Drug-Induced Psychosis Explained

Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes a temporary break from reality. While it can be a symptom of illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it can also result from drug use or withdrawal.

Symptoms of Drug-Induced Psychosis

The onset of drug-induced psychosis is often gradual, with toxicity becoming more dangerous as the dosage increases. If you have an underlying mental health condition, drug use will likely worsen your symptoms. However, extensive drug and alcohol use can cause psychosis even in people without a co-occurring mental illness.

During a psychotic episode, you may hallucinate or have irrational beliefs. Since these can seem very real in the moment, people having a psychotic break may not realize they are in a mental health crisis.

Some hallmarks of drug-induced psychosis include:

  • Paranoia – thinking others are watching you or out to harm you
  • Delusions – believing things that have no basis in reality
  • Hallucinations – seeing, feeling, hearing or smelling things that are not there
  • Panic attacks – sudden, intense feelings of terror for no apparent reason
  • Confusion – an altered mental state in which you may not know who or where you are

What Drugs Can Cause a Psychotic Break?

Drugs that are most likely to cause psychotic symptoms include cannabis, cocaine and psychedelics. Some prescription medications, like muscle relaxers, can also induce psychosis when taken in larger-than-prescribed doses.

Additionally, combining substances like alcohol and high-THC marijuana can result in a psychotic episode. Many cannabis products available today have a THC concentration above 10%. This psychoactive component binds to receptors in the brain, causing an altered sense of reality. Heavy marijuana use is also more likely to cause a dependency, particularly among younger people.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Treatment

While drug-induced psychosis can be terrifying, it typically ends once the substance has fully cleared your brain and body. Medically supervised detoxification can manage your withdrawal symptoms, remove all traces of drugs and ensure you are stable enough to progress through the next stages of treatment.

If you have an underlying mental health condition that caused you to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, a combination of therapy and medications such as antipsychotics can be part of a successful treatment plan.

Saving Lives for More than 50 Years

Overcoming drug-induced psychosis is possible with professional help. For example, a therapist can guide you to explore the thoughts and moods you experience before psychotic episodes occur, manage your emotions and be aware of triggers.

Cumberland Heights has been changing lives since 1966. As the first treatment center in Tennessee to receive accreditation from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, we uphold evidence-based principles and have a firm commitment to the ethical implementation of addiction treatment.

Our experienced addiction professionals provide a safe and nonjudgmental environment where clients can receive personalized care for co-occurring disorders like addiction and psychosis. To learn more or request an assessment, contact us today.