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Understanding Drug-Induced Schizophrenia and Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorders

Medically reviewed by

Written by Bharat Hegde

Substances are often used as an escape from reality. From Marijuana to LSD, drugs are used by people to find a release from daily routines or pressures. However, these substances are hazardous and can cause significant distress. In many cases, consumption of substances can lead to mental health disorders like addiction, which is well known.

But did you know that consumption of certain types of substances can lead to schizophrenia as well?

What is Drug-Induced Schizophrenia?

Drug-induced schizophrenia is when a person exhibits symptoms similar to schizophrenia after the consumption of a substance. Schizophrenia, on its own, is a chronic mental health disorder with multiple symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and more.

If a person exhibits these symptoms specifically after consuming a substance, it is considered drug-induced schizophrenia. This condition differs in cause and duration from schizophrenia, and this differentiation is an important aspect of ensuring the correct treatment for the person. 

Causes of Drug-Induced Schizophrenia

As the name suggests, this is caused by the consumption of substances, usually psychoactive. The risk of it occurring is higher in those who have a family history of schizophrenia or related mental health disorders. This condition can be triggered by any substance that messes with the brain’s chemistry. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Drug-Induced Schizophrenia

Symptoms of drug-induced schizophrenia are very similar to that of schizophrenia. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in behavior

Diagnosis can be obtained from a trained medical practitioner like a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will carefully assess the symptoms and analyze the history of a person’s substance consumption. They will also rule out other conditions first and look for a relationship between substance use and symptom manifestation. 

Common Drugs that Can Trigger Schizophrenia-Like Symptoms

Multiple substances have shown the ability to trigger the disorder in a person. These include:

  • Hallucinogens: LSD and psilocybin are a few hallucinogenic substances that are seen to cause symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
  • CNS Stimulants: Methamphetamine and cocaine are sometimes seen to trigger symptoms like paranoia and disorganized thinking. 
  • Marijuana: In large doses, even marijuana can lead to psychotic symptoms in individuals.

Apart from these, certain prescription medications that affect the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways can also cause this condition. It is important to speak to the doctor about any such symptoms, especially for people with a family history of mental health conditions. 

Can Drugs Cause Schizophrenia?

Drugs cannot directly cause a disorder like schizophrenia. However, we can think of them more as a catalyst. In individuals carrying a predisposition to the development of the disorder, substance use can act as a trigger for the development of the disorder. Understanding these risks is important while consuming substances, especially for those with a family history of schizophrenia. 

The Link Between Drug Use and Schizophrenia

Research has shown that psychoactive drugs like amphetamines, cannabis, and hallucinogens can lead to the development of the disorder. However, the drugs themselves cannot cause the disorder. They can accelerate the incidence of the disorder in those facing increased risk. 

Drug Use and Schizophrenia Causation

As mentioned before, drugs cannot directly cause schizophrenia. However, they can trigger the onset of symptoms and exacerbate an underlying condition. Under significant environmental and genetic pressures, drugs can substantially heighten the risk of an individual developing the disorder.

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Is Drug-Induced Schizophrenia Permanent?

Drug-induced schizophrenia is not usually permanent. However, multiple factors, including duration of consumption, amount consumed, and the person’s history, can play a role in how long the symptoms persist. 

Understanding the Duration and Prognosis

Multiple factors can influence the duration of symptom occurrence and a person’s prognosis. Normally, if a person stops drug usage and seeks help, symptoms go away. However, for those with chronic drug use issues, recovery may be a complicated process. It is advisable to promptly seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional in such situations.

Factors Influencing the Longevity of Symptoms

Factors affecting the longevity of symptoms include:

  • Type of substance consumed
  • Duration it was consumed
  • Amount/Quantity that was consumed
  • Individual’s age and mental health history
  • Genetic predisposition towards psychiatric disorders

Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder: An Overview

Substance-induced psychotic disorders occur when certain psychotic symptoms occur once a person uses a substance or during the withdrawal phase from the substance. Such a condition is inherently distinct from schizophrenia as it is directly triggered by drug use. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of a substance-induced psychotic disorder include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking and behavior
  • Mood flattening

Diagnosis involved ruling out other mental health disorders and establishing a clear link between drug use and the occurrence of symptoms. 

How to manage drug-induced psychosis

Managing the condition necessitates certain immediate steps. This includes completely stopping the use of the substance, seeking professional help, and creating an effective treatment plan with the help of the professional. 

Treatment and Recovery

Treatment includes medical stabilization for immediate relief, and a proper treatment plan charted out by a medical professional. This could include a combination of medication, therapy, supplementary activities, and more. Treatment is not only aimed at the reduction of symptoms but at stopping substance consumption as well.

Preventive Measures and Seeking Help

Preventive measures include avoiding high-risk drugs, especially if a person has a history of mental illness in their family. Further, seeking help at the earliest possible stage when symptoms are observed is a key aspect of avoiding complications and beginning recovery. This also significantly improves the prognosis for a person. 

Drug-Induced Schizophrenia support and health care with Cadabams Anunitha

At Cadabams Anunitha, we understand that drug use is a mental health disorder that necessitates treatment and support. Our experienced team, combined with our proven treatment programs, creates a world-class recovery experience that will transform your life. We have a tailored program called Dual Diagnosis to help individuals who are experiencing drug-induced schizophrenia and can tailor it to meet your unique needs. Reach out to us for help with drug-induced schizophrenia today.

If you are searching for a solution to your problem, Cadabams Anunitha’s De-Addiction Centre can help you with its team of specialized experts. We have been helping thousands of people live healthier and happier lives for 30+ years. We leverage evidence-based approaches and holistic treatment methods to help individuals effectively manage Drug-Induced Schizophrenia. Get in touch with us today. You can call us at +91 96111 94949.

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FAQs

1. What is drug-induced schizophrenia?

Drug-induced schizophrenia is when the consumption of a psychoactive substance triggers schizophrenia-like symptoms in a person. The symptoms could include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and more.

2. What causes substance medication-induced psychotic disorder?

Consumption of psychoactive substances like LSD, cocaine, cannabis, or others can cause substance-induced psychotic disorder. Further, certain prescription medications that affect the brain’s chemistry can also cause this condition.  

3. What are the three stages of drug-induced psychosis?

The three stages of drug-induced psychosis include:

  1. Acute Intoxication Phase
  2. Toxic Psychotic Phase
  3. Residual Phase

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