5 Ugly Truths About Stimulant Psychosis

5 Ugly Truths About Stimulant Psychosis

Published: 09/9/19

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Stimulant psychosis is a side effect of stimulant use that can make you have delusions, hallucinate, and be agitated. The symptoms can be severe and it might seem like you’ve lost touch with reality. 

The symptoms of stimulant psychosis include:

  • Agitation, or behaving aggressively
  • Hallucinations, or sensing things that aren’t real 
  • Delusions, or having beliefs that aren’t real
  • Catatonia, or an inability to respond to the environment
  • Disorganized thought, or having thought patterns that aren’t natural 

Most people recover from stimulant psychosis, but the process can be long. The best prevention is avoiding drug use. One thing’s for sure: You don’t want to put yourself at risk.

Read on to learn more: 

1. Many Stimulants Can Cause Stimulant Psychosis… Even Caffeine

The media gives attention to cases of stimulant psychosis caused by bath salts or meth. You might remember the Florida bath salts attack, which was blamed on stimulant psychosis in 2012. 

Meth and bath salts aren’t the only drugs that cause this disorder. Many drugs are linked to it, including: 

  • Amphetamine, brand name Adderall
  • Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and soda
  • Cathinones, also known as bath salts
  • Cocaine, also known as coke 
  • Dextroamphetamine, brand name Adderall
  • Ephedrine, brand name Akovaz
  • Lisdexamfetamine, brand name Vyvanse
  • Methamphetamine, brand name Desoxyn
  • MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy

You can lower your risk by only taking stimulants as prescribed and never using street drugs. 

2. Its Hallmark Symptoms Are Psychotic and Delusional (and It’s Often Severe)

Stimulant psychosis looks scary with symptoms that are rooted away from reality. Your loved ones might not recognize the way you behave. 

The symptoms depend on:

  • How long you’ve abused stimulants
  • How heavily you abuse stimulants
  • Whether you have other mental conditions
  • Whether you’ve had psychosis before

All people with the disorder get symptoms such as agitation, psychosis, and delusions. If you have a history of drug abuse or mental health, then you’re more likely to have severe symptoms. 

The symptoms of stimulant psychosis can include:

  • Hearing things that aren’t real 
  • An inability to respond to sound, touch, or other stimuli 
  • A belief that everything in the world is significant to you
  • An inability to think in a way that makes sense
  • Belief that someone is targeting you
  • Believing that you are significant
  • A belief that others can hear your thoughts 
  • Seeing things that aren’t real 

These symptoms can be moderate or severe, and you could have some of them or all of them. It depends on your personal history and risk factors. No two cases are the same. 

3. It’s Often Misdiagnosed as Schizophrenia or Excited Delirium

Stimulant psychosis can look similar to other psychotic disorders. There are two particular disorders it closely resembles:

  • Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that affects the way you experience reality 
  • Excited delirium, a mental disorder that causes severe agitation, delirium, fever, tremor, sweating, and seizures

People who are schizophrenic have negative symptoms. These are symptoms where you’re missing emotion, such as:

  • No longer enjoying activities you used to like
  • Flat affect, or showing no emotion in your voice or face
  • Trouble connecting with other people 

Excited delirium has physical symptoms. They include:

  • Fever over 100 degrees 
  • Sweating
  • High potassium in your blood
  • Rhabdomyolysis, or breakdown of your muscle tissue 

It’s important to have the right diagnosis. Even though the disorders look the same, they need their own treatments. 

Doctors can get the diagnosis wrong if they don’t know the truth about your drug use. It’s important to be honest with your doctor about every substance you use. 

4. You May Need to Take Antipsychotic Drugs for Treatment 

If you’re diagnosed with stimulant psychosis, you’ll get a custom treatment plan. Your symptoms will be monitored and treated as needed. For instance, if you are agitated, then you might receive benzodiazepines to calm you. Your symptoms may change as time goes on, and your treatment will change too. 

Most patients who are treated for psychosis spend some time inpatient. That’s because psychotic symptoms can change over a few days. You might need care a few times before the psychosis ends. 

The disorder is best treated with antipsychotic drugs. Some options include:

  • Haldol
  • Thorazine
  • Thioridazine
  • Zyprexa

Some patients get better right after they start treatment. Others need to increase their dose before they get relief. You may need to keep taking antipsychotic drugs after you recover. 

Tell your doctor about your addiction history and be honest. Some antipsychotic drugs can be abused, so your doctor will take that into account.

5. Most Patients Have a Good Outcome, But it Takes Time 

Many patients recover and never have another episode. Even if you have another episode, you can often control it. Your outcome can be good with this disorder, but you need to get treatment.

The first episode can be long if you use drugs heavily or have mental illness, but that’s not always the case. Some patients have psychosis that lasts until the drug clears their system. That might be 12 or 16 hours. 

Many patients have psychosis that lasts up to 10 days, while a few have symptoms for 30 days or longer. 

Get Treatment for Stimulant Abuse Today

The good news about stimulant psychosis is that you can avoid by not using stimulants. You can reduce your risk by getting treatment for stimulant abuse. 

It’s proven that treatment helps your odds. Drug abuse patients have a better chance of recovering with treatment.

Your first step is to call a drug abuse treatment center. You’ll set up your intake and talk with medical staff about your history.  Then you’ll receive a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs. 

Addiction care is the boost you need for recovery. Make that call today! 

Sources:

  1. Cureus: A case study of acute stimulant-induced psychosis <https://www.cureus.com/articles/17024-a-case-study-of-acute-stimulant-induced-psychosis
  2. Healthline: Can Adderall cause psychosis? <https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-psychosis#reducing-your-risk
  3. Cochrane: Treatment for amphetamine psychosis <https://www.cochrane.org/CD003026/ADDICTN_treatment-for-amphetamine-psychosis
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Can addiction be treated successfully? (Yes!) <https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery