Alcohol abuse leads to the defeat of all body systems. In this case, the brain suffers no less than the kidneys, liver, or heart. According to statistics, a quarter of people with alcoholism have signs of schizophrenia. In this case, the latter can be both a consequence and a cause of binges. Scientists have long studied the relationship between these two phenomena. In the article, we will tell you how alcoholic schizophrenia arises, manifests itself, and is treated.

alcoholic schizophrenia

Formulation of the problem

There are two points of view on the relationship of alcohol dependence with schizophrenia. According to the first, psychiatric disease is formed against the background of alcoholism. The latter causes severe brain damage, which is accompanied by hallucinations, delusions, speech disorders, and impaired motor activity. If a person has a hereditary predisposition to schizophrenia, then alcohol abuse can serve as an impetus for its occurrence.

According to the second point of view, alcoholism often becomes a consequence of the development of mental illness. The fact is that a person in a state of psychosis, delirium, stress, or depression often chooses alcohol to relax and unwind. Moreover, sometimes alcohol really helps to eliminate hallucinations and delusions, as it triggers the “braking” system of the brain. However, the condition may worsen later. Doctors face two problems at once: the withdrawal from hard drinking and the treatment of schizophrenia.

In all cases, alcoholic schizophrenia is difficult, and its course is unfavorable. This is due, first of all, to the fact that remission in alcoholism is extremely unstable. Psychosis can worsen at any time, as soon as a person goes into a binge. At the same time, even the most insignificant factor can provoke another “spree”. As a result, a person and his environment are almost always at risk.

 

Cause of Alcoholic Schizophrenia

Ethyl alcohol and its decay products have a strong effect on nerve cells. Schizophrenia, in principle, is a consequence of a malfunction of the neurotransmitters that provide communication between brain neurons. Moreover, any damage to it can lead to various diseases, including psychiatric ones.

Alcohol weakens the cells and the signals between them, as a result of which they cannot fully function. In simple terms, strong inhibition occurs in the hemispheres of the brain. This can serve as a provoking factor for the development of schizophrenia or exacerbation if the diagnosis is already available.

Also, frequent alcohol consumption causes emptiness, leads to depression, lack of initiative, and apathy. During periods of remission, a person is irritable or even angry. Similar symptoms are also characteristic of schizophrenic disorders of various types. Therefore, if an alcoholic has a predisposition to schizophrenia, then the risk of its occurrence increases with the development of alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is also almost 50% genetically determined. If you have people in your family who have experienced mental pathologies and a tendency to alcohol, you should exclude them from your life. Otherwise, the risk of getting alcoholic schizophrenia doubles.

 

Classifications of Alcoholic Schizophrenia

Alcoholic schizophrenia is divided into types for several reasons. One of them is the nature of the course of the disease. According to this indicator, the following types of pathology are distinguished:

  • Unfavorable – proceeds rapidly with pronounced symptoms. The patient is rapidly degrading, and the disintegration of the personality is inevitable.
  • Continuous – schizophrenia develops in a chronic form, which is characterized by a change in periods of exacerbation and remission.
  • Paroxysmal – the disorder manifests itself only once in a lifetime.

Paroxysmal progredient – the disease proceeds with alternating attacks and remissions, however, with each exacerbation of symptoms, there are more and more symptoms, which ultimately leads to the disintegration of the personality.

The nature of the course of alcoholic schizophrenia is influenced mainly by the frequency of alcohol consumption, as well as the quantity and quality of the drink.

With true alcoholic schizophrenia, the first attack occurs against the background of severe intoxication.

According to the severity of symptoms, this pathology is divided into two types:

  • Paranoid, which is accompanied by vivid hallucinations and delusions.
  • Sluggish, in which the patient behaves inappropriately only during binges.
Another classification is based on the dominant symptom. According to her, alcoholic schizophrenia is divided into such varieties as:
  • Delirium tremens is a state of alcoholic delirium after a long drinking bout. Manifested in speech disorders, spatial disorientation, and hallucinations of an aggressive nature. The patient is very afraid for his life. He can be afraid of both people and otherworldly forces (“devils”). At night, a person cannot sleep, and if he falls asleep, he is tormented by nightmares; during the day he walks sluggish and tired. The delirium ends with a long sleep.
  • Hallucinosis – is accompanied by hallucinations, loss of touch with reality, and delirium, which is usually associated with persecution and conspiracies. Often a person in this state hears voices that scold, scold him and, in general, are aggressive. Often this leads to an attack by the patient on others.
  • Delusional psychosis is characterized by increased motor activity, anxiety, and aggressiveness. The patient is constantly in an excited state, so he often gets into fights.

As you can see, these symptoms are not very different from the signs of some forms of schizophrenia. The alcoholic form is not distinguished into a separate variety according to ICD-10. Sometimes it is simply called a condition, not a disease.

The presence of two or more types of disorders in a patient is called comorbidity.

If a person already suffers from mental disorders, but at the same time abuses alcohol, his seizures will occur more often. However, the history will not record alcoholic schizophrenia, but another diagnosis, such as paranoid, paroxysmal, indolent, or catatonic schizophrenia.

 

Symptoms of Alcoholic Schizophrenia

Often the first signs of alcoholic schizophrenia appear 5-7 years after the first binge. The symptomatology, which is partially described earlier, is determined by the type of disease, and the following symptoms most often become its precursors:

  • Apathy, depression;
  • Sleep disturbances, nightmares;
  • Causeless anxiety;
  • Increased irritability;
  • Memory losses;
  • Suicidal thoughts;
  • Cognitive decline.

There will be more and more signs in the future. Gradually, symptoms such as:

  • Persecution mania;
  • Tremor and convulsions;
  • Repetition of movements and words;
  • Abrupt mood swings;
  • Suicidal attempts;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Catatonic disorders;
  • Big gaps in memory.

If a patient has both schizophrenia and alcoholism, his life expectancy is on average reduced by 10-15 years.

 

Patterns of Alcoholic Schizophrenia

Doctors have identified the following patterns associated with schizophrenia due to alcoholism:

  • 25% of patients have one episode of the disease, another 25% have a chronic course.
  • The remaining 50% have the opportunity to join both the first and second groups. It depends on whether they stop drinking alcohol.
  • If alcoholic schizophrenia manifests itself at a very young age, its consequences will be more devastating.
  • It is much easier to treat a disease that is acute because it has clear signs than a chronic disease, which is more insidious because of the latency of symptoms.
  • Alcoholic schizophrenia occurs in the same way in men and women, but the former suffer from it more often, since, in principle, they consume more alcohol.

In general, against the background of addictions, almost 80% of patients develop certain mental disorders.

 

Treatment of Alcoholic Schizophrenia

Treatment of schizophrenia with addictions, that is, various kinds of addictions, is difficult and long. It is necessary to connect additional specialists. Due to constant breakdowns, remissions will be shorter and shorter, and attacks more intense. At the same time, practice shows that treating each pathology separately is ineffective. The patient should be hospitalized in a clinic in which both a psychiatrist and a narcologist will observe him.

First, you need to get the patient out of a drunken state. In general, the following types of therapeutic measures are prescribed for alcoholics:

  • Detoxification is the removal of ethanol decay products from the body. Usually, patients are put on drips.
  • Immuno-strengthening therapy – the use of immunoprotection and vitamins. They also prescribe physiotherapy, proper nutrition, walks in the fresh air, etc.
  • Rehabilitation is further medical, psychotherapeutic, and psychological support for a person during remission to prolong it.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are stopped with the help of antipsychotics, tranquilizers, and other drugs, depending on the patient’s condition. However, all these measures will be effective only if the patient completely refuses alcohol.

As for coding, it does not bring results, since it is based on self-hypnosis, and schizophrenics easily overcome such barriers, that is, psychological prohibitions, in moments of life crises.

 

Forecast of the Alcoholic Schizophrenia

In severe brain damage, if the patient does not give up alcohol, a fatal outcome is possible. There is also a high probability of recognizing a person as incapacitated due to the unpredictability and aggressiveness of his behavior.

Each subsequent binge will lead to more severe conditions and more symptoms. With this lifestyle, many other diseases develop, from which alcoholics usually suffer. We are talking about cardiovascular pathologies, liver diseases, etc.

Suicide ends 5-10% of cases of schizophrenia. The risk is multiplied in the presence of dependencies.

Quitting alcohol completely will help prevent this. However, in schizophrenia, which is a very unpredictable disorder, even preventive measures do not always help to eliminate the possibility of a new attack.

Depending on the stage of remission, several predictions can be made:

  • There are no pronounced personality changes, a person does not lose professional skills, and it is possible to restore all mental functions.
  • There are residual symptoms, although weak, working capacity is restored, and regression is possible.
  • No criticism of his condition, there are residual signs, professional skills are lost, but the ability to perform simple household chores under supervision is retained.
  • Aggression is not expressed, the symptoms are mild, and the patient remains in a hospital, where he can work a little if he wants.
  • No therapeutic effect, symptoms remain severe, and further treatment is necessary.

Absolutely without trace alcoholism in schizophrenia does not go away. The patient will have cognitive impairments, and it is not possible to become healthy again, that is, to be cured forever, although there are cases when an attack is observed once in a lifetime. Much depends on the lifestyle of a person and the individual characteristics of the body.