What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Per Medical News Today, addiction is a chronic illness that grows via a combination of chemical and psychological dependencies that cause the abuser to lose self-control and habitually use the addictive substance despite the negative effects it may have on their life. Signs of drug abuse and addiction include:

  • Inability to control how much or how often one uses a drug or drinks alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms that ensue when the substance is absent
  • Persisting in use even when health is declining
  • Using to avoid withdrawal
  • Maintaining an adequate supply
  • Risky behavior when under the influence
  • Withdrawing from social activities once enjoyed

In some cases, and with certain substances, specific symptoms can present that are both alarming and potentially life-threatening. Psychotic symptoms should never be ignored. While some patients may be experiencing mood swings during withdrawal, and certain drug abusers could exhibit some of the telltale signs of psychosis — like visual hallucinations — it isn’t full-blown psychosis if said hallucinations are merely occurring while high as a result of the substance being ingested.

Drug-Induced Psychosis

woman with psychosisDrug-induced psychosis occurs when a drug abuser loses touch with their surroundings. Approximately 74 percent of people in one study experiencing their first episode of psychosis had a substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and 62 percent were currently abusing drugs or alcohol, per Psychiatric Times. Sufferers can expect to experience everything from delusions to hallucinations, both visual and auditory. For some, psychosis can develop into substance-induced psychotic disorder. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders notes that seven to 25 percent of those struggling with psychotic episodes stemming from substance abuse end up with the diagnosis.

At Risk

Obviously, only drug users suffer from this form of psychosis, but not every drug causes the condition to develop. The most commonly noted drug among substance-induced psychoses patients is likely amphetamines. The relationship between stimulant drugs and psychosis has long been controversial and lies heavily rooted in a debate of which came first. Since psychiatric patients have shown a predisposed risk toward substance abuse, many argue that psychotic symptoms are stemming from underlying or presently diagnosed disorders separate from substance abuse altogether. One General Hospital Psychiatry study accounts for drug influence in 26 percent of psychiatric patients. The Australian Government, Department of Health notes that psychosis is more likely to occur after the use of amphetamines than cocaine.

Nevertheless, cocaine can also cause psychosis. One Journal of Clinical Psychiatry study noted that among the 53 percent of participants who experienced cocaine-induced psychosis, 90 percent had paranoid delusions, and 96 percent experienced hallucinations. Alcohol is a major proponent in the development of psychosis. In one study of 8,028 drinkers, alcohol-induced psychotic disorder was a consequence for 0.5 percent during their lifetimes, per the Journal of Mental Science.

Medical professionals used to believe only strong substances like stimulants and psychedelic drugs had the potential to cause psychotic symptoms, but as drug abuse has bled into different genres more, such as abuse of depressants and prescription drugs, it has become all too clear that psychosis is not that limited. According to Medscape, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and amphetamines are the substances most commonly believed to induce psychosis in users and abusers.

It is now known that even marijuana can increase the risk of psychosis. Harvard Health Publications notes that youths who smoked cannabis five or more times doubled their risk of developing psychosis in comparison to youths who didn’t use the drug. The Department of Health, Victoria, Australia, reports stronger variants of marijuana like skunk or hashish, extensive use of the drug — either over time or in large doses – and an individual or family history of psychotic illnesses as precursors that may increase one’s likelihood of developing drug-induced psychosis. Current Psychiatry notes that up to 15 percent of cannabis users have experienced psychotic symptoms after using the drug in one analysis, while another — a Netherlands-based review of 4,045 psychosis cases — noted the potential for marijuana as a cause of development in over half of them.

Treatment for Drug-Induced Psychosis

treatmentBehind the scenes, these substances are wreaking havoc on the user’s mind and body, causing major disruptions in cognitive processing and emotional regulation. It is possible that a drug or alcohol user’s mental health condition contributes to the development of substance-induced psychosis, making those with a mental health disorder somewhat more likely to suffer from psychosis than someone without any mental health troubles. That being said, mental illness carries its own risks when it comes to substance abuse. About 37 percent of alcoholics and 53 percent of drug-dependent individuals also suffer from a serious mental health disorder, per the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Without treatment, drug-induced psychosis is allowed to fester and grow in intensity. The resolution of substance-induced psychosis is often entirely dependent upon which substance is being abused. For instance, those experiencing psychosis stemming from alcohol abuse may very well recover from the state while still intoxicated. However, amphetamine abusers could take far longer. For instance, a Japanese study tallied 82 percent of patients suffering from amphetamine-induced psychosis as having recovered from their paranoid state within a month’s time, implying the potential for a month-long recovery, per La Biblioteca Cochrane Plus.

At The Oaks at La Paloma, we strive to provide you with a comfortable, comprehensive treatment experience from detox to discharge. Call us today and find out how we can help you reclaim your life from drugs or alcohol addiction.