A serious mental health disorder characterized by a range of different intrusive symptoms, patients who are diagnosed with schizophrenia are usually prescribed medication to assist them in managing these symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), antipsychotic medications are the first line of pharmacological defense against symptoms of schizophrenia and similar disorders. The original antipsychotic meds, called typical antipsychotics, were first developed during the 1950s and include such medications as Thorazine and Haldol. These were effective but also highly sedative, and in the 1970s, a new type of antipsychotics, called atypical antipsychotics were introduced. These medications have been proven to be very effective in dealing with some of the most intrusive schizophrenia symptoms, including:
- Breaks with reality
Though medications can be a strong resource in helping a patient to improve his or her quality of life, they are not a cure for the disorder. Many still require a well-rounded treatment program that addresses all issues contributing to the person’s inability to function – including substance abuse.
Contact us today to learn more about the Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation programs that can help your loved one overcome co-occurring issues of schizophrenia and a substance abuse disorder.
Clozaril is the most commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotic medication in the treatment of schizophrenia. It can be very effective in the treatment of schizophrenia across patients, but it may also cause worrisome issues in some users.
One such problem unique to the medication is agranulocytosis. This disorder is defined by a loss of white blood cells, cells that are necessary to fight infection. Because of this issue, it is often necessary for patients to get their white blood cell levels checked every couple of weeks. It can translate into high cost and a scheduling hassle that many patients prefer to avoid – despite the fact that it is one of the most effective medications for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Other atypical antipsychotics may cause agranulocytosis, but it is less likely. They are also effective in the treatment of schizophrenia:
Side Effects and Risks
It’s not uncommon for patients to experience side effects when they take powerful antipsychotic medications. For some, it is well worth it. They would much rather deal with side effects than deal with the symptoms of schizophrenia. Their side effects may be mild and include:
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Skin rash
- Blurred vision
- Increased heart rate
- Occasional dizziness
For others, this is not the case. Their experience with side effects is almost as intrusive as ongoing symptoms of schizophrenia, and especially when the medication isn’t completely effective in eradicating symptoms, a number of patients go off their meds. More serious side effects can include:
- Muscle spasms
- Tremors or shaking
Substance Abuse and Schizophrenia
Though the medications prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia are not addictive, it is not uncommon for schizophrenia patients to struggle with substance abuse. Chronic abuse of drugs and alcohol and/ or addiction are most commonly found among patients who have an early age of onset of schizophrenia symptoms.
When multiple disorders co-exist, it is important that the patient seek treatment that addresses addiction and relapse prevention as well as the symptoms of schizophrenia. Ongoing drug and alcohol abuse can completely disrupt schizophrenia treatment, rendering it ineffective.
Call us at the phone number listed above today to get more details about the specific Dual Diagnosis rehab programs that will best serve your loved one in their fight for balance and wellness.
Further Reading About Medicine for Schizophrenia Treatment
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.