Drug Abuse in Teens & Common Misdiagnosis as Schizophrenia

Teenagers are susceptible to drug addiction

Schizophrenia has become one of the most common mental health diagnoses among teenagers in recent years. While many teens suffer from depression and other mental health complications, schizophrenia, at initial glance, seems to be on the rise as well. For some teenagers, however, the initial diagnosis of schizophrenia may not be accurate and, ultimately, may lead to an inappropriate treatment plan.

If your teenager has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and if your child is undergoing outpatient treatment of this progressive mental health disorder, it is important to also consider what other health conditions may be imposing these symptoms. In many cases, after undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, teenagers are diagnosed with schizophrenia, placed on medications, and then given psychotherapy. These teens, in some cases, do not respond well to treatment and health insurance companies, and parents, are out thousands of dollars.

When faced with the schizophrenia diagnosis, be sure to ask your healthcare professional to run testing, also, for drug screening. To the surprise of many parents, the symptoms that are being diagnosed as schizophrenia may actually be symptoms of drug abuse. With a urine test, saliva test, or even a hair sample analysis, your healthcare team can easily determine if your teen has a problem with drug use. If confirmed, the symptoms that you are witnessing in your teenager may actually be side effects of drug use.

With drug screening, you will be assured that your teen will get a more accurate diagnosis and management of symptoms. Even if the treatment for schizophrenia has just begun, testing for drug abuse may still be considered and, if needed, your health insurance company can be notified of the change in diagnosis.

While a positive drug screening may result in a change of treatment plans, even a change in treatment centers, your teen will realize a more effective outcome in the treatment process to alleviate the symptoms that were once believed to be schizophrenic in nature. The key to your child’s health outcome lies in being an advocate for your teen, even if your teen is not cooperating or fully disclosing their recreational activities and potential drug abuse.

Sources: Dealing with Teenage Drug Abuse, by Michelle Tason

Leave a Comment