4 Ways Drug Abuse Can Cause Schizophreniform Disorder

As one of the most serious forms of psychosis, schizophrenia is a lifelong condition that greatly impairs a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Not surprisingly, the apparent resemblance between the words schizophrenia and schizophreniform is not a coincidence.

Schizophreniform, a close cousin to schizophrenia, produces many of the same mental and behavioral effects. The two conditions differ in that schizophreniform episodes only last for a short period of time.

As with any other type of mental illness, certain people are more susceptible to developing schizophreniform disorder than others. When frequent drug abuse enters the mix, these odds increase for most everyone.

If you or someone you know engages in regular amphetamine, opiate or hallucinogen abuse, understanding how frequent drug abuse can trigger schizophreniform episodes may help prevent this condition from taking a foothold in your life.

For information on drug abuse treatment options, call our toll-free helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) .

Schizophreniform Disorder Features


Delusional thinking is a common symptom of schizophreniform disorder.

Like schizophrenia, the overall effect of schizophreniform disorder is psychosis, a condition that leaves a person unable to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. Rather than taking over a person’s personality for the long-term, symptoms of schizophreniform only lasts for one to six months at a time, according to Ohio State University.

Other common symptoms of schizophreniform disorder include:

  • Delusional thinking
  • Nonsensical speech patterns
  • Unusual behavior, such as pacing
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations

In many cases, experiencing one or more episodes of schizophreniform marks the first step towards developing a full-blown psychosis.

4 Ways Schizophreniform Disorder Can Develop

1. Drug Overdose

Opiates, amphetamines and hallucinogen drugs all produce psychoactive effects, altering the brain’s chemical makeup in dangerous ways. With chronic drug abuse, large enough doses of a drug can overpower the brain’s regulatory functions to the point of disrupting major systems throughout the brain and body, according to University of Minnesota.

Once brain chemical imbalances reach a certain point, symptoms of schizophreniform disorder can result.

2. Mixing Different Drugs

Poly-drug use, or abusing different types of drugs at the same time, places a tremendous strain on brain and body systems. Over time, these systems start to weaken to the point where they can no longer withstand the effects of continued drug use and still function normally.

In effect, chronic and long-term drug users face an ongoing risk of developing schizophreniform disorder due to the cumulative effects of drugs on the brain.


3. Withdrawal Effects

Drug withdrawal episodes can become quite severe after so many months or years of continued drug abuse. Regardless of the type of drug used, withdrawal effects tend to include distressing psychological symptoms, including:

These types of symptoms tend to become more severe with time and ultimately lay the groundwork for schizophreniform disorder to take root.

4. Underlying Mental Health Problems

People most susceptible to mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety disorders remain at particularly high risk of developing schizophreniform disorder. In effect, drug abuse practices only work to trigger any underlying problems that may exist.

If you’ve experienced one or more episodes of schizophreniform disorder and are considering getting treatment help, please don’t hesitate to call our helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our phone counselors.


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