Substance-Induced Psychosis — Symptoms and Remedies

During the turn of the 19th century, uncontrolled prescription of addictive medicines and rampant use of drugs like cocaine, cannabis and hallucinogens for treating mental conditions was commonplace. Many renowned writers, painters, and even doctors took to these drugs to heighten their awareness and improve their sharpness.

However, after years of abuse and addiction, and countless researches coupled with real life experiences, it had dawned on the medical fraternity and the people at large that these substances can actually exacerbate mental conditions and become highly addictive. Today, they are seen as extremely perilous, contributing to the United States’ prescription drug abuse epidemic.

Long-term use of certain drugs is even associated with psychotic symptoms, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. When an addiction and a mental condition affect a person simultaneously, he is said to be suffering from dual diagnosis. Recognizing the symptoms of dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders is crucial to the treatment. However, it is also usually difficult and calls for expert intervention at the earliest.

Identifying the symptoms of drug-induced psychosis is difficult in someone who already had mental disorders, i.e. before starting the abuse of drugs. In that case, the symptoms will persist even after abstinence from the drug. But if it is a drug-induced psychosis, the symptoms will dissipate after quitting the drug. However, that may not be true for prolonged users of such drugs, as the symptoms might continue to appear even after years of withdrawing from the drug.

Symptoms of drug-induced psychosis

Cocaine and amphetamines: Researches reveal that 50 percent cocaine users exhibit symptoms of a psychotic disorder. When it is used intravenously with the help of a needle, the risk goes up manifold. The effects of cocaine and amphetamines can last for months and years even after withdrawing the drug. Prolonged abuse can lead to debilitating effects, like memory loss and dismal concentration.

Alcohol: Dual diagnosis patients with schizophrenia are more likely to abuse alcohol along with cocaine and marijuana. Excessive drinking can manifest in slurred speech, mental confusion, and disorientation. Effects tend to linger on prolonged use and even after withdrawing from it.

Hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs: Certain drugs like phencyclidine (PCP) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also referred to as psychedelic drugs, bring about effects which are akin to actual psychosis. First-time users may not have psychotic effects, but long-term abuse definitely causes psychosis in abusers.

Sedatives: When an addiction of sedatives like diazepam is severe, it can trigger psychosis in people with effects that are similar to drinking alcohol. Prolonged use of sedatives results in anxiety, depression, paresthesia, perceptual distortions etc.

Nicotine: Even nicotine addiction can trigger mental condition in abusers. People who are addicted to nicotine are more likely to be depressed than others. People also use nicotine to elevate moods. Hence, excess nicotine use and depression may go hand in hand. The withdrawal symptoms which are quite nagging also tell about the impact it had on a previous user.


Diagnoses of substance-induced mental disorders are difficult and in all probability it will be provisional and followed by repeated revaluation. Most of the acute mental conditions may actually be substance-induced disorders, such as acute suicidality. In order to have a long-term recovery, it is important to first determine if the symptoms are caused by the substance abuse or are manifested due to other reasons such as genetics or traumatic events. In the absence of a proper diagnosis, treatment would be ineffective and short-term.

If a loved one is grappling with a substance abuse problem and is also exhibiting signs of a mental disorder, call the Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline at 866–337–7631 to find dual diagnosis help in Florida. Our experts can connect you to the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida, where treatment is always hassle-free and long-term.

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