Substance-induced psychosis

This is a confused state (psychosis) that’s primarily caused by substance abuse, by chemical substances.

In a substance-induced psychosis, the symptoms arise quickly and are relatively brief in duration – hours to days – until the effects of the substance wear off. Disorientation, memory problems and visual hallucinations are the most common symptoms.

Certain drugs are associated with the development of psychotic disorders: Hash, cocaine, speed, amphetamines, and hallucinogens, such as LSD, ecstasy and psilocybin.

The diagnosis is not always easy. Sometimes an acute psychosis occurs. Other times drugs can induce a more serious psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia in those who are already predisposed.

It’s common for schizophrenia to develop after taking a substance that affects the brain, even if the substance is often used to relieve the symptoms of an emerging psychotic disorder. In some cases this is referred to as self-medication. Unfortunately it worsens the psychotic symptoms, and it may be come harder to make a diagnosis. It also makes it hard for the families. We do not know what the person is experiencing, and when we know that drugs were taken, we can erroneously assume that this is the cause of the psychosis.

*All he needs is a puff of hash, and his paranoia and other symptoms return with a vengeance.

The presence of narcotic substances in the body may appear in urine and blood tests. Such tests are important for distinguishing between substance-induced psychosis and other forms.

Drug abuse may be a disaster for those who already have a psychotic disorder – it will often hasten a new episode. Even if it can be difficult, family and friends should try to advise against such abuse. Anyone who may be predisposed to a psychotic disorder should also be sternly warned against using marijuana, cocaine, speed, and other substances mentioned above. Nor is abusing alcohol were a person have had these kinds of experiences.

The most serious outcome is that after repeated episodes the psychosis can begin to take on a life of its own and finally become schizophrenia, sometimes incurable.