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Substance abuse can produce many harmful side effects, with psychosis being just one of them. These types of psychotic events are serious and require professional treatment. Although short-term treatment will help, ongoing psychological care and addiction treatment can lead to lasting recovery and will also reduce the likelihood that drug-induced psychosis will occur again.
What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?
Drug-induced psychosis is a psychotic episode that has been brought on by drug or alcohol abuse. When someone experiences psychosis caused by drug or alcohol abuse, they can experience auditory and visual hallucinations and may perceive things that are not real.
Drug and alcohol abuse can trigger a psychotic episode in someone who would otherwise never experience it. However, certain drugs can also exacerbate psychotic symptoms in those with pre-existing mental health disorders.
A person may experience drug-induced psychosis under several different circumstances:
- Taking too much of a drug: If someone takes too much of an illegal drug or even a prescription drug, it may be too much for their body to handle. As a result, they may experience psychotic symptoms.
- Mixing different drugs: Mixing certain substances can produce very harmful and unpredictable effects. Some of which may include symptoms of psychosis.
- Withdrawal: Withdrawal from alcohol and certain drugs can produce psychotic symptoms as well, which can quickly become dangerous and harmful to the individual experiencing them, as well as those around them.
What Are the Signs of Drug-Induced Psychosis?
In general, there are three main signs of drug-induced psychosis:1
- Hallucinations: During a hallucination, you may see, hear, taste, or feel something that does not exist in reality.
- Delusions: If you’re experiencing severe delusions, you may hold an unshakeable belief that is untrue. For example, you may believe you have magic powers or that you are being spied on.
- Confused and disturbed thoughts: During a psychotic episode, you may also speak very quickly, switch from one topic to another mid-sentence, or suddenly lose your train of thought.
People who suffer from drug-induced psychotic episodes don’t know that their hallucinations or delusions aren’t real. This can be extremely distressing. If a loved one is experiencing psychotic symptoms, you should seek emergency help right away.
What Drugs Can Cause Drug-Induced Psychosis?
Although rare, some people who have been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder may experience a condition called alcohol hallucinosis. This condition causes symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, and fear.2 It typically occurs when a person abuses alcohol for years and suffers damage to the brain caused by a severe lack of vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 deficiency can also lead to a brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.3
A severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens (DTs) can also cause psychotic symptoms. Other symptoms of DTs also include anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.4
Some illegal drugs can also cause drug-induced psychosis:
- Cocaine: Chronic abuse of stimulants like cocaine can cause a paranoid psychosis that is similar to schizophrenia. Regular abuse of cocaine can also cause severe delusions of paranoia, which is more common.5
- Amphetamines: Amphetamine abuse can cause symptoms of psychosis, including delusions of persecution, extreme suspicion, auditory hallucinations, disorganized thoughts, and lack of concentration.6
- Bath salts: The abuse of bath salts is often associated with violent psychotic episodes or extreme delusional beliefs that drive individuals to commit very strange crimes.
Several different types of prescription drugs can cause psychotic episodes too, including:
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Heart medications
- High blood pressure medications
- Medications that relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Abusing hallucinogen drugs also produces hallucinations, but this type of reaction isn’t psychosis. Those side effects are to be expected from hallucinogenic substances. However, hallucinogens like LSD, mushrooms, and cannabis can cause some symptoms of psychosis if a person takes too much, such as delusions and paranoia.
During withdrawal from opiates, inhalants, amphetamines, and other addictive substances that greatly alter brain chemistry, there is always the risk that someone who is severely addicted may experience psychotic symptoms.
How Long Does Drug-Induced Psychosis Last?
There is no exact timeline for drug-induced psychosis. Some individual’s symptoms may dissipate after a few days or weeks, while others still experience symptoms for months or years after the initial onset. Typically, though, drug-induced psychosis is short-lived.
Factors that can affect how long drug-induced psychosis lasts include:
- What drug (or combination of drugs) you’re using
- How long you’ve been using drugs
- How much of the drug you normally take
One 2012 study looked at 258 patients who were primarily methamphetamine users and who had been using drugs for an average of seven years.7 These patients had been admitted into psychiatric care to manage their symptoms of psychosis.
Of the 258 patients:
- 114 (60%) of them stopped experiencing psychotic symptoms one month after quitting the drugs
- 56 (30%) of them experienced psychotic symptoms for 1 to 6 months
- 19 (10%) of them experienced psychotic symptoms for longer than 6 months (in 8 of these, the diagnosis had changed to schizophrenia)
According to the study, the patients whose symptoms persisted the longest were more likely to have a family history of mental illness, started using drugs earlier in life, and continued using them for a long time. They were also more likely to have been re-hospitalized during the study’s follow-up period due to reappearing psychotic symptoms.
Can You Recover From Drug Psychosis?
Yes, you can recover from drug psychosis, but residential treatment is often recommended to achieve recovery.
Since the symptoms of drug-induced psychosis often go away after the drug has left your system and you’ve finished detoxing, it’s tempting to go on with your life and pretend like the whole thing never happened. However, this is dangerous because symptoms of psychosis could reappear.
For example, with some drugs, like methamphetamine, the initial psychotic symptoms may resolve after several days, but psychosis can spontaneously reappear years after you’ve gotten sober. This can also increase the likelihood that you will suffer from ongoing substance abuse and more psychotic episodes.
After you’ve experienced an episode of drug-induced psychosis, you’ll likely have underlying issues that need to be addressed before you can move forward with life and stay sober. Professional treatment for substance abuse should also treat any underlying mental health issues you have. People who suffer from addiction often also suffer from various mental health issues, including:
- Personality disorders
- Bipolar disorder
Fortunately, all of these mental health conditions, as well as addiction, can be managed with professional treatment and ongoing care.
Residential Rehab for Drug Addiction
If you or a loved one is experiencing drug-induced psychosis, immediate hospitalization or medical detox is necessary. If and when you’re ready to commit to recovery, getting treatment at a residential rehab center is often the first step.
Inpatient rehab is most often the ideal treatment situation for individuals who have experienced drug-induced psychosis because it provides intensive, individualized care in a safe environment. Clients also receive this care from a team of addiction treatment experts that collaborate and work together to treat each client’s substance use disorder, psychosis, and mental health issues.
Residential rehab for drug addiction provides several unique benefits for those who have underlying mental health issues, such as:
- A secure and substance-free living environment
- Round-the-clock medical care
- Reduced likelihood of relapse
- Access to a variety of different therapies and holistic treatment methods for addiction
- Professional referrals and planning for ongoing care after rehab is over
Research shows that substance abuse increases the risk that you may experience certain psychotic conditions. Since relapse and continued substance abuse could potentially cause another psychotic episode or trigger mental health issues, the best way to reduce that vulnerability is to get treatment right away.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, Nova Recovery Center can help. We provide residential rehab near Austin for adult men and women. Our staff uses evidence-based and research-based treatment methods that will help you identify addictive patterns in your life, change your behavior, and prevent future drug and alcohol abuse.
Our board-certified doctors, experienced nurses, counselors, and recovery specialists all work together to ensure that your individual treatment needs are met. We want you to have the best chance at a full and lasting recovery from addiction.
When you’re ready to get help, call (512) 605-2955 for more information. A Nova admissions representative is waiting to take your call.
Nova Recovery Center offers a large range of substance abuse treatment services: detox, residential, outpatient and sober living.
- Recovery From Drug-Induced Psychosis: How Residential Rehab Helps
- What Is A Recovery Advocate in Rehab?
- Never Forget, But Keep Moving Forward
- Finding Hope In a Brand New Beginning
- Texas Drug Laws: What Happens If You Get Charged With Possession in Texas?
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