Psychosis Symptoms Linked to Substance Use

Psychosis is the name for a group of symptoms that seriously distort your connection to everyday reality. In their classic form, these symptoms are related to several kinds of diagnosable mental illnesses.

However, that is not always so. Some drug users also develop symptoms of psychosis. Addiction specialists refer to these cases as substance- or drug-induced psychosis.

It can be difficult to detect the source of psychosis triggered by drug use. Still, with help from experts, you can receive an accurate diagnosis. Treatment professionals can also help you recover from these kinds of psychotic episodes.

In addition, they can help you steer clear of any repeat episodes in the future.

What Is Psychosis

What Is Psychosis

The first step in approaching the subject of drug-induced psychosis is defining what the term psychosis means. This term does not refer to a specific form of mental illness. Instead, it refers to a cluster of symptoms that have multiple potential causes. 

The two most characteristic symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusional thinking. Each of these symptoms can affect you in several ways. For example, common types of hallucinations include:

  • Seeing distorted versions of things that actually exist
  • Seeing things that do not exist at all
  • Hearing non-existent sounds or voices
  • Feeling or touching things that do not exist

Common forms of delusional thinking include:

  • Giving great meaning to random or unimportant statements or objects
  • Thinking that some outside force is exerting control over you or out to get you
  • Believing that you are superhuman or the sole agent of a higher power

There are also other potential symptoms of psychosis. For example, you may lose your ability to speak coherently. You may also display inappropriate behavior or experience feelings of anxiety or depression.

Some or all of the various psychosis symptoms may occur in any given person.

Perhaps the most well-known mental illness associated with psychosis is schizophrenia. But schizophrenia is just one example of a group of related illnesses.

Experts refer to these conditions under the heading of schizophrenia spectrum and other related disorders. Examples of additional illnesses within this category include:

  • Schizophreniform disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Brief psychotic disorder
  • Delusional disorder

Schizophrenia Vs. Psychosis

Some people think of schizophrenia and psychosis as one and the same thing. And in fact, psychosis is a hallmark of schizophrenia. However, the illness also has other typical symptoms. Examples of these additional issues include:

  • Declining personal motivation
  • Loss of facial and/or vocal expressiveness
  • A decreasing ability to feel pleasure
  • A diminished willingness or desire to talk
  • Difficulty paying attention or focusing
  • Disruptions in your normal ability to process or use information 

Definition of Drug-Induced Psychosis

The definition of drug-induced psychosis falls into a category called “other” psychotic disorders. Experts actually refer to the condition as substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder, or SIPD.

To be diagnosed with SIPD, you must suffer from hallucinations, delusions or a combination of the two. You must also meet other key criteria. First, your symptoms must appear in certain circumstances. Specifically, they must occur while you are either:

  • Actively under the influence of a drug
  • Withdrawing from the effects of a drug

The drug in question must also have a known ability to trigger psychosis. 

Crucially, a doctor must determine that your symptoms are not caused by a separate mental illness. In addition, they must not occur only while you are in a delirious mental state.

Finally, your symptoms must seriously disrupt your normal ability to function. Cases of SIPD account for anywhere from 7% to 25% of all first-time bouts of psychosis. 

Symptoms of Drug-Induced Psychosis

The symptoms of drug-induced psychosis are basically the same as the core symptoms of any psychotic illness. The main difference is that drugs are the source of those symptoms.

As with psychotic mental illness, the specific effects of the condition vary from person to person.

What Types of Drugs Can Trigger Psychosis

What Types of Drugs Can Trigger Psychosis

A wide variety of drugs can trigger bouts of psychosis. Some of these drugs are illegal, including:

  • Cocaine
  • Illegally made amphetamine or methamphetamine
  • LSD and other hallucinogens

However, others are legal medications. Examples here include:

  • Prescription opioids
  • Legally made stimulants
  • Some antidepressants
  • Steroids
  • Some seizure medications
  • Certain medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease

Another prime potential source of psychosis is marijuana/cannabis. Today, this drug straddles the line between being legal and illegal. The drugs most closely linked to episodes of psychosis are:

  • Amphetamine
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens

You are especially at-risk if you use any of these drugs in high amounts. 

Variable Timeline for Psychotic Episodes

Psychosis does not always last for the same amount of time. This means that there is a variable timeline for psychotic episodes. Most people experience a rapid onset of symptoms. Once these symptoms appear they may only last for a few days.

However, they may also linger on for weeks. Once you experience drug-induced psychosis, you remain vulnerable to the drug you used. If you take that drug again, chances are high that your psychotic symptoms will reappear. 

Can Drug-Induced Psychosis Be Cured

Can doctors cure drug-induced psychosis? Effective treatments are available. However, to get the help you need, you must first receive an accurate diagnosis. This can be difficult because of the similarities between drug-induced psychosis and psychotic mental illness.

To complicate the situation even further, a person with such an illness can also experience drug-induced episodes. For these reasons, it takes a skilled professional to make an accurate diagnosis.

Therapies for Psychotic Episodes

There are multiple kinds of treatments and therapies for psychotic episodes. If you are still intoxicated, treatment begins with supervised detoxification. This allows you to safely get the drug in question out of your system.

In combination with calm surroundings, this may be all the help you need. That’s especially true if you have a hallucinogen like LSD in your system. 

However, you may also need medication that eases your psychosis symptoms. Many medications used for this purpose are classified as antipsychotics. However, you may also benefit from a sedative or another anti-anxiety medication. 

People recovering from SIPD often need to enroll in a substance treatment program. This is the best way to deal with underlying issues of drug abuse and addiction. Depending on the nature of your problems, your treatment plan may include:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • A combination of medication and therapy

Therapies for psychotic episodes often take place in a group setting. You may also participate in separate family therapy. 

Inpatient Treatment for Psychosis

patient Treatment for Psychosis

Some people recovering from psychosis in a drug rehab can get better as outpatients. However, others need inpatient treatment for psychosis. Inpatient programs give you access to more treatment resources.

They also provide you with a safe, protective recovery environment. This level of care can help you recover from serious, lingering psychosis symptoms. 

Inpatient care is a frequent option for people suffering from dual diagnosis. This means that they have substance problems and an additional mental health issue. People with SIPD meet this definition. Technically, that is true even if you do not have a separate mental illness. 

Long-Term Recovery From Drug-Induced Psychosis

Long-term recovery from drug-induced psychosis must be kept in mind. Why? If you are addicted to a drug, you have a chance of relapsing after receiving treatment. This risk is heightened for people who have experienced a psychotic episode.

In these circumstances, a relapse does not just signal a return to drug abuse. It also produces significant odds that another episode of psychosis will occur. Even if you remain sober for an extended amount of time, this danger remains in effect. 

Several forms of long-term care will help you avoid a relapse. Continued use of medication may be important. However, a greater emphasis is usually placed on such things as:

  • Living in a secure, drug-free home
  • Getting support from peers going through the same experiences
  • Receiving help in securing a job
  • Checking in periodically with your treatment providers

Seek Help for Drug-Induced Psychosis at Emerald Isle

Psychosis is a collection of mental health changes that distort your sense of reality. By themselves, these changes do not qualify as illnesses. Instead, they function as symptoms of illness. Drug-induced psychosis occurs specifically as a result of drug or medication use.

Substances of this type linked most closely to psychosis include hallucinogens, marijuana and cocaine.

No two cases of drug-induced psychosis are exactly the same. Instead, they tend to vary in both their strength and duration. A single episode of psychosis increases your risks for future problems if you use the same drug again.

Fortunately, effective treatments are available from experienced providers. These treatments will help you regain your sense of well-being. They will also help you protect that well-being over time. 

At Emerald Isle, we feature the treatment resources needed to recover from drug-induced psychosis. Those resources do not only include options that address psychosis itself. They also include options for treating any underlying substance problems.

Our combined approach helps you in both the short term and long term. In all cases, we customize your treatments to support the needs of your situation.

For more information on our resources for addressing drug-induced psychosis, contact us today.