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What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Updated: Jan 27

What is Drug-induced Psychosis?

Substance abuse psychosis, commonly known as toxic psychosis or drug-induced psychosis is a psychosis that results from the effects of chemicals in substances. Various psychoactive substances have been implicated in causing or worsening psychosis in users.

Psychosis refers to an episode in which an individual has a break from reality. It can include hallucinations, delusions, or false beliefs that are firmly held despite clear evidence to the contrary.

The symptoms of drug-induced psychosis are often gradual, with the toxicity of the drug becoming more dangerous as the frequency and dosage of the drug increase with dependency. If you have an underlying mental health condition, then the use of psychoactive drugs will likely worsen your symptoms, result in extreme paranoia, and speed up the onset of psychotic disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Delusions are when you may believe that something is happening that isn’t reflective of the real world, and you may ignore any challenges to these beliefs from others, as to you, it will feel like a real scenario. For the individual experiencing the delusion, this is their reality.

After long periods of use, some drugs and alcohol can cause psychotic symptoms which mimic those experienced by people with certain mental illnesses. It is creating havoc on the body and mind, causing major disruptions in cognitive processing and emotional regulation.

Examples of psychotic symptoms:

  • Auditory hallucinations – hearing internal or external voices.

  • Visual hallucinations – seeing things that aren’t there.

  • Tactile hallucinations – feeling sensations for example bugs crawling on their skin.

  • Olfactory hallucinations – smelling an odour.

  • Erotomanic delusions – believing someone is in love with him/her.

  • Grandiose delusions – an over-inflated sense of self-worth and power.

  • Jealousy delusions – believing a partner is cheating.

  • Persecution delusions – a belief that others are out to harm/obstruct or kill him/her.

  • Somatic delusions – believing that they have a health problem or some other bodily complaint.

The most common drugs that can cause psychosis include;

  • Alcohol - delusions, mental confusion, and disorientation. The most common substance to cause psychosis from withdrawal when the person tries to stop. Long-term alcohol use changes brain chemistry, producing symptoms referred to as delirium tremens.

  • Cocaine – persecution delusions and tactile hallucinations are most common and can persist for days, months, or sometimes years after use has stopped.

  • Methamphetamine – paranoia, persecution delusions, and auditory and visual hallucinations. They might subside after stopping use but may increase one’s susceptibility to developing future psychosis even after long periods of abstinence.

  • Cannabis – long-term use especially from a young age may cause a higher risk of developing psychotic illnesses.

  • Amphetamine – similar to methamphetamine and cocaine.

  • Psychedelic drugs – they may include temporary effects that mimic psychosis but typically cease when the drug wears off.


The good news is that drug-induced psychosis is generally a temporary state of mind, however, without treatment, drug-induced psychosis is allowed to fester and grow in intensity. It is merely a symptom and not a condition in itself.

The most obvious cure is to stop abusing any substance. Medically supervised detoxification is advised and treatment at a registered facility for substance abuse and possible co-occurring disorders.

Due to the nature of this occurrence, it is important to first determine if the symptoms are caused by the substance or have materialized due to other reasons, such as genetics, traumatic events, or some other mental illness.


Dive into the realm of drug-induced psychosis, unveiling its causes, gradual symptoms, and common substances triggering this state. From hallucinations to delusions, understand the impact on mental health and the escalation of psychotic disorders. Learn about treatment options, emphasizing the necessity of medically supervised detoxification and intervention for co-occurring disorders. Discover the transient nature of drug-induced psychosis and the importance of seeking medical assistance for a comprehensive recovery journey.

Introduction to Drug-Induced Psychosis

Overview: Drug-induced psychosis, also known as toxic psychosis, stems from the effects of chemicals in substances.

Elaboration: Various psychoactive substances can lead to or worsen psychosis, characterized by hallucinations, delusions, or false beliefs, representing a break from reality.

Gradual Onset and Dependency

Delusions and Altered Reality

Common Psychotic Symptoms

Drugs Associated with Psychosis

Treatment for Drug-Induced Psychosis

Drug-induced psychosis is typically a transient state, but without proper treatment, it can escalate. Stopping substance abuse is paramount, and medically supervised detoxification is recommended. Treatment at a registered facility addresses both substance abuse and potential co-occurring disorders. Given the complexity, determining the root cause of symptoms is essential for tailored intervention.



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