Schizophrenia and substance abuse: Is schizophrenia forgotten?
In the United States, much political and community attention has been drawn to the so-called ‘Opioid epidemic’. Many young people are dying from overdoses of self-injected opioids. These deaths have received widespread attention and mandates to stop their occurrences. Indeed, the global burden attributable to substance abuse is highest of all mental illnesses . It is clear that preventive measures, including emergency opiate antagonist kits and medication-assisted therapies, need to be instituted and thus the political machinery has been set into motion to fight this illness and what has now been labeled an epidemic of huge proportions. Those psychiatrists who get specific training in substance abuse and take on the task of providing of medication-assisted therapies for substance abuse in their practices are in great demand and are now in the mainstream of psychiatry in the United States. A decade ago, speakers at meetings would comment that half the psychiatric hospital beds were taken up by people with schizophrenia and so combating schizophrenia became a prioritized economic and political issue. But the conversation has since changed to the number of hospitalizations for drug and alcohol withdrawal.