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Drug-induced psychosis is a guest no one wants in their mental health—it crashes in uninvited, bringing with it a suitcase full of delusions, hallucinations, and a disconnection from reality.

Let’s take a look at the unnerving landscape of drug-induced psychosis, comparing it to its distant cousin, ‘normal’ psychosis, and discuss the long-term effects of certain drugs that can lead us down this rabbit hole.

The Brain on Drugs: A Chemical Imbalance

At its core, drug-induced psychosis is a temporary condition where a person experiences hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking, triggered by the use or overuse of various substances. It happens when the drugs interfere with the brain’s chemical balance, particularly impacting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are crucial for mood, perception, and cognition.

To understand drug-induced psychosis, we have to look at the brain’s neurochemistry. Drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and LSD act as chemical bullies, hijacking the brain’s systems. They can cause an excessive release of dopamine. This flood disrupts the normal communication between neurons, leading to altered perceptions, emotions, and thoughts.

In simpler terms, if your brain were a city, dopamine is the traffic that flows through it. Drugs act like a rogue traffic controller, sending too many cars down the same street, leading to a chaotic gridlock—a fitting metaphor for the confusion and disarray experienced during psychosis.

A woman's face reflected in a mirror with shattered pieces, representing the fragmented perception experienced in drug-induced psychosis.

What Causes Drug-Induced Psychosis

Not all drugs RSVP to the psychosis party, but those that do, surely make an entrance.

  • Stimulants (like cocaine and methamphetamine): These ones increase dopamine levels and lead the brain on a manic joyride, often ending in psychosis.
  • Hallucinogens (like LSD and magic mushrooms): These substances are the illusionists, distorting perception and causing hallucinations and delusions.
  • Cannabis: The laid-back guest, often underestimated, but in high doses or in vulnerable individuals, can trigger psychosis.
  • Prescription Drugs (like certain ADHD medications): These drugs, when abused, can also lead to psychotic episodes.

Long Term Issues of Drug Induced Psychosis

While drug-induced psychosis typically fades as the drug exits the body, long-term or heavy use of certain substances can lead to persistent psychotic disorders. Think of it as the party guest who overstays their welcome, long after the music has stopped. Stimulants like methamphetamine are particularly notorious for this.

Some Sobering Statistics:

  • Around 74% of people in drug treatment centers have experienced drug-induced psychosis.
  • Methamphetamine users are 11 times more likely to develop persistent psychotic symptoms.
  • Regular cannabis users are approximately three times more likely to have a psychotic episode than non-users.

The Innocuous Turned Dangerous

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking some drugs are harmless. The friendly neighborhood cannabis, for example, can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing for the susceptible mind. It’s like playing Russian roulette with your mental health – you never know when the bullet of psychosis might fire.

Treatment of Drug-induced Psychosis

When the unsettling wave of drug-induced psychosis hits, either in yourself or someone else, immediate action is not just helpful; it’s essential.

If You Suspect You’re Experiencing Drug-Induced Psychosis:

  1. Seek a Safe Environment: First and foremost, ensure you’re in a safe place. Remove any potential hazards from your vicinity. If you feel unsafe or unable to secure your environment, don’t hesitate to call a friend or emergency services.
  2. Reach Out for Help: Contact someone you trust. It could be a friend, family member, or healthcare provider. Clearly communicate that you’re having a dangerous experience and need assistance.
  3. Avoid Further Drug Use: Stop using substances. This is crucial in preventing the exacerbation of symptoms.
  4. Stay Calm: While it’s easier said than done, try to remain as calm as possible. Engage in deep breathing or grounding techniques to help manage anxiety and fear.
  5. Seek Professional Help: If the symptoms are overwhelming, or if they don’t start to diminish, seek medical attention as soon as possible.


Prevention Is Key

While treatment is crucial, prevention holds the key to this pandora’s box. Educating ourselves and our loved ones about the risks of drug use, recognizing the early signs of addiction and drug-induced psychosis, and seeking help before it spirals even further are vital steps in avoiding this treacherous journey.

What Next?

Drug-induced psychosis is a stark reminder of the dangers lurking in illicit drug use. It’s a journey to a world that distorts reality, breaks down mental health, and, in the worst cases, leaves lasting scars.

If you or someone you know is battling drug addiction, it’s not too late to seek help. EagleCrest Recovery is more than a treatment center. We offer compassionate, evidence base care that changes lives. Reach out today and let us help you start a new chapter in your life with a better ending.