What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-induced psychosis poses various physical, social, and mental problems to those that suffer from it. Read on to learn more.

What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-induced psychosis is a condition that leads to psychotic episodes and paranoia when someone takes larger doses of medications. The mind fails to know what reality is and what it isn’t.

Psychosis leads one to see, hear, and potentially believe bizarre or misleading things. It might also cause people to act out in alarming ways. Psychosis is generally a drug-induced side effect from medication for mental disorders such as severe bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, or schizophrenia.

Drug-Induced Psychosis


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How Does It Happen?

People with genetically predisposed mental illnesses are more likely to have drug-induced psychosis. It often shows similar symptoms to schizophrenia. However, drug-induced psychosis comes from drug use, while schizophrenia occurs from an imbalance in the brain. A long-term effect of drug-induced psychosis may include schizophrenia, but drug use isn’t the cause of schizophrenia.

Substance abuse psychosis can occur suddenly or develop over time. Large doses of drugs cause a challenge to the body by processing the toxins faster, potentially resulting in psychotic episodes, paranoia, and psychosis. Sometimes, the medications that treat mental illnesses may interact with other substances in the body and create severe mental reactions. In rare cases, prescription medicines may create medically induced psychosis even when used correctly.

Although an individual with a predisposed mental illness is prone to experiencing a psychosis attack, at other times, the condition can happen to those who have never even experienced cognitive problems. Psychosis may also occur when different substances get mixed in the body.

Symptoms Of Drug-Induced Psychosis

Drug-induced psychosis symptoms escalate without notice. If you or a loved one notice or exhibit the following symptoms, it might be time to reach out for professional help and advice. These include:

  • Extreme episodes of terror or paranoia: these cause someone to believe that another person or entity could be watching them and want to harm you.
  • Hallucination: these mean a person may hear voices, see people or things that aren’t there, or even experience the feeling of something crawling on the skin.
  • Delusions: these are drug-induced hallucinations as well, but are a bit different from hallucinations. These fantasies cause one to behave dangerously, and generally come with a person experiencing untrue or harmful thoughts. For instance, someone may believe they are being stalked, even when there is evidence.
  • Dangerous behavior: this includes self-harm or disorganized behavior like childlike, exaggerated, and aggressive tendencies.
  • Disconnection from other people or reality: psychosis may make one believe they are overwhelmed or out of control. Hence, they could feel separated from their surrounding world and develop feelings of dread or panic.
  • Strange behavior patterns or speech: this is when someone experiences and exhibits a marked shift in behavior and personality under drug-induced psychosis. They may speak in a stilted manner, talk of things that don’t exist, act strangely, ignore people, or lash out.

Causes Of Drug-Induced Psychosis

There can be many causes of drug-induced psychosis. Some of them are explained in further detail below.

Genetic Causes

Studies show that someone is more likely to experience psychosis if a family member also battled with the condition. Children born with a genetic mutation, like 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, have a high potential for contracting a psychotic disorder, especially schizophrenia.

Biological Factors

A person’s unique biology, like their genes, gender, age, and other factors, can play a role in the risk of drug-induced psychosis. Biological factors that may lead to increased drug use medicines include gender, mental illnesses, and the brain’s developmental stage. For instance, studies show that women are more prone to abuse drugs to treat anxiety or sleeplessness than men are. The earlier one begins to take drugs, the greater risk they have of developing a substance use disorder. At the same time, mental illnesses like depression may put one at a greater risk of using large quantities of drugs.


According to the National Health Institute of Mental Health, people over sixty recorded an 11% increase in admission rates for non-organic psychosis, paraphrenia, and ICD-9 schizophrenia for every 5-year increase in age. Consequently, chronic and substance abuse may lead to causes of psychosis.

Environmental/Psychological Causes

Environmental exposure like childhood trauma, a stressful home environment, how easy it is to get drugs, and more can impact drug-using behaviors.

What Drugs Can Cause Psychosis?

Drug-induced psychosis is a risk when anyone takes drugs, especially if those drugs are stimulants, in large enough doses and in a short time.


Cocaine is known to cause psychosis symptoms when taken quickly and in large amounts. Cocaine-induced psychosis occurs within minutes because it has immediate and robust effects. Cocaine also causes the delusion that someone is trying to kill or harm the individual.


Meth has a high potential for abuse and can cause psychosis. Meth is a stimulant causing severe delusions, agitation, and violent behavior, and may cause one to start picking their skin. This also leads to scars and infections.


The severe and chronic abuse of alcohol can cause psychosis with time. However, this only happens when one takes large quantities of alcohol within days or weeks. Extreme alcohol abuse causes brain damage, paranoid delusions, and withdrawal conditions that involve psychotic symptoms.


Hallucinogens like DMT, LSD, and mushrooms produce longer-lasting, scary, and intense drug-induced hallucinations. Hallucinogens can also create underlying mental conditions and induce hallucinogen-induced psychosis that may last a long time.


Many people who use marijuana attest that they often had feelings of anxiety and panic. Using marijuana chronically or in larger doses can exacerbate these symptoms and lead to severe delusions and paranoia.


This mimics schizophrenic symptoms when it is taken in large doses.
Drug-Induced Psychosis

How Long Can Drug-Induced Psychosis Last?

There is no timeline for drug-induced psychosis; while some psychosis attacks may last a few hours, others can take months or years to stop. However, the exact duration depends on the substance one used, the length of use, if someone has other underlying health issues, and the dosage taken. While psychosis may occur when intoxicated with a drug, it may also emerge when you stop using it.

Delusions can cause someone to harm themselves intentionally or unintentionally. These delusions may sometimes involve suicidal ideation or beliefs that a loved one wants to cause them harm. However, please remember that not every drug-induced psychosis episode results in violence.

Drug-induced psychosis treatment involves various therapy approaches, rehabilitation, and assisted-medication treatments. Treatment and recovery always depends on the individual and the length of substance abuse. Recovery from drug-induced psychosis is attainable, though you or a loved one will have to work to avoid permanent psychosis from drugs.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Treatment at Concise Recovery

Concise Recovery works with an extensive team of professional consultants, therapists, and medical professionals who will work hand-in-hand with you or a loved one towards recovery. We offer our patients a safe and monitored treatment environment that reduces further substance abuse and psychosis before unearthing any other underlying co-occurring health conditions. We offer therapy, counseling, medical treatments, and medication for those that need it in the recovery process. There are many treatment options available to make sure that we are able to help as many people as possible and attune the recovery process to each person’s specific needs.

Reach out today for more information on drugs that can induce psychosis, the various treatment options available to you, and more.

Your recovery is our top priority and is something we will strive to help out every single step of the way. You or your loved one can start your healing journey today.