What is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-Induced Psychosis

Toxic psychosis, alcohol-induced psychosis, and drug-induced psychosis are all diagnostic terms for a mental health illness in which a person suffers hallucinations, delusions, or both within a month of using or withdrawing from prescription medicines, illegal drugs, and/or alcohol.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), drug-induced psychosis affects 7% to 25% of individuals treated for their first psychotic episode.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the symptoms of a substance/medication-induced psychotic condition, there are various treatment options and services available to help.


Delusions, hallucinations, or both are common symptoms of drug-induced psychotic illness. Individuals who are experiencing these symptoms may or may not be aware of whether their hallucinations and/or delusions are real.


Delusions are false beliefs or thoughts that are not founded on reality.

The following are examples of delusions:

  • Persecutory: Feelings that others are trying to get you or are spying on you, even organizations.
  • Grandiose: Belief in yourself as being outstanding, unique, gifted, and superior to others.
  • Referential: Belief that people and their surroundings have hidden meanings that are meant to communicate with you.
  • Erotomanic: Belief in the existence of someone or numerous persons who are in love with you despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Nihilism: Beliefs that a tragedy will occur.
  • Somatic: Belief that there is a problem with your body.

“My old firm is monitoring my every move and is trying to get me,” for example, is a persecutory delusion. An erotomanic illusion could be, for example, “Aishwariya Rai is in love with me”.


A hallucination is when you have an out-of-body experience with one or more senses that isn’t founded on reality.

The following are examples of hallucinations:

  • Auditory: Hearing voices or sounds that aren’t actually there.
  • Visual: Perceiving things that aren’t actually present
  • Olfactory: The ability to detect scents that no one else can.
  • Tactile: Having the sensation of being touched even when no one or nothing is touching you.
  • Gustatory: Tasting something even when you don’t have anything in your mouth.

In an auditory hallucination, for example, a person may hear a voice instructing them to flee or telling them that they are being followed. A visual hallucination occurs when a person sees someone, who isn’t actually there, following them.


A large percentage of people with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. While chemicals may not cause drug-induced psychosis directly, certain substances can trigger psychosis in people who are predisposed to it.

Risk factors for drug-induced psychotic disorder owing to cannabis, opiates, stimulants, or numerous substances were identified in a longitudinal study of persons who presented with drug-induced psychosis, these were:

  • Being a man
  • Being under the age of 30
  • Having a mental health problem that isn’t being addressed

Not only were these people at risk for substance-induced psychosis, but they were also more likely to acquire schizophrenia in the coming years.

Psychoactive Substances:

Drug-induced psychosis can be caused by a wide range of psychoactive drugs, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Sedatives
  • Hypnotics
  • Amphetamines
  • Stimulants


Symptoms must have a considerable influence on your quality of life in order to be diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis.

While distinguishing drug-induced psychosis from the schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders might be challenging, there are a few crucial variables to consider.

With psychosis brought on by drugs or alcohol:

  • Symptoms appear within a month of using or detoxing from drugs, alcohol, or both.
  • Prior to the substance use or withdrawal, there are no signs or symptoms of psychosis.
  • Symptoms usually last less than a month.
  • Withdrawal symptoms normally fade after a while.
  • Individuals don’t experience disorganized speech or behavior, as well as decreased emotional expressiveness, which are common symptoms among people with schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic diseases.

Onset during intoxication:

Symptoms of drug-induced psychosis might appear as soon as a substance is consumed.

When diagnosing someone, the treating physician or mental health professional will look to see if the symptoms started while the substance was still in their system. An onset during intoxication is a term used to describe such a situation.

Onset during withdrawal:

During withdrawal, one may have symptoms of drug-induced psychosis.

The treating doctor will keep track of how long the symptoms last to make sure no other mental health issues are present.

If the symptoms persist for more than a month after the substance has been removed from the system, they may ask for more information to determine if another mental health disease, such as drug-induced mood disorder, is a better fit for the symptoms.


Treatment for drug-induced psychosis varies based on the patient and their specific needs. Stopping the triggering substance and closely monitoring the patient in a safe setting may be sufficient in many circumstances. Different substances, like in alcohol, may necessitate more severe treatment.

While it’s necessary to get the substance out of the person’s system (acute), it’s also critical to address any underlying mental health issues (long-term). Combining acute and long-term care might sometimes prevent a person from developing drug-induced psychosis in the future.


Medications can be used to alleviate the symptoms of drug-induced psychosis and to assist the person’s mood to normalize.


To lessen the odds of having drug-induced psychosis again in the long run, it’s critical to treat any underlying mental health disorders.

Among the treatment options available are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Inpatient treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse is available.
  • Outpatient treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse is available.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Group Therapy

Alcohol-Induced Psychosis Considerations

When compared to other substances and treatments, alcohol withdrawal may necessitate greater monitoring. The individual may have delirium tremens (DTs), symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis, and bodily function failure in severe cases, which can be deadly.

Treatment and care options may include:

  • Tests and monitoring.
  • Vitals stabilization, electrolyte and vitamin replenishment, and liver disease testing
  • If necessary, sedation with medication
  • Suicide assessment and monitoring

Beginning inpatient or outpatient treatment once withdrawal is complete and the patient has stabilized can be extremely beneficial. In addition to counseling, support groups may be effective.


It’s critical to emphasize self-care if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychosis.

Aside from getting professional help, you can also:

  • Begin to practise mindfulness to help you cope with stress.
  • Ground yourself by using breathing exercises.
  • Look for indicators of caregiver exhaustion and take some time to relax.
  • Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through.
  • Read up on the latest research on drug-induced psychosis.
  • A Word from Tulasi Healthcare

Although experiencing symptoms of psychosis can be terrifying, keep in mind that they may be directly related to a substance or medication that can be addressed. If you or a loved one is suffering symptoms of psychosis, contact a medical expert right away so you can get the help you need.

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