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Drug Induced Psychosis

Drug induced psychosis is the term applied to psychotic episodes caused by drug or alcohol abuse.

The prolonged use of drugs like crystal methamphetamine (ice), cocaine, cannabis, alcohol and hallucinogens can bring on symptoms of psychosis; however, sudden and unmonitored withdrawal from these substances may have the same effect.

Pre-existing mental health issues are also likely to be worsened by excessive drug use, even if the initial symptoms were not caused by the substance abuse itself.

What is Psychosis?

Firstly, psychosis is a lot more common than most people know.

According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) 1 in 300 Australians will experience a psychotic episode.

Sadly, the social stigma attached to the term still causes shame that can prevent sufferers and their families from reaching out to seek help.

The main symptoms of psychosis are delusions and hallucinations.

Persons suffering delusions can become absolutely convinced of things that often seem absurd to their friends and family. They may be certain that events took place which never actually happened. They may experience panic attacks due to fear of being harmed in some way by people close to them or even perfect strangers.

Hallucinations are experienced in a more physical way than delusion. They may manifest visually (seeing things which are simply not there) or auditory (hearing voices). Auditory hallucinations in particular are strongly associated with schizophrenia, one of the most common psychotic disorders.

If these symptoms occur over a period of time, the sufferer may gradually lose touch with reality.

What are the early warning signs of drug induced psychosis?

Psychotic individuals may:

  • experience strong feelings of confusion, fear or agitation for no apparent reason
  • become extremely lethargic
  • display erratic and sometimes violent behaviour
  • have difficulty keeping up with conversation
  • behave inappropriately in social situations (i.e. sudden hysterical laughter, outbursts of rage)
  • retreat into their shell and isolate themselves socially

Psychosis and substance use

Drug and alcohol abuse affects and alters our brain chemistry. Drug and alcohol dependence and sustained use can cause serious damage and long-lasting symptoms of mental illness.

Ice, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol and hallucinogens are deemed the substances most likely to cause drug induced psychosis.

However, sadly, drug abuse is just as likely to serve as ‘self-medication’ for those already suffering from psychotic episodes. This can create a vicious circle of symptoms and substance abuse that can entrap sufferers and their families unless they are brave enough to seek help.

Diagnosis

As the symptoms of pre-existing and drug-induced mental illness are almost identical, proper diagnosis is crucial in order to design an effective treatment plan.

If a psychotic episode is brought on by drugs, the symptoms will disappear when the patient becomes sober. However, if the drugs are not the cause for the psychosis, symptoms will continue after the patient stops using.

Treatment

At the Hader Clinic Queensland we offer a Dual Diagnosis Program and a Dual Treatment Plan, meaning we don’t ignore any of our patients’ symptoms or parts of their medical history.

We believe in providing counselling for mental health and addiction problems side by side, helping our patients tackle all aspects of their condition, allowing them to develop coping skills for the long term.

Find out more

Mental Health and Addiction
Diagnosing Mental Health Disorders
Common Co-Occurring Disorders
Mental Health Effects of Ice
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