Psychosis is one of the most serious side effects and results of heavy drug usage. Learn more about drug-induced psychosis and how to recover.
When 1 in 10 individuals 12 years of age and older in the United States report illicit drug use in the last month, it’s safe to say recreational drugs are popular in America.
Any illicit drug means any illicit drug: the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 study took into account every illicit drug possible. 1 in 10 individuals in the past month have used either:
- Cocaine (including crack)
- Hallucinogens (including LSD, PCP, peyote, mushrooms, ecstasy, ketamine, DMT, and salvia)
- Prescription Psychotherapeutics
Additionally, more than half the population ages 18 and older have had at least one alcoholic beverage in the past month.
This includes both “normal” users and drinkers as well as addicts and alcoholics. With such widespread usage, most addicts and alcoholics wonder why they are unable to drink or use normally.
Addicts and alcoholics never know when to stop; once they start, a craving kicks in. They drink and use more and more until they either blackout, pass out, are put to bed, or are arrested.
One terrifying occurrence in this endless “cat and mouse” effort to drink and use normally is drug-induced psychosis. Find out more about the symptoms of drug-induced psychosis and what exactly psychosis is by reading on.
What is Drug-Induced Psychosis? Is it the Same Thing as a Psychotic Episode?
Psychosis, in general, is a mental condition, a state of mind where there has been a loss of contact with reality. When a person is experiencing a period of psychosis, their thoughts and understanding of the world are skewed.
Psychosis affects a person’s ability to determine what is truly happening in reality and what is not. It’s almost a psychological break from the world where nothing registers or comprehends.
If a person is in psychosis for a period of time, it is called a psychotic episode.
States of psychosis are common among individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, psychosis can also be caused by sleep deprivation, certain prescription medications, or other health problems.
Excessive intake of drugs, alcohol, or both can also cause someone to enter a state of psychosis, known as drug-induced psychosis.
Since there are so many possibilities for the cause of psychosis or a psychotic episode, it is recommended you take the individual in for emergency care. Since they are disconnected from reality they are also more likely to harm themselves or others.
For the safety of everyone involved with a person during their psychosis or drug-induced psychosis, involve medical assistance immediately. This also gives them the best chance of recovery from their drug-induced psychosis.
What Are Some Symptoms of a Drug-Induced Psychosis?
Depending on the individual’s mental state beforehand, you may be able to see some pre-warning signs of a period of psychosis. Pre-psychosis symptoms include:
- A noticeable or significant drop in school or work performance
- Newfound difficulties with concentrating or thinking clearly
- Paranoid ideas, suspiciousness, or difficulties trusting others
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Intense, erratic, or manic new ideas and feelings or a complete lack of feelings
- Lessened interest in and attention to self-care and hygiene
- Difficulties differentiating reality from the imaginary
- Difficulties speaking or communicating
Symptoms of drug-induced psychosis are all similar, regardless of the type of substance or substances used to cause it.
Active symptoms of drug-induced psychosis include:
- Difficulties concentrating
- Down or depressed mood
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Suspiciousness or paranoia
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Erratic, disorganized speech that jumps from topic to topic
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Delusions are false beliefs or ideas about the world held by someone in a drug-induced psychosis. They are known to be false by everyone surrounding them yet they continue to insist on their accuracy, creating distrust and paranoia of everyone around them.
For example, someone is showing a delusional symptom of drug-induced psychosis will believe wholeheartedly they are being followed by the FBI or CIA. Or they are under the impression someone is trying to pass them an important note that they must forward.
Perhaps they believe everyone is out to get them or that someone has a hit out on them. Regardless, the delusions are usually irrational and illogical yet firmly believed by the person in the drug-induced psychosis.
What Causes a Drug-Induced Psychosis?
Again, there are many different potential causes of psychosis in general. Drug-induced psychosis, though, is caused by an over-intake of drugs, alcohol, or both.
Many different drugs, alcohol, or combinations of the two can cause a drug-induced psychosis. When too many are taken at one time or they are combined in the wrong way, an individual can fall into a state of psychosis.
Which different kinds of drugs can cause a drug-induced psychosis?
Those who are heavily dependent upon alcohol (medically coined “alcohol use disorder (AUD)”) can slip into states of drug-induced psychosis. There can be episodes caused by both active drinking and withdrawal symptoms.
The delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia common in severely alcoholic individuals are a state of drug-induced psychosis. Psychosis can also occur during periods of delirium tremens.
Drug-induced psychosis due to alcohol usually clears up on its own once the alcoholic separates from alcohol. It’s still always a good idea to check with a doctor or psychiatrist to ensure the best chance at recovery.
Marijuana is a mild hallucinogen that causes extreme paranoia in certain individuals. People who experience this paranoia have a chance of entering a drug-induced psychosis due to marijuana use.
Not all marijuana users experience this, though; many are able to comfortably intake marijuana with little to no problem. If you are with a friend who has never ingested marijuana before it would be helpful to keep a close eye on them, just in case.
Amphetamines (Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Adderall, etc.)
Amphetamines such as methamphetamine, cocaine, or Adderall commonly cause psychosis. Again, sleep deprivation is a potential cause of an episode of psychosis. Since sleep deprivation is a common side effect of amphetamines, drug-induced psychosis while on meth or cocaine
When an individual lacks sleep and is high on amphetamines, the symptoms of drug-induced psychosis, particularly paranoia, show up. Due to the increased amount of energy created by amphetamines, these individuals are more likely to act out in their psychosis.
Doctoral or psychiatric intervention is favorable with those showing drug-induced psychosis symptoms due to amphetamines.
Hallucinogens do not usually cause long-term drug-induced psychosis. However, during the “trip,” users are in a temporary state of psychosis.
Depending on their ability to handle their hallucinogens, individuals in this type of psychosis should be okay. However, it’s always a good idea to have a sober friend along for the ride to ensure everyone stays safe.
In the event a hallucinogenic drug-induced psychosis episode lasts after the drugs have worn off, immediate medical or psychiatric attention should be sought.
Does Someone in a Drug-Induced Psychosis Need to Go to the Hospital?
The best course of action to take when someone is experiencing symptoms of a drug-induced psychosis is to take them to a doctor or psychiatrist. The best option in your area may be the local emergency room.
The most important thing to keep in mind to help someone recover from drug-induced psychosis is to minimize the potential for damage. Since the individual is almost entirely disconnected from reality, they are more likely to act erratically and irrationally.
Taking them to a medically supervised environment will help to reduce the impact of the drug-induced psychosis on both their lives and the lives of those around them.
How Does Someone Recover From a Drug-Induced Psychosis?
The best way to treat and recover drug-induced psychosis symptoms is to take the individual to a doctor or psychiatrist as soon as possible. There they will undergo an assessment to determine the best course of action to take.
It is difficult to determine the severity of the drug-induced psychosis symptoms when the person is still drunk or high. Since drugs and alcohol are mind-altering, to begin with, they already impact an individual’s ability to see the world through a proper frame of mind.
If it is a strictly drug-induced psychosis, recovery will involve first sobering the individual up.
After the assessment, the doctor or psychiatrist will diagnose and treat the individual. Drug-induced psychosis recovery is different for each person, especially dependent upon the state of their mental health while sober.
It is difficult to provide a blanket outline for recovery from drug-induced psychosis because it is so unique to each individual. Many factors affect and influence the development of an episode of psychosis and how it plays out.
Again, the best idea when someone is experiencing symptoms of drug-induced psychosis is to take them to the emergency room or a local doctor or psychiatrist. No one should try to diagnose someone in psychosis by themselves.
If the individual has severe drug or alcohol dependence issues, seeking addiction or alcoholism treatment may be beneficial. If they are using to the point of entering a state of psychosis, there is nothing normal about their use.
The doctor will determine whether or not detox is necessary for the individual. Inpatient rehab or an intensive outpatient program can help individuals struggling with alcoholism and addiction learn to live sober a day at a time.
Long-term residential options, such as sober living, are another great option for those looking to get out of their regular environments. Removing themselves from the temptation of drugs and alcohol may prove to be the smartest idea possible for their recovery.
Just like every episode of drug-induced psychosis differs depending on the individual, each individual’s recovery differs as well. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery and sobriety, merely something that keeps someone sober one day at a time.
If you are looking for help for a loved one, you can find additional resources here.
Illegal Drug Use” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Alcohol Facts and Statistics” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
RAISE Questions and Answers” National Institute of Mental Health
The Different Types of Psychosis” Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Treatments for Psychosis” Centre for Addiction and Mental Health