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Drug-Induced Psychosis: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery

image representing drug induced psychosis

Psychosis is a condition affecting mental health that temporarily alters a person’s perception of reality. When psychosis is induced by drug use, it’s known as drug-induced psychosis. This condition involves experiencing symptoms like delusions or hallucinations because of substance abuse.

What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-induced psychosis is clinically described as substance-induced psychotic disorder and occurs when a psychotic episode is directly linked to the misuse of addictive substances. This condition can arise from excessive use of a particular drug, negative interactions between different substances, during withdrawal, or in individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions.

While it’s inaccurate to say that specific drugs can instantly cause a severe mental illness in someone without prior issues, pre-existing mental health conditions can increase the likelihood of substance abuse. In those predisposed to psychotic episodes, excessive intoxication may trigger these episodes.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Symptoms

Here are the criteria for substance-induced psychotic disorder outlined in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders):

Criterion A: presence of delusions or hallucinations 

You need to have either delusions (strong false beliefs) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there).

Criterion B: evidence of substance use connection 

These delusions or hallucinations should have started while you were under the influence of a substance (like drugs, medication, or toxins), during withdrawal from a substance, or shortly after using it. The substance you used must be known to cause these kinds of symptoms.

Criterion C: rule out other psychotic disorders

Your symptoms should not be better explained by a different type of psychotic disorder that’s not related to substance use. This means that:

  • Your symptoms didn’t start before you used the substance.
  • They continue for a significant time (like around 1 month) after you stopped using the substance.
  • There’s other proof that you have a different kind of psychotic disorder unrelated to substance use (like a history of similar episodes without substance use).

Criterion D: not linked to delirium

Your symptoms shouldn’t occur only during a state of delirium, which is a temporary mental confusion.

Criterion E: causes distress or impairment 

These symptoms should cause you significant distress or affect your ability to function in social, work, or other important areas of your life.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Treatment

Psychosis is a serious, yet often temporary symptom, not a standalone condition. It can be severe enough to necessitate emergency care, with a significant risk of self-harm among those who’ve experienced it.

How to treat substance-induced psychosis, then? The solution seems straightforward: stop using the substance. Addiction complicates this, though, making discontinuation challenging and withdrawal symptoms almost certain. For those with mental illnesses, self-medication becomes a coping mechanism, while diminished impulse control undermines efforts to abstain.

Effective treatment is key. There are many options for managing drug and alcohol addiction, including medically supervised detox to mitigate severe symptoms like psychosis. Following detox, ongoing rehabilitation can help prevent relapse and recurrence of psychosis.

For pre-existing mental illnesses, appropriate treatment is vital to avoid self-medication. Various medications are available for depressive and bipolar disorders, with mood stabilizers and non-addictive antidepressants often effective. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is instrumental in developing healthier thought patterns and coping mechanisms.

In cases of severe mental illness with frequent psychotic episodes, antipsychotic medications, combined with antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, are often necessary. Finding the right medication mix can take time.

Group therapy, especially for those with schizophrenia, offers a supportive environment of shared experiences, complementing individual therapy approaches.

Two women discuss the how long does a drug-induced psychosis last

Helping Someone with Drug-Induced Psychosis

Assisting someone with drug-induced psychosis is a delicate balance of empathy, awareness, and action. It begins with understanding the symptoms: hallucinations, delusions, and altered perceptions. Early detection is key in enabling prompt intervention and emergency medical assistance.

Creating a soothing environment is highly beneficial. A calm, quiet space can significantly reduce the intensity of psychotic symptoms. When communicating, remain calm and clear, avoiding confrontations or arguments about their delusions. Instead, focus on expressing concern and a willingness to help.

Gently suggest the importance of seeking medical attention, emphasizing that healthcare professionals are equipped to offer the necessary care. Being actively involved in their treatment process, from attending appointments to understanding treatment options, can provide invaluable support.

Compassion is at the heart of this support system. Approach the situation without judgment, focusing on their well-being and recovery. At the same time, educating yourself about drug-induced psychosis and addiction enriches your understanding and enhances the support you can offer.

That said, set healthy boundaries for yourself while offering support. This not only protects your well-being but also ensures that the help you provide is sustainable and effective. Encouraging a wider support network, involving friends and family, can also provide a more robust foundation for their recovery journey.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Recovery

If you’re diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, it often means that you’re dealing with two separate issues: an addiction to substances and an underlying mental health problem. To effectively get better, you need to treat both separately. First, you’ll go through a detox program under medical supervision. This is to help your body get used to not having the drug and to handle withdrawal symptoms. After that, you’ll start a treatment plan for any mental health issues that might have played a role in your psychosis.

Just getting the drug out of your system might stop the psychosis, but if you have a mental health condition like anxiety or depression that led to drug use, or if you already have a condition like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, you’ll need more treatment for these.

If you used drugs to deal with a mental illness and this led to psychosis, doctors need to figure out if your symptoms are just because of the drug or if they would happen even without the drug. Drug-induced psychosis typically becomes clear when your symptoms get better after you stop using the drug. But other symptoms like pulling away from people or losing motivation might slowly lead to more serious issues like delusions and hallucinations.

If your mental health condition naturally includes episodes of psychosis, then you might need to take certain medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, or specific drugs like clozapine for a longer time, especially if you often have delusions or hallucinations or if they’re really intense.


Does drug-induced psychosis go away?

For those wondering can drug-induced psychosis be permanent, it may resolve once the substance is out of the system, but this depends on various factors, including the type of drug used and individual health conditions.

What are the long-term effects of drug-induced psychosis?

The long-term effects of drug psychosis can include cognitive impairments, chronic mental health issues, and an increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder.

Can drug-induced psychosis cause schizophrenia?

While drug-induced psychosis does not itself cause schizophrenia, it can unmask or accelerate the onset of schizophrenia in individuals predisposed to the condition.

a man celebrating which represents learning what drugs cause drug induced psychosis

Find Treatment for Drug Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

Drug addiction is a chronic condition, but it is also highly treatable. If you feel that you require addiction treatment, but you have no idea where to get started, reach out to Drug Rehabs Centers in Southern California.

If you are dependent on drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications, we can help you find licensed medical detox centers throughout California, enabling you to kickstart your recovery the right way.

We can also put you in touch with reputable inpatient rehabs and outpatient treatment centers near you, so you can address the psychological side of addiction.

Call (844) 739-2005 today and begin your recovery tomorrow.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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