Mental Health Monday–Drug-Induced Psychosis


Writer Colleen Rowan Kosinski asked about Substance-Induced Psychosis.

Here are the basics:

Drugs (legal and illegal) and even some herbal supplements when taken in excess can cause psychosis. Common offenders include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines (meth), and hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP. Prescribed medications such as prednisone, isoretinoin, scopolamine, L-dopa (used for Parkinson Disease), and anti-epileptics can also cause psychosis.

Substance-Induced Psychosis is something we see frequently in the inpatient psych unit and psychiatric ER (crisis unit). Obtaining a thorough history (from the patient and collateral sources) as well as getting a urine drug screen can identify which substances the person ingested. Some aren’t so easy to detect however.

New to the scene are synthetic marijuana (K2) and “spice” or “incense” (with mephedrone as the active ingredient). The psychosis caused by these substances tends to be more…intense. People can become severely psychotic, with paranoia, hallucintations, disorganized and fragmented thoughts, confusion, disorientation, and a tendency toward violence. Their symptoms are also less likely to respond to medications such as anti-psychotics. They end up spending a long time on the unit and don’t necessarily recover completely.

So what’s the best treatment for someone suffering from substance-induced psychosis?

  • Keep them safe (usually in the ER or on the psych unit)
  • Try to reduce stimuli as much as possible (dark, quiet rooms)
  • Provide structure (the same routine every day helps orient them)
  • Give anti-psychotic medication such as Haldol, Risperdal, Zyprexa, etc.
  • Use adjunctive medications to help with anxiety and withdrawal symptoms, if present; Clonidine, Motrin, Immodium, Benadryl, Ativan, etc.

Like Mr. Mackey from South Park says:

Drugs are bad, M’kay?

Just don’t do it! 😉

DO check out Lydia’s Medical Monday post and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation!

Remember these posts are for writing purposes only and are NOT to be construed as medical advice of treatment.

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13 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Drug-Induced Psychosis

  1. Sarah Fine says:

    Whoa! I didn’t realize that about spice, but we’re seeing more teens using that here in RI. Thanks for this useful post, Laura!

  2. Nadia says:

    This one’s scary, and I’ve seen it first hand as the after effect of a highly inexperienced nurse and highly lazy doctor who was willing to prescribe meds via telephone on her say-so without requesting a patient history.

  3. Sheri Larsen says:

    Great information. I was unaware of these synthetics you speak of. Scary stuff!

  4. Karen Lange says:

    Wow, learning all sorts of interesting stuff today (was just at Lydia’s). Thanks for the info! 🙂

  5. Yikes, there’s always new drugs to worry about. Interesting stuff. I always learn so much from you!

  6. Ciara Knight says:

    I have a teenager in the house. All this stuff scares me. 😦 He’s a good kid, but lots of opportunity out there.

  7. I didn’t know so many drugs create severe long-term problems. Very scary!

  8. Linda Gray says:

    Scary. What does alcohol-induced psychosis look like? We’ve all seen the silly or mean or drop-unconscious drunk, and know about loss of inhibition, but what is the associated psychosis?? Fascinating.

  9. Cheree Smith says:

    Fantastic post. Lots of good information here.

  10. Hmmmm…I may have use for this information in my WIP. Thanks!

  11. Donna Hole says:

    Oh thanks Laura. I have a character in my novel that is a consistent meth user, and has psychotic breaks when he’s on a run. I was having problems figuring out how to treat him when he’s coming down – outside of locking him in a psych ward.

    ……..dhole

  12. You truly put together several wonderful items inside ur posting, “Mental Health Monday-Drug-Induced Psychosis Author Laura Diamond-Lucid Dreamer”. I will become coming to ur webpage before long. With thanks -Julianne

  13. Alyssa says:

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    Nonetheless I really enjoy this one, “Mental Health Monday-Drug-Induced Psychosis | Author Laura Diamond–Lucid Dreamer”
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