Substance Induced Psychosis

Psychosis is generally a symptom associated with schizophrenia. During a psychotic episode an individual experiences a disconnect from reality, the individual experiences hallucinations and/or delusions and are unable to distinguish between the hallucinations/delusions and reality. During these episodes there is a high risk of the individuals lashing out, hurting themselves or hurting others.

Substance Induced Psychosis or Toxic Psychosis is a result of Substance abuse/use these can be legal or illegal substances. An individual has been abusing a certain substance, had a severe reaction to mixing substances or is withdrawing from a drug. These episodes are treatable and in most cases they are reversible.  The duration of a Toxic Psychosis is anywhere between a few hours to a month.

Common drugs related to Toxic Psychosis:

  • Alcohol – occurs through chronic alcoholism or withdrawal
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens – LSD, psychotropic mushrooms
  • MDMA
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine

Symptoms of Toxic Psychosis

There is an inability to discern reality from delusion; the delusions associated with Substance Induced Psychosis are usually false ideas based on fear and suspicion, a person or organisation plotting to cause harm.

Other manifestations include hallucinations – visual and haptic, disorientation, disorganised thought processes, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and difficulty communicating.

Managing Substance Induced Psychosis

In most cases of Toxic Psychosis, the symptom does lift after time, but the symptom is a serious one and often-immediate medical attention is required.  There have been cases where individuals have attempted to kill them selves while in this state of psychosis.

An effective treatment plan is important when dealing with Toxic Psychosis; the first obvious step is for the individual to stop taking the substance. Once the detox is complete the initial symptom of psychosis will lift. It is imperative that a detox and a full in-patient treatment be completed as relapse and a return to psychosis is very possible without the help of an in-patient treatment program. In patient treatment involves therapy, group session and introductions to support groups. All of this ensures an individual is able to learn the necessary skills to enjoy a drug free life.