Noncompliance of treatment often interferes with recovery from schizophrenia. Noncompliance means that the individual stops taking or drastically reduces the medication necessary for treatment of schizophrenia.
Recovery from Schizophrenia and Noncompliance
Noncompliance of schizophrenia treatment is a major cause of relapse.
An article in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology (2000) reports schizophrenia treatment noncompliance rates of 40 percent, with partial noncompliance as high as 75 percent.
Even when people comply with treatment of schizophrenia, relapse may occur. Relapses due to noncompliance of treatment, however, tend to be more severe and last longer than relapses while taking medication.
Causes of Noncompliance
Noncompliance of schizophrenia treatment stems from various causes. During recovery from schizophrenia, people may continue to experience delusions, paranoia and other psychotic symptoms. Psychotic symptoms may lead sufferers to believe they don’t need treatment.
Paranoia and delusions can also convince schizophrenics that doctors are drugging or experimenting on them, leading to noncompliance. As medication wears off, symptoms worsen, which may increase resistance to treatment.
In addition, noncompliance of medication may occur due to the distressing nature of side effects. Side effects may improve faster than symptoms return, reinforcing noncompliance.
Social factors also influence noncompliance of treatment. Contact with individuals who don’t consider medication an appropriate treatment can trigger noncompliance during recovery from schizophrenia, especially if this person is a trusted friend or family member.
The attitude of the person recovering from schizophrenia is, of course, very important. If you’re already opposed to medication, you’re much more likely to be noncompliant than someone who believes in treatment of schizophrenia.
Signs of Noncompliance
Noncompliance of schizophrenia treatment greatly increases chances of relapse. Friends and family can help prevent relapse by learning to recognize these common signs of noncompliance:
- Medication side effects mysteriously improve.
- Symptoms of schizophrenia begin to return. (Symptoms may be subtle at first.)
- The individual claims that doctors recommended ceasing medication.
- The individual no longer goes to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions.
- When asked, the individual can’t provide basic information about medication, including pill color or shape.
Long-Acting Treatment of Schizophrenia
If noncompliance of medication interferes with recovery from schizophrenia, a change in medication delivery may be required. Some people benefit from switching from oral medication to long-acting injections given in outpatient facilities.
Long-term antipsychotics eliminate the need for daily medication, and have a built-in safeguard against noncompliance. If the patient doesn’t make his appointment, health care staff can notify family members or arrange a home visit for a possible quick intervention.
Moore, A., Sellwood, W.