Psychosis is defined as an altered mental state that forces a person to see the world differently than others for a short period of time. Drug-induced psychosis, or “stimulant psychosis” is a side effect of using stimulant drugs or other substances. A negative reaction to prescription drugs or alcohol can also cause these symptoms.
Episodes of psychosis are defined by delusions or hallucinations. When experiencing these symptoms, the person can feel like they are no longer living in reality. Delusions are irrational theories or beliefs a person has. They hold onto these beliefs even after they have been proven untrue.
The specific type of delusions experienced can vary from person to person, but an example would be a person believing they are responsible for bad things happening to another person. People could also believe that they have an illness.
Hallucinations are more focused on a person’s senses. They are brief periods of altered perception. People may experience disturbances in sight or sound that aren’t really there. Someone experiencing hallucinations feels, sees, and hears them so intensely that the person believes they are real.
If someone is already experiencing these symptoms in relation to mental illness, taking recreational drugs could make them worse. Drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and other hallucinogens can cause psychosis and paranoia to develop when taken for a long time. Many times, a person can be diagnosed with an addiction to one of these substances, and also be diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis. This is what’s known as a dual diagnosis.
A dual diagnosis can be challenging because it affects the type and amount of treatment options available. Experts say, in the event of dual diagnosis, the most effective treatment is to treat both disorders separately.
Causes of Drug-Induced Psychosis
Taking too much of a particular drug can cause feelings of paranoia, or an altered perception, to develop. When this happens, it’s known as drug-induced psychosis. These symptoms may also occur from mixing multiples substances, and can even happen during recovery if a person is going through withdrawal.
Drug-induced psychosis can also be triggered by prescription drugs. In fact, there are times when a drug being taken to relieve symptoms of a mental health problem can, in turn, cause psychosis to develop. It’s best to speak with a healthcare professional if this happens. A doctor can work with you to determine whether or not symptoms would still continue if the drug were to be stopped.
If you, or someone you know, are diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, the best option is to talk to someone who is familiar with the disorder. A specialist that is familiar with dealing with drug and alcohol abuse may be able to help get you started. They will work with you to relieve the symptoms of psychosis, before moving onto any pre-existing mental health conditions that may have contributed to the development of these symptoms.
When you talk with your doctor, they will come up with a specialized plan for you to manage, cope with, and eventually overcome the effects of drug-induced psychosis. Typically, the first step of this plan involves a medically-assisted detox program. During this program, medical professionals will help by giving techniques to deal with withdrawal symptoms. They will also help a patient to continue to live a sober life in the future.
In an effort to promote a sober life in the long-term, medical professionals may recommend a secondary care, or after care facility, when a resident finishes their detox.
Because drug-induced psychosis is a product of substance abuse, when the psychosis is diagnosed it typically creates a situation of dual diagnosis. This can also be referred to as co-existing conditions. This changes the way a doctor or counselor has to approach treatment, and may limit the options available.
Therapy is a large part of a person’s treatment plan when treating drug-induced psychosis. There are a wide variety of therapy formats, but the most popular in treating drug-induced psychosis are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy.
CBT is the standard format we all picture when we hear the word “therapy”. Talking with a counselor in this way allows a person to explore the thoughts, moods, and triggers they go through before experiencing a psychotic episode.
This type of therapy can also be helpful in preventing relapse. Sometimes feelings of depression or anxiety cause patients to turn to using. As the symptoms of the underlying disorder worsen, a patient may take more and more of their substance of choice. Before they are even aware, their use of the substance may develop into a substance abuse problem. When going through recovery, it’s easy to feel a need to use again to deal with those underlying feelings of depression and anxiety. CBT can give patients new, healthy techniques to cope with anxiety and depression, without turning back to drugs.
In addition to CBT, family therapy is also a popular option when treating drug-induced psychosis. Drug-induced psychosis, and the symptoms associated with it, can be very serious. Bringing family and friends into therapy sessions will help ensure that a person suffering with this disorder has a strong, stable network of support at home.
These group sessions help the patient’s family to understand what they are truly going through. Talking things out in this way gives the patient an outlet to share their experiences, can prevent relapse, and can help the person handle their symptoms.
In addition to therapy, anti-psychosis medication may be prescribed as well. If a patient’s underlying condition is something that involves psychotic episodes as a symptom, a medication like Clozaril may be recommended. Your doctor may recommend taking this for an extended period of time to manage the delusions and hallucinations that are part of drug-induced psychosis. You healthcare professional may recommend adding this to your treatment if the hallucinations and delusions are extremely frequent or severe.
Proper diagnosis and treatment of drug-induced psychosis is important. If the symptoms aren’t identified and managed, they could eventually lead to other conditions. If left untreated, drug-induced psychosis could lead to the person dissociating from reality even further. In extreme cases, they may even develop schizophrenia.