Hallucinogens and Psychosis

Do these substances cause psychosis later in life? Is there research on this?

Persistent psychosis and ‘Hallucinogenic Persisting Perception Disorder‘ (also referred to as “flashbacks”) are associated with chronic use of hallucinogenic substances. Methamphetamine often induces psychosis and is particularly associated with continued psychotic symptoms long after an individual has stopped using due to the severe structural changes the drug causes in the brain.

Individuals experiencing acute withdrawal from alcohol may also experience withdrawal-related psychosis as a part of Delirium Tremens, a severe medical condition related to alcohol dependence that often develops in chronic users several days after they discontinue use.

There is extensive research on hallucinogens and psychosis, although researches remain concerned about reporting bias, as many persons who are identified do so because they are forced to seek emergency care while experiencing severe adverse effects from drug use and may also have polysubstance use histories that complicate evaluation.

What do hallucinogen-induced psychotic episodes “look” like?

Given the extensive variables between individuals and substances, there are an almost infinite number of presentations of substance-related psychosis. Hallucinogenic psychosis tends to have a less agitated presentation than, for example, a stimulant-induced psychosis, by virtue of key differences in the drug profiles.

Flashbacks may persist for years into sobriety, and are sensory disturbances similar to the ones that occur during substance use. These most frequently take the form of visual intrusions that the individual recognizes as unreal.

Treatment for Hallucinogen Abuse and Psychosis

If you know someone who is using hallucinogens and showing sings of psychosis, they need specialised dual-diagnosis treatment. Dual-diagnosis is the medical condition of patients suffering from an addictive disorder, as well as a related mental health clinical symptom such as psychosis.

Dual-diagnosis patients are complex cases. We treat them in our Extended Care Unit, where they receive the medical and therapeutic attention they require to achieve long-lasting recovery. Find out more about treating hallucinogen-induced psychosis and addiction here.