Are Drugs to Blame? Symptoms of Drug-induced Psychosis

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Are Drugs to Blame? Symptoms of Drug-induced Psychosis

When abused, drugs and alcohol can cause the user to partake in behavior that they normally wouldn’t, or to experience some unusual side effects, but when this goes too far, it may be signs of drug-induced psychosis.

What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-induced psychosis is an episode of psychosis that has been triggered by the use of drugs or alcohol. It often appears to be the result of an underlying mental health issue that has been brought on by substance abuse. Drug-induced psychosis may occur after taking too much of a drug, during drug withdrawal, or as a negative side effect of mixing substances. It can occur with both illicit drugs as well as prescription drugs that are abused and may get worse over time. Typically, drug-induced psychosis draws on the user’s chemical and psychological dependence on the substance and leads them to have a temporary break from reality.

While it sounds extreme, drug-induced psychosis is estimated to occur with 36.5% of methamphetamine users.1 It is a serious matter that often requires the attention of medical experts. It can lead to long-term mental health problems that may hinder that person’s ability to live a normal life. In some cases, it may even lead the person to commit suicide or harm themselves. One study found that as many as 18% of patients who experience a psychotic episode will attempt suicide or practice self-harm before seeking mental health care.


Signs & Symptoms of Drug-Induced Psychosis

It is important to be able to recognize drug-induced psychosis symptoms as soon as possible so that the person experiencing this problem can get treatment at a behavioral healthcare center before their symptoms get worse or they attempt to hurt themselves. If left untreated, substance-abuse psychosis may get worse, especially if the dosage or frequency of the drug use increases.

Some of the most common symptoms of drug-induced psychosis include hallucinations and delusions that appear shortly after drinking or taking the drug that is causing the psychotic episode. Hallucinations are typically auditory or visual experiences of stimuli that are not actually there. Delusions refer to firmly held false beliefs that are not consistent with reality. From the outside, your loved one may appear confused and talk about something that doesn’t make sense. They may even partake in unusual and strange behaviors.  Another common symptom of substance-induced psychosis is often paranoia. Because of these hallucinations, the person may mistakenly believe that something or someone is out to get them.

Drug-induced psychosis can be hard to diagnosis because often, people who are struggling with a mental health problem will turn to drugs or alcohol to cope and self-medicate. In turn, their substance abuse may make their mental health worse. The best way to break this cycle is by addressing both issues at the same time. Our dual diagnosis treatment center in West Palm works with patients in these situations in order to help them overcome both problems.

If you or a loved one is battling substance abuse and struggling with poor mental health, get help now. Learn more about Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, also known as the Center for Alcohol & Drug Studies, by calling 561-220-3981.




  1. ScienceDirect – The prevalence of substance-induced psychotic disorder in methamphetamine misusers: A meta-analysis
  2. BMJ-Journals – High rates of suicide attempt in early-onset psychosis are associated with depression, anxiety and previous self-harm

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