Drug-induced psychosis can occur when someone ingests a substance and as a result experiences delusions or hallucinations. The psychotic response to the drug can be a reaction to the substance itself, or from substance withdrawal.
Psychotic symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations and abnormal psychomotor behavior (unusual movements due to psychological changes). Drug-induced psychosis results in a complete disconnection from reality that causes a decline in functioning. This disconnection from reality can cause a great deal of distress and anxiety in the person affected. Other symptoms of drug-induced psychosis can include erratic behavior, suicidal ideation and the need for hospitalization to prevent danger to self or others.
Drugs That Can Cause Psychosis
One may be tempted to assume that only hallucinogens would cause psychosis, as this class of drugs is well known for these types of side effects. This is not the case. Other drugs that can cause psychosis include inhalants, sedatives, phencyclidine, amphetamines or other stimulants, cocaine and even alcohol. Drug-induced psychosis is less about the specific substance and more about the brain’s response to it.
For people who are predisposed to psychotic disorders, drugs of these types, and even prescription medications can bring out the underlying condition.
Drug-induced psychosis can also manifest differently for different people, depending on the amount of substance used. High doses of cocaine can produce psychosis quickly (often within minutes), whereas it may take several days or weeks of heavy alcohol consumption to induce psychosis. Alcohol-induced psychosis usually produces auditory hallucinations, whereas psychosis from cannabis is generally related to persecutory delusions, anxiety and a feeling of separation from self.
Treatment For Drug-Related Psychosis
Treatment for psychosis and substance use disorders vary, depending on the assessment of the medical and psychiatric professionals involved. Second-generation antipsychotics are often used to help reduce psychotic symptoms, alongside the use of psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions.
Often the lingering question with substance-induced psychosis is, “What are the lasting implications?” The likelihood of additional psychotic episodes is higher than average, considering the possibility of an underlying mental health condition. Cessation of substance use is advised to help prevent future episodes. Medication and therapy can help alleviate the transition to abstinence.
If drug or alcohol use has taken precedence in your life, The Recovery Village can help. Reach out and talk with a representative about how individualized treatment can work for you.
Psychcentral. “What’s the Difference Between a D[…] a Hallucination?” October 8, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Hallucinogens.” Accessed March 29, 2019.
Medshadow.org. “Drug Classifications, Schedule I, II, III, IV, V” (n.d.). Accessed March 29, 2019.
Han, Bernadine. M.D., M.S.; Avery, Jonathan, M.D. “Medications Can Help Patients With Su[…]chotic Disorders.” Jan. 22, 2016. PsychiatryOnline.org. Accessed March 20, 2019.
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