamine, alcohol, cannabis, opioids or cocaine. Records were disqualified from this study if the patients were reliant on multiple drugs or were diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis during a stay at the hospital.
Readmission records were then analyzed for up to 10 years after a first admission, and the patients with schizophrenia, in every drug group, were recorded.
Dr. Russ Callaghan, CAMH scientist and leader of the study, shared in a statement that they revealed that people who were hospitalized for an addiction to methamphetamine, but not for schizophrenia, had a 1.5- to 3-fold risk of later being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
It was also stated that the risk of schizophrenia in meth users was similar to those who use marijuana regularly. The causes might be due to the repeated use of the drugs that can trigger dormant schizophrenia through sensitizing the brain to dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, as well as helps regulate emotional responses.
Although researchers don’t exactly understand how these illicit drugs can cause schizophrenia, they are hoping the future research will solve many unanswered questions.