Schizophrenia can have a devastating effect on both patients and their families.
Substance Abuse. Many people with schizophrenia abuse alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse, in addition to its other adverse effects, increases the likelihood that a patient will not take medication and have more severe symptoms. Although people with schizophrenia are not usually violent, (except possibly those who have severe paranoid), substance abuse in the schizophrenic patient increases the risk for violence.
Nicotine dependence is the most common form of substance abuse among people with schizophrenia. Most patients with schizophrenia smoke. Biologic and genetic factors associated with schizophrenia may play a role. Although smoking may be a form of self-medication in controlling symptoms, smoking can interfere with some types of antipsychotic medication.
Suicide. Patients with schizophrenia have an increased risk for suicide and suicidal behavior. About 10% of patients with schizophrenia commit suicide. Clinical depression is common among people with schizophrenia. The stresses of dealing with social isolation, discrimination, and stigma can also be factors.
Review Date: 01/27/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.