What is drug-induced psychosis?


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.


A delusion may be auditory or visual and sometimes both.

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 really there.

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

  • Olfactory hallucinations – smelling an odour.

  • Erotomanic delusions – believing someone is in love 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.

Most common drugs that can cause psychosis

  • 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 for developing future psychosis even after long periods of abstinence.

  • Cannabis – long-term use and especially from a young age may cause a higher risk to develop 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.

Treatment

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.


Contact us for more information.

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