Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks!
Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks!
Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks!
Psychosis Sucks! Psychosis Sucks!
   
 
 

The use of street drugs or the excessive use of alcohol is harmful to the physical and mental health of all people; however, the risks associated with drug use are even greater for people who have experienced psychosis.

Psychosis-inducing drugs

Psychosis can be induced by drugs or can be "drug assisted". Some stimulating drugs, like amphetamines, can cause psychosis, while other drugs, including marijuana, can trigger the onset of psychosis in someone who is already at increased risk because they have "vulnerability".

It is also believed that some drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine can cause a condition known as a drug-induced psychosis. This psychosis can last up to a few days, and is often characterized by hallucinations, delusions, memory loss and confusion. This usually results from prolonged or heavy street-drug use; and it responds well to treatment.

Impact of drug use after psychosis has begun

UpThe risks associated with drug use for a person with psychosis include an increased risk of relapse, the development of more secondary problems (including depression, anxiety or memory problems), a slower recovery and more persistent psychotic symptoms.

Certain drugs, and alcohol, may be harmful because they interact dangerously with psychosis medications. Although alcohol in small quantities is usually okay while taking most medications, there are certain medications that must not be combined with alcohol. A doctor can advise about this.

Being honest about drug and alcohol use is essential for recovery from psychosis, even if there is no immediate desire to change usage. Drug use can have negative interactions with treatment, therefore, those on the treatment team need to know the details of the drug use so that they can provide the safest and most effective treatment recommendations.

Evaluating if there's a substance use problem

The individual must come to the conclusion, him or herself, that there is a substance use problem.

Questions such as the ones below may help the person evaluate their drug use situation. It is best to do this exercise with a mental health professional who can be there to increase objectivity and base the answers on accurate information.

  1. What do you think are the immediate and long-term negative effects of your drug use?

  2. How do these negative effects compare to the desired effects you experience?

  3. Can you see any advantages to reducing your current drug use?

Crystal Meth

Crystal methamphetamine (“crystal meth”, “jib”, “ice”, “chalk”, “fire”) is a street drug that has increased significantly in popularity throughout British Columbia over the past several years, especially in youth and young adults.  It is cheap and easy to find, as it can be made in simple home laboratories (although often what is sold on the streets as crystal meth is not pure methamphetamine but a mix of drugs).

“Crystal meth” is a potent stimulant.  It creates a tremendous rush, or powerful feeling, and  increases  energy and activity.  There is also an increased sexual drive, which can result in prolonged sex and an increased risk of HIV.  “Crystal meth” can be smoked, ingested, snorted, or injected.  It can also have other effects like agitation, paranoia, confusion and violence.  Grinding of teeth and obsessive picking at one’s body are physical signs of use.  These acute effects can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.   Withdrawal effects include anxiety and depression, and feeling “sketchy”.

The more a person uses ‘crystal meth’, the more they crave it, making it very difficult to quit.  Continued use can result in rapid weight loss and malnourishment.  Longer-term use of “crystal meth” can have a serious impact on the brain’s ability to process information, and can even result in structural changes to the brain.  It can also lead to the development of a psychotic condition that is difficult to treat. 

It is estimated that 10-20% of “crystal meth” abusers develop psychosis. Typical symptoms include paranoia and auditory hallucinations, which cannot be distinguished from other psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The onset of psychosis often occurs gradually with continued use but can sometimes occur suddenly even in very little  use.  Using ‘crystal meth’ can trigger the psychosis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the psychosis will end when the drug use stops.  The psychosis may continue on even after quitting.

Hints to reducing use or risk of harm

UpReducing drug use is not simply a matter of willpower. Effectively reducing drug use requires setting goals and solving problems.

It is the desired effects that give a person the urge to continue use. Most people find that these urges are triggered by certain feelings (such as stress, boredom, depression or anxiety) or situations (such as being with friends who use regularly or being at a party where it is encouraged). By recognizing and anticipating what feelings or situations may trigger use, and by coming up in advance with possible solutions for handling them, the person can increase the chance of avoiding use at those times.

Another way to decrease drug use is to find activities that substitute for some of the desired effects of the drug. For example, if one of the desired effects is relieving boredom, the person could instead try an enjoyable activity, such as exercise, seeing a movie or meeting a friend for coffee. The key is to develop a plan to handle the social pressures to use. Even working out a script on what to say when offered drugs can be helpful. These "refusal skills" become easier with practice.

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Copyright 2006 Fraser Health Authority