Drugs and how they can affect people with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder

Okay, time to tackle this topic in this weeks blog. (I’ll probably be posting weekly on Sundays). The schizophrenia spectrum disorders and the correlation between acquiring the disorder and the drugs that potentially give a person a higher chance of this. Cannabis LSD, and amphetamines are by far the most common drugs that can cause an increased risk of becoming schizophrenic in the future. Some studies suggest that using Cannabis at the age of 15 can increase the risk of acquiring schizophrenia type disorders fourfold by the time you’re 26. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I had my experimental phase with Cannabis. I smoked for a month straight with my ex Caleb when I was 22 years old. I was also taking my antipsychotics at the time (Seroquil). And this experience has lead me to believe entirely that Cannabis can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. I didn’t get high. Not once. No change. Smoked several different types, from the crappiest to the stickiest and best I could find. No luck. After about a month, Caleb told me that I couldn’t smoke with him anymore as I was a “waste of weed”. I honestly was only doing it due to peer pressure, and quickly reverted back to the “I’ll tolerate it, but don’t try to push it upon me, I’m against doing it myself” person I was before that phase.

ANYWAYS, I firmly believe the research that backs it up because my medication (I’m assuming) blocked all the receptors that the THC would have locked on to, to give me that high feeling. But another experience I had when I was 19 years old and dating my first boyfriend, Wayne, was actually getting a contact buzz from when he would smoke around me. Those times I got a bit of a buzz from it, but I also wasn’t taking my medicine properly at all, not like I was when I was with Caleb in the earlier years of our relationship.

So there you have it. Taking Medicine=Nothing happened, and Not Taking Medicine=got a contact buzz. Obviously the Meds had something to do with me not getting high.

As for the other two drugs. LSD is a known very powerful and potent hallucinogen. It can cause vivid and powerful hallucinations, aka what people would call “tripping” on the drug. It can also cause horrifically scary ones, which people will refer to them as having a “bad trip”. My old therapist and psychiatrist both pretty much told me the same thing. My schizoaffective hallucinations were so powerful that I was having visual and auditory hallucinations all of the time. They said if i didn’t take the Meds, I’d continue to be on a permanent LSD trip.

I didn’t believe it at first, and had a hard time adjusting to the drugs they were giving me. It didn’t help that I was also prescribed an amphetamine named Concerta at the time. That, the doctors believed amplified my hallucinations. But they couldn’t take me off of it due to my narcolepsy. Perhaps it would have been better? I’d have had less hallucinations, but would have been sleeping all of the time and probably would never have finished high school. Anyways, that’s the third type of drug. Amphetamines such as cocaine, or the prescription ones used to treat narcolepsy and ADD/ADHD. They don’t necessarily cause schizophrenia type disorders, but they will amplify the hallucinations.

Anyways, the article I linked talks about a study that linked Cannabis to schizophrenia in a way they hadn’t really considered prior. They found out that it is (in part) genetic, and if you already have a genetic disposition to develop schizophrenia or someone in your family has it, then Cannabis can definitely increase your risk up to something like fifty fold of developing it. Probably not the best thing to do.

So in conclusion, if you like doing drugs and haven’t ever considered the consequences of them, know this: “Cannabis, LSD, and Amphetamines such as Cocaine can increase the risk greatly or exacerbate the development of schizophrenia in a person predisposed to it.” Families of people with schizophrenia, know that you can’t control or stop a person from using, as it’s their choice, the best thing you can do is educate them on the risks associated with doing it. I for one don’t care about Cannabis use, it starting to become legal in a better portion of the USA, but just understand what it can cause. A devastating disorder that can and will take over and destroy your life if you just let it go unchecked. There is help out there, all you have to do is ask for it.

Click this link to read further on this topic.

This My Story (A portion of it anyways)

That’s me, up there on the cover photo on the right. My name is Robert Smith, and I have schizoaffective disorder. That is a disorder of the mind that affects perceptions of reality and causes other mood symptoms such as manic or depressive stages. It’s causes are unknown, but there have been certain links to genetics, environment, and stress.

So, a little history on me to start this blog off. I was born in Willoughby, Ohio (I think, it was either that or painesville), to my loving parents. I grew up a generally happy child, from what I can remember, and at age five my parents had my sister.

When I was 10 years old, my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. After nearly three years, she succumbed to the disease. I was nearly thirteen when it happened. She was 39 years old.

The tragedy hit my family hard, and it certainly hit me very hard as well. When my dad woke me up the morning after she passed away, and told me what had transpired, I looked over from his lap and saw her sitting there, smiling.

That was the first hallucination I ever had.

Afterwards, as I grew older, my mind constructed a world of great detail and imagination. I was fairly immersed in that world, flipping from reality to fantasy day by day.

The grief counselors just said it was a coping mechanism to cope for the grief of losing my mother at such a young age and that it would go away eventually. They were wrong.

It didn’t go away, and it only got worse. The hallucinations devolved into much more vivid ones, as well as horrific ones. I started writing when I was 16. Trying to put my deranged delusions and thoughts onto paper.

When I was 17, during my chem course… I was doing some homework (an experiment) at home. It involves cutting pieces of fruit and weighing them on a scale. I don’t believe I’ve ever told anyone this, but while I was down in the basement, the hallucinations happened. One person I saw was telling me to take the blade I was using, and cut deep into my skin because it would free me from my pain and allow me to see my mother again.

I had the blade positioned and ready to cut, but then I heard a voice. Looking up, I saw my mother, whom at that point told me not to do it, and that everything would be okay, I’d make it through.

I don’t exactly remember what sparked my step-mom to get my dad to take me to a psychiatrist to get evaluated, but I did. When the results came back, my dad told me they were in, but didn’t tell me what they were. I asked him if I had schizophrenia. He said no.

Then a few weeks later I found the paperwork that specifically said I has a certain type of schizophrenia. It was schizoaffective disorder. I felt betrayed that my dad would lie to me and that I had to find out that way.

I began on medicine, but I was quite resistant to taking it in the beginning, hiding my pills, making it look like I had taken them, when in reality I had not.

As the years went by, and I grew up, my mentality changed. I knew the hallucinations were not real, and eventually I was able to recognize them for what they were.

Now I’m on a steady cocktail of medicine that works for me, and allows me to live highly functional lifestyle with my husband.

My goal with this blog is to help spread awareness to people, and let them know that they can’t continue to sweep us under the rug. With nearly 70 million (est.) schizophrenics in this world, we need help to become fully functional people in society.

The myths of us being violent, and killers as we are generally portrayed as in the media is false. I’m here to help tear down that stigma, and I hope anyone reading this blog does the same.

-Robert