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Cannabis use disorder can cause schizophrenia in people with schizotypal disorder, says study
Posted in Dual diagnosis

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition characterized by an increased dependence or likeliness toward alcohol or drugs. Besides the multiple problems triggered due to the abuse of substances, a new research published online in JAMA Psychiatry in April 2018 evealed that SUD, particularly cannabis use disorder (CUD), can convert schizotypal disorder into schizophrenia.

Diagnosed in early adulthood, schizotypal disorder or schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) is a mental health condition wherein, people fail to respond to social cues due to persistent and chronic social anxiety, incorrect interpretation of events, bizarre perceptions, cognitive distortions, odd beliefs, suspiciousness or lack of close friends. On the other side, schizophrenia is a severe form of mental illness that alters the way a person thinks, feels or behaves by making him or her lose touch with reality.

It is essential to be aware of the reasons behind the risk of conversion from schizotypal disorder to schizophrenia. The findings of the latest study will play a pivotal role in resolving this riddle.

Highest conversion rates observed in people with cannabis use disorders

Conducted by Carsten Hjorthøj, Ph.D. from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark and his colleagues, the study included a sample of 2,539 individuals born in Denmark between Jan. 1, 1981 and Aug. 10, 2014. The participants had an incident diagnosis of schizotypal disorder, but no previous diagnosis of schizophrenia. On analyzing the data, some of the conclusions drawn were as follows:

  • Around 16.3 percent of the participants showed the signs of conversion to schizophrenia from schizotypal disorder after two years. This rate increased to about 33.1 percent after 20 years. Shockingly, it was as high as 58.2 percent among those with CUDs.
  • Different forms of SUDs have a connection with an individual’s conversion to schizophrenia in fully-adjusted models. The hazard ratio (HR) observed was 1.34.
  • The HR for amphetamine use disorders was 1.9 and opioid use disorders (OUDs) was 2.74 in a basically adjusted model.
  • No correlation was found between an individual’s conversion from schizotypal disorder to schizophrenia and the use of antipsychotics, functional level before incident schizotypal disorder or parental history of mental disorders.

Since the study outcomes are based on a limited data set, it is recommended by the researchers that the future studies should be based on a larger data sample and should also focus on additional factors like tobacco use. This data may also be used to offer better care to those dealing with schizotypal disorder and comorbid SUDs that may help curb the risk of conversion to schizophrenia.

Dual diagnosis is a critical illness

Schizophrenia is generally a lifelong struggle that commonly strikes individuals in the age group of 16 to 30 years. Though the risk is low, it can also affect children. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that the condition affects less than 1 percent of adults. It can lead to a number of negative effects, such as anger, fatigue, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, movement disorders, reduced feeling of pleasure, etc. Therefore, it is important to seek timely treatment from an expert to lower the risk of self-medication for alleviating pain. It is also important to not abuse any form of substance  to avoid the worsening of the mental condition due to the development of a comorbid disorder like SUD.

Sovereign Health is one of the leading providers of dual diagnosis treatment in the United States. With an experienced team of professionals and cutting-edge treatment plans, we ensure that the best form of treatment is offered to those affected by co-occurring disorders at one of our best dual diagnosis treatment centers. Call at our 24/7 helpline number and chat online with our admission counselors to get the complete details about our dual diagnosis rehab near your location.

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