Tag Archives: alcohol abuse

sober during holidays

Staying Sober During the Holidays

Avoiding Relapse During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us once again. This time of year brings about many joyful opportunities for gathering together with friends and family members to enjoy food, fun, and laughter. However, for many who were once addicted to alcohol or other substances, the holiday season can prove to be a difficult time as well.

It can be difficult for many people who were once addicted to harmful substances to remain sober during a time when stress and many temptations abound. However, with a plan of action in place, it is possible to fight off temptations and remain sober during this trying time of year. The following tips have been gathered to help you remain sober during the holidays and get your new year off to the best and healthiest start.

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What Makes the Holiday Season Difficult for Many People in Recovery

The holiday season is something many people look forward to. It is a time of excitement, cheer, and happiness for most of us. However, there are certain things about this time of year that can trigger a person in recovery to drink or use a substance again. These temptations might include the following triggers or events.

Added Stress During the Holidays

Shopping for gifts for loved ones, making last minute travel plans, and having a house full of loud relatives can add to the already present stress of everyday life. Add in grocery shopping and cooking an elaborate meal for close friends and family and you have the recipe for a very stressful period of time. Handling stress and not letting it build up is an important part of maintaining control of the situation and your reaction to the events that occur. Sometimes controlling how you react to the situation is all you can do, so it’s vital to have proper ways in which to manage stress to help prevent relapse.

Running into Negative Associates

Whenever someone who is addicted to alcohol or other substances seeks proper treatment, part of the recovery plan usually involves creating a new circle of friends and avoiding those they once abused substances with. While attending holiday parties and other gatherings, it is possible that you may run into people you once spent time with when you were actively abusing alcohol or other substances. For many people, this may bring back memories that can create a strong desire to engage in those negative behaviors once again. Having a plan in place for proper ways to handle these temptations before they occur is an important part of triumphing over them.

Temptations at Gatherings

Holiday parties and gatherings usually include both food and alcohol. Just the mere presence of alcohol can be a reminder of the sensations you experienced when you were consuming it regularly. Therefore, it is important to realize ahead of time that these types of gatherings will almost always include alcohol. A support system that you can rely on to distract you from temptations can be helpful. Knowing your limits and weaknesses can also be beneficial. If you feel being confronted with the temptation of alcohol at parties will be too strong, it may be best to avoid attending them at all.

Tips for Remaining Sober During the Holidays

Having a proper plan in place for dealing with the previously mentioned temptations is an important part of overcoming them. The following tips can give you a good idea of different ways to start formulating a plan for remaining sober this holiday season.

Keep Your Distance from Negative Locations or People

Bumping into people you once spent time with while you were engaging in destructive patterns of drinking could potentially set off emotions that can create temptations to drink again. If you know the areas that these people tend to gather, it is best to avoid them altogether. It is even better if you can arrange to spend time with new friends that help you fight the temptations to drink.

Create New and Healthy Traditions

Replacing old patterns of destructive behavior with new and healthy holiday traditions can help you overcome memories and fight off temptations to engage in these actions again. Starting new traditions will give you something exciting to look forward to each holiday season as you create new memories with your loved ones.

Attend Support Meetings or Groups

Support groups can be a huge blessing during the holiday season. It can be very helpful to associate with others who have overcome their addictions just like you. These individuals know firsthand how hard it can be to fight off temptations during the holidays. Their empathy and understanding can go far towards helping you feel a level of support that will prove encouraging all season long.

Create a Network of Support

Creating a strong network of individuals who understand the temptations this season can create will be beneficial for you as well. Knowing their support is just a phone call away can offer the strength and peace of mind you need to have confidence in your ability to remain sober.

Get Adequate Sleep

Adequate sleep, along with the support provided by nutritious foods and moderate exercise, can go a long way toward strengthening your resolve to stay sober. Sleep deprivation, while common during this time of the year, can weaken your resolve to decline tempting activities, events, or invitations. Taking care of the physical needs of your body and mind is an important part of remaining emotionally strong.

Start the New Year in Continued Recovery

You fought long and hard to break free from the chains of alcohol addiction. You probably attended a treatment program, completely changed many aspects of your life, and endured the difficult time of detoxing your body from the effects of alcohol abuse. Remember the things that you have gone through and how hard you have fought to achieve sobriety. Keeping this journey fresh in your mind can help you fight temptations and remain strong this holiday season and all the ones still to come.

never drinking again

Another Sunday of “Never Drinking Again?”

Spending Another Saturday or Sunday Hungover? Weekend Binge-Drinking Is a Serious Issue

“Ugh, I feel awful. I’m never drinking again.”

How many times have you mumbled something similar after waking up with a hangover? You have good intentions when you claim you’re never going to drink again, so you believe your declaration of sobriety. Unfortunately, you find yourself dealing with the hangover/hungover cycle again next weekend…and the weekend after that.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You can break your weekend binge-drinking habit with help from supportive, compassionate people who understand your situation.

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What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking refers to heavy drinking that quickly raises a man or woman’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) to a percentage of 0.08 grams or higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this usually occurs when a woman has more than 4 alcoholic beverages or a man has more than 5 alcoholic drinks in a 2-hour period.

Binge drinking is common at parties, bars, and events centered around alcohol. Some adults mindlessly consume multiple drinks as they socialize, dance, or snack on appetizers. Other folks intentionally down alcoholic beverages during drinking games, such as beer pong or Quarters.

Does binge drinking each weekend make me an alcoholic?

Not all binge drinkers are alcoholics. The CDC states that approximately 90% of heavy drinkers do not have an alcohol use disorder. (Alcoholism is an example of an alcohol use disorder.) However, that does leave approximately 10% of heavy drinkers that DO have an alcohol use disorder.

Why is binge drinking bad?

There are numerous risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, including:

  • Vehicular crashes
  • Abnormal and/or inappropriate behavior
  • Injuries
  • Alcohol poisoning

Drinking heavily may lower your inhibitions, making you more likely to engage in activities you would normally avoid. Some potential side effects of excessive drinking, such as liver damage and memory issues, may not appear immediately.

Can a teen have a binge-drinking problem?

Binge drinking affects people of all ages, including teens and preteens. One out of every 5 drinkers are under the age of 21, and 13% of underage drinkers admit they have had recent episodes of binge drinking.

What should I do if someone I love is a weekend binge drinker?

It’s difficult to watch a loved one battle hangovers or other unwanted side effects caused by binge drinking. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s drinking, don’t lecture her or criticize her actions. Invite her to attend alcohol-free events with you, and let her know that you’re happy to lend an ear if she ever wants to talk about her drinking. Don’t press the issue; you don’t want to push your loved one away.

How do I know if I’m drinking too much?

Ask trusted friends or family members how they feel about your drinking, but keep in mind that some loved ones may sugarcoat potential issues to avoid conflict. Make a list of how your drinking affects your life. It may help to track what, how much, and when you drink on a calendar.

After tracking your alcohol consumption, do you notice a pattern of hangovers, fights with your significant other, or missed shifts at work? These are all signs that your weekend drinking habits are impacting your life in a negative way.

If I have a problem with binge drinking, does that mean I have to give up drinking forever?

This is a common concern that people who consider giving up alcohol completely. It’s difficult to imagine an alcohol-free life, especially if your social outings or business meetings frequently involve alcoholic beverages or if those around you would not be willing to cut out alcohol during gatherings.

Some binge drinkers become dependent on alcohol, so they decide it’s best to adopt a sober lifestyle. There are also people who successfully modify their drinking habits without permanently giving up alcohol. An alcohol abuse specialist can help you decide if you should limit or eliminate alcohol consumption.

You can have fun without alcohol, but adjusting to sobriety takes time. If you decide to quit drinking, make sure you surround yourself with encouraging people who support your path toward sobriety. You deserve a happy, healthy and rewarding life.

happy life not hungover

impact of addiction on family

The Impact of Addiction on Family

How Addiction Affects a Family

Addiction affects not only the life of the person struggling with addiction but also the lives of everyone he or she cares about. Families can suffer the effects of addiction emotionally, financially and even physically. In some cases, family members may be inadvertently contributing to an individual’s addictive behaviors. By learning to understand how addiction can impact a family, you can be prepared to offer your loved one the support he or she needs while protecting yourself and the others you care about.
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How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Family Ties

When a person is struggling with addiction, getting the next fix becomes their top priority. The disease of addiction can lead a person to do things that are otherwise out of character, and these behaviors can put a serious strain on family relationships.

In pursuit of feeding their addictions, addicts may:

  • Lie or fail to keep promises
  • Borrow or even steal money from family to pay for the addictive substance
  • Be unreliable and struggle to meet family commitments
  • Forget about important duties or become distracted
  • Engage in illegal behaviors

Addicts may struggle to maintain employment as a result of their addiction, leading to additional financial strain for themselves and their families. Addicts may also suffer mood swings and other uncharacteristic behavior as a result of a substance’s effects or the effects of withdrawal if they cannot get a regular fix.

All of these issues can quickly compound to create a hostile environment at home.

The Impact of Addiction on Children

Addiction has an especially powerful effect on families when the addict is a parent. Children require care and attention, but the disease of addiction can take away a parent’s time and ability to care for his or her family.

Parents struggling with addiction may forget to take care of their own needs and the needs of their children. This may include missing meals, forgetting to pick kids up from school or failing to keep up with laundry and other chores.

Additionally, it may be unsafe for the children to be around the addicted parent. Mood swings and poor judgment can lead to explosive outbursts, and a parent caught up in the effects of drugs or alcohol may not be alert enough to protect children from dangers around the home. Sadly, there is also the risk that the parent may overdose in the presence of their child, putting their child in serious danger as well.

If only one parent is an addict, the other parent may experience significant stress while trying to deal with family responsibilities alone. This can put stress on the marriage, creating domestic turmoil at home that may affect the children as well.

For these reasons and more, children feel the impact of family addiction very strongly. Kids growing up in these conditions are more likely to face drug and alcohol problems of their own later in life.

Getting Help for Addicted Family Members

Most people who struggle with addiction do not want to hurt their families. However, they may be unable to break the habits and behaviors on their own. Similarly, family members are poorly equipped to handle the realities of addiction on their own.

Love is not enough to overcome the power of addiction, and loving family members run the risk of enabling the addiction further by continuing to provide financial support or shouldering the consequences of an addict’s actions. For this reason, it is important to seek the help of qualified professionals outside of the family.

A professional intervention followed by drug treatment can help your loved one get the help he or she needs without putting further stress and risk upon your family. Together, you can work toward healing and recovering from the addiction and its effects on those you love.

SOURCE:

drugabuse.gov

How Drinking Too Much Can Affect Your Finances

How Drinking Can Impact Your Finances

Many people do not realize the extent of their drinking problem until it begins to negatively affect other aspects of their lives. Consequences like lost work, strained family relationships and damaged health are common side effects of alcoholism. However, another common and frequently overlooked problem is the effect of drinking on your finances.

You may not realize that problem drinking is negatively impacting your financial wellbeing until the effects have become severe. If you are a frequent drinker, it’s worth looking at both the obvious and hidden costs of too much drinking.

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drinking impacts finances

How Can Drinking Impact Finances?

The first and most obvious expense associated with frequent drinking is the cost of alcohol itself. If you go to a bar to drink socially, you can usually expect to pay $5-9 per drink. If you get two drinks per night, three days a week, you’re looking at $120 to $216 a month. If you drink more frequently or tend to binge-drink with four or five drinks per sitting, this number can easily double.

Even staying home and drinking can quickly become expensive. A six-pack of beer may cost around $5 to $15, depending on the brand, and you may go through two or three of these per week. Hard liquor, wine and other beverages can cost more.

As you can see, the occasional drink won’t break the bank. However, making a habit of drinking regularly or drinking too much can snowball into a much larger bill.

Drinking too much impacts your finances in other ways as well:

  1. You may be tempted to spend unwisely while under the influence. You may purchase rounds of drinks for friends or strangers in the bar, or you might order extra food and snacks. People drinking at home may be tempted to make online purchases or other expenditures that they otherwise would not have considered.
  2. Your work productivity can suffer. People who drink frequently are more likely to call into work or show up sick or under-slept. These can damage productivity and, over time, affect overall job performance and opportunities.
  3. Your medical expenses may rise. Alcohol can affect your immune system, leaving you more prone to getting sick. Alcohol-related problems, including issues with the liver and pancreas, can build over time and lead to costly medical expenses.

Excessive drinking also impacts the community. The CDC estimates that excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006. These costs were attributed to:

  • Lost workplace productivity
  • Healthcare expenses
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Criminal justice expenses

The primary culprits in the study were binge drinkers, or those who drink more than 4 or 5 drinks per occasion. One in six people binge drink, and binge drinking accounts for 76 percent of costs associated with excessive drinking. 

Is Drinking Affecting Your Wallet?

Spending a lot of money on alcohol does not necessarily make you an alcoholic, but it is often a warning sing that your drinking has become problematic. It’s a good idea to sit down with your bank statements or receipts and tally up the real cost of your drinking. Consider:

  • The cost of drinks purchased in bars or consumed at home
  • The cost of purchases made under the influence of alcohol
  • The cost of cab fare or other related expenses

Also take an honest look at your recent work history. If you have had to call into work in order to nurse a hang over on more than one occasion, that could be another sign of excessive drinking.

If your drinking has led to problems with your finances or is otherwise impacting your lifestyle but you don’t know how to stop, it may be time to seek professional assistance. We can help. Contact Desert Cove Recovery today for more information.

SOURCES:
http://theweek.com/articles/457336/how-drinking-much-sabotages-finances
https://www.cdc.gov/features/alcoholconsumption/

A Closer Look at Effects of Alcohol on Men and Women

Effects of Alcohol on Men and WomenScience is constantly evolving and shedding light on previous misconceptions or questions. And in the case of alcohol, a new study has shown how men and women react differently to the substance, specifically in their brains. After conducting a small group study on men and women who fit the criteria for heavy drinkers, but not alcohol abuse, the researchers were able to note a major difference between the two sexes in the type of receptors that were influenced when alcohol was consumed.

GABA receptors are responsible for shutting off brain activity, they are integral in preventing anxiety and problems with these receptors often lead to depression. There are two specific GABA receptors, GABA-A and GABA-B. GABA-A is thought to have more of a connection to drinking patterns, while GABA-B has been found to be responsible for the desire for alcohol.

“Generally, our work showed that alcohol causes more pronounced changes in both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in men than women. There are two types of GABA receptors, A and B. Long-term alcohol use affects neurotransmission through both types in males, but only one type, GABA-A, is affected in females,” explained Outi Kaarre, lead author of the study.

The findings were presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference earlier this month in France.

So, if men who are considered to be heavy drinkers show more activity in both A and B GABA receptors, while women who are drinkers only show activity in GABA-A receptors, what does this mean for alcohol medications and theories of addiction?

First of all, there are certain medications that have been designed to help alcoholics curb their cravings, but these medications have not reliably worked on women. This may be because the medications are geared to the GABA-B receptors, which do not appear to be a problem in female heavy drinkers. Secondly, this new information may shed more light on why women become heavy drinkers, and why men are more prone to becoming heavy drinkers, and the reasons may not be the same for both sexes.

Understanding this difference could change the approach to alcoholism treatment and medications, especially as science continues to advance in the understanding of the intricacies of our bodies and minds.

If you have a loved one struggling with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, contact Desert Cove today to find out more about our treatment program and how we can help.

Drug Abuse Linked to Financial Problems

Unemployment can be a very unstable, scary time for people. Without the promise of work, many fall into a depression that is difficult to get out of. And now a new study shows that illicit drug use is also more common for people who are unemployed. Despite not having income, drugs are still being purchased and used at higher rates than people who have steady work.

A new study released by researchers in the Netherlands shows that they psychological stress of not having a job is more powerful than reduced or no income, and the stress is what causes people to seek out drugs and alcohol. The researchers focused on 17 different types of reports from several different countries. Ten of the reports were composed of information from the American workforce. After reviewing all the data, the team was surprised that the psychological factors were a more powerful motivator for drug use than lack of money was for deterring a person from using drugs. And in extreme cases where money was an issue, many users simply switched their drug of choice to a cheaper alternative, but still maintained their drug-using lifestyle.

“In our literature review, we were particularly interested in the mechanisms that explain the relationship between unemployment and illegal drug use. We found supportive evidence for one of the mechanisms that we hypothesized. It seems that unemployment increases psychological distress and that distress increases illegal drug use,” explained Dr. Gera Nagelhout, the lead author of the study that was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Nagelhout suggests that more funding and research focus on the psychological effects of unemployment so as to better help those who find themselves without employment. Forging a new path between unemployment and better mental health could be imperative in preventing these people from leading a life of drug use and addiction. As the country continues to struggle with ways to prevent the painkiller and opioid epidemic from claiming more lives, this is one area where more research and understanding is needed.

Alcohol Abuse and Gun Crime Related, New Study Finds

Alcohol Abuse and Gun CrimeNew research shows that gun owners who have prior convictions for alcohol-related offenses, such as drunk and disorderly conduct or DUI (driving under the influence) are as many as five times as likely to be arrested for a firearms-related or violent crime than those who have not.

The study was undertaken by a research team from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. It found that a prior conviction for a crime that involved alcohol was a much higher indication of future violent behavior for a person than a conviction for most any other type of crime. The researchers included other violent ones in their scope before coming to this conclusion.

Study Looked at Criminal Records of Gun Owners

The study examined the criminal records of more then 4,000 gun owners in California who bought a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer in the year 1977. During the next 14 years, close to one-third of the buyers (32.8 percent) with previous convictions for alcohol-related offenses went on to either commit a firearm-related or violent crime.

Approximately 16 percent of the offenders were arrested for robbery, rape, murder or aggravated assault. The researchers found that gun owners who had no criminal record when they bought their weapon were much less likely to commit a crime. The study revealed that only 5.7 percent of gun owners in this category were arrested for a gun-related or a violent crime; only 3 percent were charged with a serious violent crime.

Previous Studies Linked Alcohol Use and Gun Offenses

Previous studies have also linked alcohol use and gun-related offenses. One meta-study analyzed information from over 28,000 homicide offenders from nine countries. It found that, on average, nearly half of homicide offenders (48 percent) were under the influence of alcohol at the time they committed their offense. The study also found that 38 percent of the offenders were intoxicated.

The study found no demographic variations with regard to age, race or gender. The number of offenders who where under the influence of alcohol was lower among those who committed a crime with a firearm. The researchers concluded that communities with high homicide rates should take steps to lower rates of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Abuse Linked to Heart Attack Risk

The results of a new study suggest that there is a link between alcohol abuse and heart issues, which are a leading cause of death worldwide. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that alcohol abuse increases the odds that a person will develop a heart attack, congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, senior author of the study and the director clinical research in Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that one of the most surprising findings was the link between alcohol abuse and increased risk of heart attack. In the past, research had suggested that moderate drinking could help to ward off cardiac episodes.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, the director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that the media and scientists have focused their attention on the benefits of alcohol use. News items, such as pointing out that drinking a glass of wine each day to reap the benefits of resveratrol, only give people one part of the story of alcohol. Dr. Steinbaum stated the results of the new study are clear.

She went on to say that past stories have “almost glamorized” alcohol use and made it something that can help people live a heart-healthy life. Instead, drinking to excess leads to negative heart conditions. Alcohol abuse is toxic, and not something that should be glamorized at all.

Marcus and his team looked at the medical records of more than 14 million patients as part of their research. Of these patients, approximately 268,000 or 1.8 percent had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse. No specified cutoff or level of alcohol was mentioned in the study.

For the purposes of the study, “alcohol abuse” was defined as being instances where a health care provider had flagged a patient as having an issue with excessive alcohol use. The problem could be either an acute (coming to an appointment drunk) or a chronic one (being addicted to alcohol).

According to the survey results, alcohol abuse doubles the risk of atrial fibrillation. It increases the risk of heart attack by 1.4 and raises the likelihood of developing congestive heart failure 2.3-fold. It doesn’t matter whether someone has any of the conventional risk factors for heart disease; alcohol abuse increases the risk in every instance, according to Marcus and his team of researchers.

Study Suggests Routine Drug Screening Should be Part of Primary Health Care

A new study by researchers at UCLA is calling for routine drug screenings to be held in primary care settings in areas where drug misuse may be of concern. The researchers found that nearly 20 percent of respondents who answered a computerized, self-administered survey in community clinics in East Los Angeles said that they were involved in moderate-to-high rates of drug use. In Tijuana, Mexico, when a similar survey was conducted, the number was only around six percent. Both survey results were much higher than household surveys that were conducted in the same areas.

Patient Counseling Can Help Reduce Drug Abuse and Addiction

The study results were published in Substance Use and Misuse, a peer-reviewed journal. They were part of a larger study of an intervention that showed how counseling in primary care settings could help to reduce drug abuse and addiction for patients.

A total of 2,507 adult patients in Los Angeles and 2,890 in Tijuana participated in the study. The participants, who were eligible for the World Health Organization’s Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test, used a computer tablet with a touch screen to anonymously fill out the survey while in the clinic waiting room. They were also asked questions about chronic illness, healthy eating and exercise as well as drug and alcohol use.

Drug Use was Higher than Expected Among Study Participants

Researchers had expected that alcohol would be a bigger problem for patients in this population group and that drug use would be lower, according to Dr. Lillian Gelberg, the study’s lead investigator. Dr. Gelberg is a professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She noted that the problem with drug use was “very similar to problem alcohol use.”

The results of the study found that moderate-to-high alcohol use was over 15 percent in East Los Angeles. In Tijuana, it was less than 7 percent. Moderate-to-high tobacco use was 20 percent in East Los Angeles, and slightly lower in Tijuana at 16 percent.

Studies like this help to get a more rounded picture of the amount and types of substances being used in among various populations. In a time when we are losing record numbers of people to overdoses, we need all the help we can get, especially at primary care physicians.

Illicit Drug and Alcohol Use Linked to Schizophrenia Risk: Study

substance abuse and shizophreniaThe results of new research released at the annual International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) meeting in Milan, Italy in October. They indicate that illicit drug and alcohol use can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. The study was conducted by Dr Stine Mai Nielsen and Professor Merete Nordentoft of the Copenhagen University Hospital, Mental Health Center Copenhagen in Gentofte, Denmark, and their colleagues.

In the past, research has focused on potential links between addiction and this major mental illness. Due to limitations in study methods used in previous research, it had remained uncertain whether a link existed.

In the Copenhagen University study, researchers were able to establish a group of more than three million people to study. Of these, 204,505 had substance abuse issues and 21,305 had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Study Results Found Increased Risk of Dual Diagnosis Developing Later

The study authors found that when someone is diagnosed with a substance abuse issue, their risk of developing schizophrenia also increases. The risk factors break down as follows:

  • Any substance – 6 times
  • Cannabis – 5.2 times
  • Alcohol – 3.4 times
  • Hallucinogens – 1.9 times
  • Sedatives – 1.7 times
  • Amphetamines – 1.24 times
  • Other substances – 2.8 times

The authors stated, “The increased risk was found to be significant even 10 to 15 years after a diagnosis of substance abuse. Our results illustrate robust associations between almost any type of substance abuse and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.”

They went to say that it was impossible to state with certainty whether alcohol or substance abuse causes the schizophrenia. People who are at higher risk of developing this type of mental health concern may be more likely to turn to substances to self-medicate. It’s also possible that the same person could be at higher risk for both substance abuse and schizophrenia and develop both conditions. Each of these explanations could be correct, and the relationship between substance abuse and schizophrenia is a complicated one.

If you or a loved one are living with a substance abuse issue and a mental health concern, help is available. Contact us today for more information about our dual diagnosis treatment options.