Alcohol and Schizoaffective Disorder

Seen as I’ve taken up drinking once again (bad idea, I know), I thought it would be the perfect time to write this post.

Why it’s a bad idea:

Many people suffering from a mental illness use alcohol to self-medicate, however it typically causes more problems than it solves. Those who suffer from schizoaffective disorder are far more sensitive to alcohol use. Alcohol use also reduces the effectiveness of mental health treatment. It is recommended that those with schizophrenia, bipolar and schizoaffective disorder should not consume alcohol at all, however, not everyone with a mental illness will stop consuming alcohol, due to the fact they use it as the same reasons as everyone else: to socialise, to feel good for a while, or to try and suppress their symptoms and the unpleasant things they are experiencing. However it is important for them to discuss their alcohol consumption with their doctor to make sure they are drinking safely; if they are medicated, alcohol can increase the medicines side effects, or vice versa, making it even more important to discuss with their doctor.

Those who suffer from schizoaffective disorder are prone to behavioural and interpersonal issues even when consuming a small amount of alcohol. Alcohol use can worsen symptoms dramatically, and proves to make functioning within relationships more difficult. There is also a high possibility that the person will become dependent on alcohol. Alcohol use interferes with mental health treatment, making it more likely for the person to relapse.

After all of this, you are probably wondering why people with schizoaffective disorder still consume alcohol. It is because there is always the possibility that it will suppress the person’s symptoms, rather than making them worse.

How alcohol has affected me over the years:

I first began drinking a couple of months before my 14th birthday. At first, alcohol affected me the same way as everyone else. That all changed when I reached 15. I hit my second severe manic episode (as far as I can remember), and I would drink until I couldn’t walk every weekend with my friends. This was the way I would cope with socialising for the following year. However, when I drank excessively I could become extremely angry over the smallest thing, or if too many people crowded around me. It got to the point where it scared my friends, which was when I decided to stop drinking for the first time. I was in no way addicted, but it affected me in too many negative ways to let it carry on.

The same thing happened multiple times over the following years if I had drunk excessively that night. I snapped at my family when I was in such a state, which is why I try to avoid drinking to this point; however, that can prove to be difficult as it is a way of self-medicating. Now that I am on medication (a fairly high dose of Seroquel to be exact), drinking alcohol does affect me more, making it even harder to judge when enough is enough. Though it is very rare that I drink to that point.

Alcohol does have its positives when consumed in the correct amount however. It makes me feel far more relaxed and comfortable, suppresses the voices and hallucinations, slows down my thoughts, and makes me slightly more sociable. The downfall is that consuming any amount of alcohol can make the symptoms of the illness worse rather than better, it can make the side effects of the medication more severe, and trigger depressive episodes.