How do drug abuse symptoms mimic schizophrenia?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that some people addicted to drugs display similar behaviors as those with schizophrenia. For this reason, doctors often screen for drug and alcohol abuse when diagnosing schizophrenia. Symptoms of drug abuse that may mirror symptoms of schizophrenia include:
  • having a dirty, unkempt appearance
  • withdrawing from friends, social engagements, work or school
  • odd or drastic changes in behavior, including aggressive behavior
  • poor concentration
  • delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia
  • changes in speech
  • memory problems
  • confusion
  • tremors
Doctors should also be aware that substance abuse problems are more common in people with schizophrenia. Further, some drugs may increase the symptoms of schizophrenia in people with the disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.