Drug-Induced Psychosis Caused by Meth or Marijuana

Drug-induced psychosis typically occurs due to a substance use disorder.

Drug-Induced Psychosis

Table of Contents

Psychotic symptoms are prevalent among individuals utilizing psychoactive drugs like meth or marijuana with high toxicity. According to one study, a significant percentage of individuals dependent on certain substances may experience psychotic symptoms due to use or withdrawal from the drug1 

Drug-induced psychosis typically occurs due to a substance use disorder. It is imperative to note that the effects of the condition may vary from person to person. Hence, knowing more about the condition, especially those due to meth, marijuana, or a prescription drug, can be extremely beneficial.    

What is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-induced psychosis is a condition that describes psychotic episodes due to abuse of a certain substance, including meth and marijuana. Other names for this condition are substance-induced psychotic disorder or stimulant-induced psychosis. Individuals experience stimulant-induced psychosis due to the intake of high amounts of certain drug-containing stimulants and other potential factors.

In most cases, substance-induced psychosis occurs when an individual has an underlying mental health condition. Hence, certain substances with high toxicity may serve as triggers for an individual prone to psychotic disorder.  

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis generally describes delusions or hallucinations that do not relate to reality. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it’s a condition characterized as an episode when an individual experiences a break from reality. Delusions in psychotic disorder also describe irrational beliefs that an individual holds as true, even when evidence proves the belief wrong.2

Hallucinations are a significant part of psychotic disorder. They are perceptual distortions that occur without any external effect. Hallucinations may be visual, olfactory, or auditory. Note that individuals may experience a loss of touch with reality, even without having primary psychosis. In those cases, the medical condition is referred to as “secondary psychotic disorder.”

Apart from meth and marijuana, other substances that can induce psychotic disorder include amphetamines, cocaine, hallucinogens, opioids, and phencyclidine (PCP).  

How Long Does Drug-Induced Psychosis Last?

Symptoms of substance-induced psychosis do not have a specific timeline. Some psychotic experiences may last for a short period (few hours) and others for long periods (weeks or months). The duration of stimulant-induced psychosis may depend on several factors. Some of the factors determining the duration of substance-induced psychosis include the drug type and frequency of use.

Substance-induced psychosis may occur during substance use disorder, but it also emerges after use stops and withdrawal symptoms occur. According to a study involving various participants, 60% of cases with psychotic symptoms got better within a month of stopping the substance use.3

Approximately 30% of individuals experienced psychotic disorder between one to six months. Ten percent experienced the condition for over six months of stopping drug use. According to the same study, most individuals experiencing persistent psychosis symptoms had a family history of mental illness. These individuals also experienced substance use early and had long histories of use. 

Symptoms of Drug-Induced Psychosis

Substance-induced psychosis is noticeable due to the visible symptoms of the condition. Note that the signs of the psychotic disorder may range from mild to severe. Most substances, including hallucinogens, cause symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. Stimulant-induced psychosis may also cause a more severe form of hallucinations that may get worse with time.

Some symptoms of substance-induced psychosis may also occur due to certain drug combinations or withdrawal from substances like meth or marijuana. They may also be due to a long history of substance use disorder and dependence. There is a high tendency for drugs that change brain chemistry to cause psychosis, including prescription medications and OTC drugs.

For better comprehension, here are the symptoms of substance-induced psychosis: 

Delusions

An individual may adopt certain false beliefs because of the inability to tell the difference between what is real and imagined. Common types of delusions include erotomaniac, grandiose, persecutory, somatic, or mixed. An individual with erotomaniac delusions may believe another person is in love with them.

Individuals with grandiose delusions have an over-inflated sense of knowledge, power, or identity. For persecutory delusion, it involves believing that an individual or organization is trying to cause harm. Individuals experiencing stimulant-induced psychosis are not aware that any of those delusions are not real.

Hallucinations

This symptom describes a condition where the individual has sensory experiences that seem real but are not. For example, individuals with hallucinations may hear, feel, or smell an object that is not real. Generally, hallucination is commonly associated with mental illness or the side effects of certain medications.

If an individual experiences hallucination, consult a mental health professional or psychiatrist for immediate care. There are different types of hallucinations, including visual, olfactory, gustatory, auditory, or tactile hallucination.

The visual involves sight, olfactory involves smell, gustatory relates to taste, auditory refers to hearing, and tactile describes hallucination by feeling.  

Causes of Drug-Induced Psychosis

Substance-induced psychosis may occur due to various reasons, which include addiction, tolerance, or withdrawal. Family history of the psychotic disorder may also be one of the underlying factors causing substance-induced psychosis in teenagers and adults. For better comprehension, here are some of the most significant potential causes of substance-induced psychosis: 

Tolerance

Tolerance signifies that the body becomes used to a certain substance and requires more of it to feel the typical effects. When an individual develops tolerance, which is a diminished response to substances like meth or marijuana, it may result in stimulant-induced psychosis. For example, an individual with tolerance may increase the dosage of a certain prescription drug for the sole purpose of feeling certain effects.

Note that dependence typically accompanies tolerance. Similar to tolerance, dependence occurs in individuals due to adaptation to a certain substance. It’s important to speak to a doctor when signs of dependence are observed in a loved one.  

Addiction

Addiction or substance use disorder is a significant cause of psychotic disorder. Long-term substance use disorder may result in a significant change in brain chemistry or brain structure. Hence, when an individual stops consuming the drugs, there is a tendency to experience visible psychosis symptoms. 

Negative Withdrawal Process

When an individual abruptly stops consuming substances like meth or marijuana after long-term consumption, it may trigger symptoms of psychotic disorder. Note that it also applies to a prescription drug or OTC medication. For this reason, it is vital to consult a mental health expert for proper withdrawal management.4

Diagnosis of Drug-Induced Psychosis

Licensed doctors make a diagnosis of substance-induced psychosis when there are evident psychotic symptoms that are severe. These signs should be beyond the typical psychological drug withdrawal symptoms. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), an individual needs to meet certain criteria for diagnosis.

Here are the significant criteria according to the DSM-V:

  • The symptoms are not more associated with psychotic disorders that are not drug-induced 
  • Presence of substantial evidence from lab results, patient history, a medical examination that symptoms of psychotic disorder developed due to drug use or within a month of substance withdrawal. 
  • Presence of delusions and hallucinations 
  • During a delirium episode, psychotic symptoms do not occur
  • Symptoms result in a significant level of distress in daily living 

Note that when an individual gets a diagnosis for psychosis and also has a dependency on a certain substance, it may stand as a dual diagnosis. In a dual diagnosis, the underlying mental condition may undergo treatment independent of a substance use disorder.

Treatment of Drug-Induced Psychosis

If an individual gets diagnosed with substance-induced psychosis, seek immediate treatment from a medical professional. Doctors typically determine whether the psychosis symptoms an individual develops are due to trauma, substance-induced psychosis, a different medical condition. Here are some of the fundamental treatment procedures: 

Detox

A major procedure that mental health professionals use is removing the substance with high toxicity from the body. Detox is a sensitive medical process to manage the potential withdrawal symptoms due to certain substances safely. As a treatment option, detoxification should not be a home affair.

Due to the nature of detoxification, doctors advise individuals to undergo outpatient or inpatient programs to prevent life-threatening outcomes. The process of detox involves evaluation, stabilization, and preparation for a treatment program. Potential side effects of detox include nausea, mood swings, insomnia, and anxiety.  

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for substance-induced psychosis is psychotherapy that involves engaging individuals to examine and challenge their psychotic experience. The treatment procedure also ensures that the individual develops efficient coping strategies to manage the psychotic symptoms.6

Doctors typically recommend CBT alongside antipsychotic medication to ensure individuals improve their occupational and social problems. Note that there’s little to risk in undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy, but individuals may explore painful feelings and emotions in the procedure. 

Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

A comprehensive addiction treatment signifies the process of providing an individualized treatment plan. It involves identifying the specific problems that the individual faces and offering the most suitable treatment plan.

In comprehensive addiction treatment, the specialist provides an in-depth evaluation and assessment of the patient’s mental health. It may involve determining factors contributing to the use of substances like meth or marijuana.  

Antipsychotic Medication

This medication typically accompanies treatment plans like Cognitive Behavioral therapy. Another name for the antipsychotic medication is neuroleptics, and they are typically meant for various mental health conditions. Note that these drugs may have short and long-term effects of reducing the possibility of a psychotic episode. 

Outlook

Drug-induced psychosis occurs due to a series of possible factors, including substance use disorder. Symptoms of the condition may range from mild to severe and require immediate medical intervention. It’s important to consult a doctor if any of the signs of the condition is observed. 

Resources

  1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.07.009
  2. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Psychosis
  3. https://doi.org/10.3969/j.issn.1002-0829.2012.05.004
  4. https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6235075/

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