The 17th-century Scottish philosopher, David Hume, once said, “It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place… It’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood.” This is what recovery is all about: Community. Exceptional and effective recovery should be a communal experience, because ultimately we are all here to help each other get through this journey we call life both unscathed and with excitement. This is also true for those of us coping with schizoaffective disorder in addiction recovery.
Managing Schizoaffective Disorder: The Prevalence of Co-Occurring Issues of Addiction and Mental Health
According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “13.5% of young adults aged 18 to 25 had both a substance use disorder and any mental illness in the past year.” Also, “Nearly one in three adults had either a substance use disorder or any mental illness in the past year, and [46%] of young adults 18-25 had either a substance use disorder or any mental illness.” Now, it is safe to say that these numbers are significant.
The number of people specifically with schizoaffective disorder and addiction is also significantly high. According to the article, Alcohol Use Disorder and Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder, “Among individuals who have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is common, and it contributes to worse outcomes than for those who do not have co-occurring substance use disorder.” Also, “Individuals with these psychotic disorders have three times the risk of heavy alcohol use relative to the general population.”
Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder
Many people miscategorize schizoaffective disorder as schizophrenia. This is inaccurate. While both conditions experience overlapping symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, schizoaffective disorder also has characteristics of mood disorders.
Two specific mood disorders make up the primary types of schizoaffective disorder. The first is bipolar disorder, including both I and II subtypes. In schizoaffective disorder, the bipolar symptoms that are present are mania and depression.
Now, the second type of mood disorder that makes up schizoaffective disorder is depression. These present themselves as deeper states of depression but they differ from the bipolar type in that they don’t present any symptoms of mania.
Managing Schizoaffective Disorder: The Warning Signs and Symptoms
Just as any other type of mental illness, schizoaffective disorder has certain universal signs and symptoms. Becoming familiar with the warning signs of this condition can be helpful for diagnosing and treating it. The following are just a few of those symptoms:
- Experiencing hallucinations, both audible and visual
- Having factually unrealistic delusions
- Exhibiting disorganized speech, disorganized thinking, and disorganized behaviors
- A lack of attention to personal hygiene
- Feeling overly energized and feeling like there is no need for sleep
- Being depressed and having extreme feelings of emptiness, sadness, and loneliness
- Having a lowered sex drive
- Losing interest in activities that were once enjoyed
Managing Schizoaffective Disorder: Being Diagnosed Before Addiction Recovery
It is not uncommon for co-occurring disorders to go unnoticed when first being diagnosed. This is especially true when it comes to issues of SUD and other co-occurring disorders.
The symptoms and signs of SUD can very much overlap those of other disorders, leading even professionals to mistake a dual diagnosis for a single diagnosis of SUD. This is no different in people who struggle with both schizoaffective disorder and SUD.
However, when a proper dual diagnosis is made it is important to follow a recovery plan that treats both disorders. This is also true when schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed while already in recovery.
Managing Schizoaffective Disorder: Being Diagnosed While in Addiction Recovery
Being diagnosed with a mental illness while in addiction recovery can often come as a shock. After all, didn’t they do all they had to do to get better? Of course, but ultimately it is a fallacy to think that being in recovery makes one immune to other issues of mental health.
One of the keys to handling a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder while in addiction recovery is to understand that, just like addiction, mental illness is never the person’s fault, but treating it is their responsibility. The other key is to listen to mental health professionals to incorporate the proper mental health care into an already existing addiction recovery plan.
Effectively Treating Dual Diagnosis at The Phoenix Recovery Center
Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we take our clients’ diagnoses seriously. This is because we know that a missed dual diagnosis can mean an unnecessarily arduous treatment journey and a recovery that could be riddled with relapses.
Yes, we understand that receiving a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder in recovery can be discouraging. However, it is important to remember that people who have recovered from addiction have gone through one of the most challenging things there is and beaten the odds. Knowing this, they must also know that they can handle anything else that comes their way, and they will become stronger for it.
If you or a loved one are struggling with issues of mental health and/or addiction, we can help. For more information, contact The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.