Learn about drug induced psychosis, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options in this informative article.
Often, psychosis occurs as the result of a mental disorder; however, it can also develop through substance use. Drug-induced psychosis, also known as stimulant psychosis, is characterized as experiencing a psychotic episode (e.g., delusions, hallucinations, paranoia) triggered by substance abuse and misuse.
While these two conditions share similarities, there are a few differences between drug-induced psychosis and schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that causes an altered sense of reality, affecting how people think, feel, and behave due to periods of psychosis. While there is no singular established cause of schizophrenia, research shows that substance abuse can trigger schizophrenia symptoms. For example, one study found that 11% of participants with substance-induced psychotic disorder developed schizophrenia.1
Drug-induced psychosis is a psychotic episode that occurs from substance abuse. While it can develop during active drug use, it’s more common during withdrawal. In addition, unlike schizophrenia, which is a lifelong disorder, drug-induced psychosis is temporary, lasting no more than a few days.
Because the statistics surrounding drug-induced psychosis vary based on the substance, it can be difficult to understand exactly how common it is. Nonetheless, a study has provided perspective on the prevalence of drug-induced psychosis for amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, and opiates in individuals ranging from no substance use disorder to severe substance use disorder.
The findings of this study will be detailed below:2
The drug-induced psychosis timeline can vary based on many factors, including the substance, severity of abuse, and duration of abuse. However, research has found that only 10% of drug-induced psychosis cases last longer than six months after use. The majority usually resolve one month following the last time the substance was abused.3
Due to the nature of drug-induced psychosis symptoms, this condition can pose a significant risk to the people affected and those around them. In addition, the short-term and long-term effects pose a risk of their own, especially without treatment.
Drug-induced psychosis may not be recognized while the substance is still active in the body. However, as the body begins to metabolize and eliminate the drug, the short-term effects of drug-induced psychosis can become more apparent. These can include:
Psychosis can have a lasting impact on the brain and mind, especially when treatment is postponed or avoided altogether. While many of the effects of drug-induced psychosis will fade within a couple of days, others can take weeks, months, or possibly even longer, depending on the severity.
Some of the long-term effects of drug-induced psychosis can include:
Drug-induced psychosis can lead to a variety of symptoms, many of which are similar to other mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia.
Paranoia is an unrealistic thought or feeling of being threatened, especially when no risk is presented. While it can often be a mild symptom of drug-induced psychosis, it can vary in severity, with more severe instances of paranoia possible.
Delusions are false beliefs. These can be about yourself or your surroundings, including other people. Types of delusions include:
Hallucinations are false perceptions. They can affect all five senses, meaning people may hear, smell, taste, see, or feel things that aren’t there. Types of hallucinations include:
Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations can make it difficult to connect with friends and loved ones and feel safe in public spaces. As a result, drug-induced psychosis may lead to anti-social behaviors such as avoidance and isolationism. This can also lead to panic attacks and confusion.
Drug-induced psychosis can make it difficult for people to differentiate between reality and false beliefs and perceptions caused by psychotic episodes. As a result, it can introduce an elevated risk for dangers such as suicide, violent outbursts, and injury. Because of this, drug-induced psychosis often requires hospitalization.
Drug-induced psychosis typically occurs when the body is introduced to a toxic amount of drugs. This can be caused by taking too much of a single substance or a combination of substances. In addition, this condition can occur during substance withdrawal.
The drugs that are most often reported to cause psychosis are mind-altering substances, especially cannabis. In fact, recent studies have shown that cannabis can increase the risk of psychosis and has the highest conversion rate to schizophrenia at 47%.4
Nonetheless, many different substances can cause drug-induced psychosis, including:
There are certain factors that can elevate the risk of drug-induced psychosis. They include:
Because drug-induced psychosis can mimic other conditions, including psychosis caused by a psychotic disorder, it is important to properly diagnose the condition either through a drug-induced psychosis test or by utilizing drug-induced psychosis diagnostic criteria. Because drug-induced psychosis relies on a substance to be present in the body, that is one of the leading determinate factors when identifying a diagnosis.
While drug-induced psychosis can be distressing, there is treatment available to help.
Drug-induced psychosis treatment programs combine a New Windowvariety of treatment methods for a multifaceted approach.
The first step is a medically supervised detox, a process that safely eliminates the substance from the body to begin working towards recovery.
The most commonly used and efficient therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps create a better understanding of how negative thoughts impact the mind and behaviors and actively changes them to more positive ones.
Medication to manage substance withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, anxiety, depression, and psychosis, can help ensure a safe and more comfortable recovery.
Support groups are a great way to help people through recovery. They provide a secure environment free of judgment, allowing members to talk openly and honestly about what they are going through, feel less lonely, learn and maintain healthy coping mechanisms, and have a strong support system.
Drug-induced psychosis can be a dangerous condition for the people affected and those around them. Fortunately, help is available.
At San Diego Detox, you’ll find the professional care and compassion you need throughout your recovery journey. Under the guidance of our certified staff members, you’ll be able to partake in a variety of treatment options best suited for your unique needs in navigating drug-induced psychosis. Contact us at San Diego Detox today to learn more.