This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Within a month after taking prescription or illicit medications or alcohol withdrawal, an individual may develop hallucinations or delusions. This is known as substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder, which is also known as toxic psychosis, alcohol-induced psychosis, and drug-induced psychosis.
Up to twenty-five percent of patients who are treated for their first psychotic episode are reported to have a substance or medication-induced psychosis according to the DSM-5.
Thankfully, many treatment options and services are available to help those who are experiencing symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder.
Symptoms of Psychosis
Delusions, hallucinations, or both can be symptoms of a psychotic condition induced by substances or medications. People who are experiencing these symptoms may or may not be able to discern whether or not their hallucinations are genuine.
Delusions are irrational thoughts and beliefs, and they fall into six categories:
Thoughts that others are pursuing or monitoring you
Inflated self-esteem based on exaggerated notions of one’s own superiority or superiority to others.
Belief in the existence of hidden meanings communicated to you by other people or the environment.
The belief that one or more individuals are in love with you in spite of evidence to the contrary.
A belief that a catastrophe will occur.
The belief that something is amiss with one’s body.
As an example, a delusional belief may be that your ex-employer is watching me and out to get you. An Erotomanic illusion example includes believing a celebrity is in love with you.
During a hallucination, you are having an experience that is not founded in reality with one or more of your senses.
This symptom is not counted as part of the clinical guidelines if their hallucinations are caused by the use of drugs and/or alcohol.
To name just a few, there can be:
- Imagining voices or noises that aren’t there
- Seeing things that aren’t actually there
- Smelling odors that no one else can
- The sensation of being touched, even when no one or nothing is actually touching you
- The act of tasting something without really having it in your mouth
Auditory hallucinations, such as hearing a voice urging a person to run away or that they are being tracked, are common examples. As a result of a visual hallucination, a person may believe that someone is following them, even when they are not.
After taking some chemicals, psychotic episode symptoms might occur practically immediately.
Doctors and mental health professionals must determine whether the individual’s symptoms started while they were still taking a drug. When this occurs, it’s referred to as a “onset while intoxicated.”
It is possible to experience symptoms of psychosis while withdrawal from a substance or medicine.
So that no other mental health issues can be ruled out, your treating doctor will keep track of how long your symptoms last. In cases where symptoms persist for more than a month after the drug has been removed from your system, more information may be collected to determine whether another mental health condition is more appropriate for your present set of symptoms.
The treatment for a patient with a substance- or medication-induced psychosis will be tailored to their specific needs. As long as the patient’s environment is safe, this may be sufficient treatment in many circumstances. Alcohol, on the other hand, may necessitate a more involved approach.
Additionally, treating any underlying mental health disorders is as vital as removing the substance from the person’s system. Acute and long-term care may protect the individual from developing substance/medication-induced psychosis in the future in some instances.