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Mental Health

Risk for Schizophrenia

06/21/2011

Question:

My husband`s grandfather developed schizophrenia at the age of 35. My husband, who is a highly intelligent M.I.T graduate, has smoked pot routinely for two years at the age of 19 to 20 yrs. He has not smoked since. He smoked cigarretes from the age of 18, around 10 cigarettes/day and has binge drinking habits. he is presently 27 and has no abnormal behaviour. He has not experienced psychosis with pot. he becomes aggressive when drunk and does not remember much the next day. What is his risk of developing schizophrenia?

Answer:

Like other forms of illness, psychiatric illness runs in families. A parent having an illness does not immediately transfer this condition to a child. However, the child inherits an increased risk.

Schizophrenia has a slow onset, usually starting in teenage years. Your husband's history of intelligence is in his favor. However, the much greater issue that I read is his use of alcohol. Aggression and blackouts with drinking suggest a concerning level of use. I would also think about the level of safety with all of this. I recommend your talking with your husband about his use of alcohol and how he views it. To clarify how this may be affecting you or your relationship, consult Alcoholics Anonymous.

Obviously, your husband is not my patient, and I am not making a formal diagnosis or advising treatment; rather, some broad considerations arise from your e-mail.

Best wishes.

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Response by:

Ram Chandran  Kalyanam, MD Ram Chandran Kalyanam, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University