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What Drugs Cause Psychosis?

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Recreational substance abuse can expose a person to considerable physical and psychological harm. In some cases, drug abuse can even lead to psychosis. Knowing what drugs cause psychosis can help you protect yourself and keep your loved ones safe.

What Is Psychosis?

Psychosis is a mental health term that refers to impairments in how a person perceives and interacts with their environment. Common psychotic symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, grossly disorganized behaviors, and negative symptoms:

  • Hallucinations involve sensing something that isn’t actually there. The two most common types of hallucinations are audio (hearing voices or other sounds) and visual (seeing people, objects, or light patterns). Hallucinations can also involve the senses of smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory) and touch (tactile).
  • Delusions are rigid beliefs that are demonstrably untrue. A person who has delusions may believe that they are in a relationship with a famous person who they have never actually met. Other examples of delusions include believing that you are being sent coded messages through films or TV shows, or that you are being secretly persecuted or spied on.
  • Disordered thinking refers to an inability to organize and express your thoughts. This may include using words or sounds that have no apparent meaning to anyone but you, selecting words according to their sound or rhyming ability instead of their definitions, and responding to questions with lengthy statements that are completely unrelated to the original query.
  • Grossly disorganized behaviors can include dressing in a bizarre fashion, acting in an exaggeratedly immature manner, and holding one’s body in strange positions.
  • Negative symptoms can include lack of facial expressiveness, speaking in a flat or monotone voice, and exhibiting little to no interest in interacting with other people.

Psychosis can result from several causes, including:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Brief psychotic disorder
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Some prescription medications
  • Dual diagnosis disorders
  • Substance abuse

People who develop psychosis as the result of substance abuse typically experience hallucinations and/or delusions. Disordered thinking, grossly disorganized behaviors, and negative symptoms usually result from other causes, such as mental illnesses.

What Drugs Cause Psychosis?

As we established with the final two bullet points near the end of the previous section, using some prescription medications and abusing some substances can cause a person to have a psychotic episode. Obviously, most medications and recreational substances don’t have this type of an effect – so, what drugs cause psychosis?

A February 2017 article on drug-induced psychosis in the journal Experimental Neurobiology focused on the following five substances:

  • Amphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Scopolamine

The authors of this article reported that the psychotic effects of these substances result from how the drugs disrupt the functioning of neurotransmitters, which deliver messages throughout the central nervous system.

Though the substances named in the February 2017 study are commonly associated with drug-induced psychosis, listing them does not fully answer the question, “What drugs cause psychosis?”

For example, people who abuse the following drugs in large amounts or for an extended period of time can also develop psychosis:

How Is Drug-Induced Psychosis Treated?

Now that we know what drugs cause psychosis, the next logical question is, how can drug-induced psychosis be treated?

Treating drug-induced psychosis often has two goals: alleviating the psychosis and addressing the patient’s substance abuse problem.

The first step toward these goals is getting the patient to end their substance use. Though drug-induced psychosis can be extremely distressing, it is usually a temporary experience. When the person ends their use of the substance that prompted the psychosis, their psychotic symptoms will typically begin to dissipate.

Depending on the nature of a person’s addiction, they may require detoxification to help them stop using the drug that they have become dependent upon. Detox is a short-term program that may incorporate both medical and therapeutic support to help people get through withdrawal safely and with minimal discomfort. 

Once the person has temporarily ended their substance abuse, the next important steps involve helping them build a foundation for long-term recovery. Drug addiction is a chronic disease. This means that treatment won’t “cure” a person – but it can empower them to manage their symptoms, resist future urges, and live a drug-free life.

Services that can help a person accomplish this goal include:

If a person’s struggles with substance abuse and addiction are related to a history of untreated trauma, services such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy may also be extremely valuable. To prepare a person for successful, long-term recovery, it is important to identify and address the full scope of their needs. This often includes providing care for co-occurring dual diagnosis disorders.

Begin Treatment for Drug Addiction in Nashville

If you are seeking professional help for an addiction to alcohol or another substance, Nashville Treatment Solutions may be the ideal place for you. Our drug rehab in Nashville, Tennessee, offers detox, Partial Hospitalization Programming, Intensive Outpatient Program, and multiple levels of outpatient care for adults whose lives have been disrupted by substance use disorders and certain co-occurring mental health concerns. With the guidance and support of our skilled treatment professionals, you can end your drug use and find your path toward lifelong recovery.

When you’re ready to start living the healthier life you deserve, our team is here for you. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.