Drug abuse, aside from ravaging an individual’s body, can damage the mind and eventually wreak havoc in one’s life. Schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression are just some of the psychological disorders brought about by substance abuse and addiction. Among these, schizophrenia can be the most harmful in that it can distort an individual’s perception of reality and cause visual and auditory hallucinations. Schizophrenics suffer from a disintegration of thinking processes and emotional responsiveness that can result in severe dysfunctions. Paranoid delusions and disorganized thoughts and speech patterns are common among schizophrenics, and almost all of them cannot function or live normal lives due to the symptoms. An individual’s family, friends, and colleagues are also affected by schizophrenia because the disorder can make him or her lose touch with reality, making the individual either withdrawn or extremely agitated by delusions of other people reading his or her mind or plotting against him or her.
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three main categories:

Positive Symptoms

These symptoms are the most obvious ones; positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy individuals such as:

• Hallucinations
• Paranoid delusions
• Disorganized thinking and other thought disorders
• Movement disorders

Negative symptoms

Compared to positive symptoms, the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are less noticeable and can often be mistaken as symptoms of another psychological condition. Negative symptoms are described as disruptions to normal behaviors or emotional responses. These symptoms include:

• The “flat effect,” wherein the individual shows no facial expression or talks in a monotonous voice
• Little to no social interaction
• A lack of pleasure or satisfaction from life

Cognitive symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are very subtle and, similar to negative symptoms, very hard to spot, especially through an untrained eye. More often than not, they are only detected when actual tests are performed, making them ineffective bases for diagnosis of schizophrenia. Cognitive symptoms include:

• Short attention span or difficulty concentrating
• Memory problems
• Poor “executive functioning” or decision-making