Drug Induced Schizophrenia, Triggers, Causes, & Treatments

Substance-induced psychosis, or drug induced schizophrenia, develops schizophrenia-like symptoms in response to drug abuse or certain medications.


Overview

Drug induced schizophrenia, or substance-induced psychosis, is when schizophrenia-like symptoms appear after abusing drugs or taking certain medications. Even though drug-induced psychosis usually goes away once the drug is out of the body, it can still greatly impact a person’s mental health. To properly diagnose and treat drug induced schizophrenia, knowing what sets it off, what causes it, and what treatments are available is important.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that lasts long and changes how a person thinks, feels, and acts. It has many symptoms, such as hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there), delusions (false beliefs), disorganized thinking, and strange behavior. People with schizophrenia may have trouble telling the difference between what is real and what isn’t, which can mess up how they see the world.

Schizophrenia can also cause people to withdraw from others, show less emotion, have trouble remembering things or paying attention, and lose motivation or interest in daily activities. Schizophrenia usually starts when a person is a young adult and often needs ongoing treatment and support.

Schizophrenia is a complicated disorder that both genetic and environmental factors can cause. Most of the time, antipsychotic medications, therapy, and support services are used together to help manage symptoms and improve functioning.

Can Drugs Cause Schizophrenia?

Although drug use can bring symptoms similar to schizophrenia, drugs do not cause the disorder. Multiple factors, including genetics, environment, and neurobiology, contribute to the development of schizophrenia, making it a difficult to treat mental disorder.

The risk of developing psychosis or psychotic-like symptoms, which may resemble schizophrenia, is increased, however, by drug use, especially the misuse or abuse of certain substances. Hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin, stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine, and some legal and illegal drugs also fall into this category.

When the effects of a drug wear off, the psychosis or schizophrenia-like symptoms it causes usually go away as well. However, drug use may exacerbate symptoms or hasten the onset of schizophrenia in those genetically predisposed to the disorder.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Fact Sheet

Overview

Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) is a mental health condition characterized by a persistent pattern of social detachment and limited emotional expression. Individuals with SPD often prefer solitude, have little interest in close relationships, and exhibit restricted social and emotional functioning.


Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder

  • Social detachment.
  • Emotional detachment.
  • Lack of interest in social interactions.
  • The limited or absent desire for sexual experiences.
  • Limited nonverbal communication.
  • Preference for solitary activities.
  • Emotional coldness.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing schizoid personality disorder involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional, who assesses symptoms, personal history, and the impact of these symptoms on daily functioning. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides diagnostic criteria for SPD.

What Causes Schizoid Personality Disorder?

The exact causes of schizoid personality disorder are unclear, but it is believed to result from genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Early life experiences, such as neglect or emotional trauma, may contribute to the development of SPD.

Prevalence: The prevalence of schizoid personality disorder is estimated to be relatively low, with rates ranging from 1% to 5% in the general population. It is more commonly diagnosed in males than females.

Impact and Outlook: Schizoid personality disorder can significantly affect an individual’s social and emotional functioning, leading to relationship difficulties and overall quality of life. With appropriate treatment and support, individuals with SPD can learn coping skills and improve their ability to engage in social interactions, enhancing their overall well-being.


Treatment of Schizoid Personality Disorder

  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals with SPD develop social skills, explore emotions, and challenge negative thought patterns.
  • Supportive therapy: Providing a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express themselves and discuss their experiences.
  • Medication: Certain medications may be prescribed to manage co-occurring symptoms or conditions, such as depression or anxiety.

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Schizoid Personality Disorder Statistics

Approximately 3% of the population is estimated to be affected by Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD), with a higher prevalence observed among males. The onset of the disorder typically occurs during late adolescence or early adulthood. Individuals with SPD often face challenges in establishing and maintaining friendships, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Their disinterest in and lack of emotional connection with others can also impact their performance in the workplace.


3%

A schizoid personality disorder is estimated to affect the population.

Source: NIMH

2:1

More commonly diagnosed in males than females

Source: NIMH

Adolescence

Age of Onset

Source: NIMH


What Causes Drug induced Schizophrenia Symptoms?

We don’t fully know what causes schizophrenia symptoms brought on by drugs. But there are a few things that might cause these symptoms to show up:

  • Misusing or abusing drugs: Misusing or abusing certain drugs, especially hallucinogens (like LSD and psilocybin) and stimulants (like amphetamines and cocaine), has been linked to psychosis or symptoms that look like schizophrenia.
  • Neurochemical Changes: Drugs can change the balance of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate in the brain, which are linked to psychosis. Schizophrenia-like symptoms may be caused in part by problems with these neurochemical systems.
  • Individual Vulnerability: Some people may be more likely to get psychosis or symptoms that look like schizophrenia when exposed to certain substances. This risk can be increased by having a family history of mental illness or having a mental health condition already.
  • Interaction Effects: How certain drugs and a person’s unique biochemistry work together can affect how likely and bad drug induced psychosis is. The start and length of symptoms can be affected by dosage, frequency of use, and the use of multiple substances simultaneously.
  • People with underlying mental health problems, like a history of psychosis, mood disorders, or personality disorders, may be more likely to develop schizophrenia-like symptoms after taking a drug.

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Drugs That Can Cause Schizophrenia

Even though drugs rarely cause schizophrenia, some substances have been linked to causing or worsening psychotic symptoms that look like schizophrenia. There have been links to the following drugs:

  • Hallucinogens: Drugs like LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and phencyclidine (PCP) can change how people see and think, leading to hallucinations, delusions, and other psychotic symptoms.
  • Stimulants: Drugs like amphetamines, methamphetamines, and cocaine can increase dopamine in the brain. This can cause psychosis or psychotic symptoms that look like schizophrenia.
  • Cannabis: Even though the link is complicated and not fully understood, heavy and long-term cannabis use has been linked to an increased risk of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids: Synthetic cannabinoids, often sold as “synthetic marijuana” or “spice,” can have more powerful and unpredictable effects than natural cannabis. Psychotic symptoms and episodes have been linked to their use.
  • Prescription drugs: In rare cases, some prescription drugs, like corticosteroids, dopaminergic agents, and some antipsychotics, can cause or make psychotic symptoms worse, including those that look like schizophrenia.

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Getting Help After Drug-Induced Schizophrenia

Recovery and symptom management of drug induced schizophrenia need access to appropriate help and support after experiencing drug induced schizophrenia symptoms. Some things to think about are as follows:

  • Reach out to a mental health professional specializing in treating psychotic disorders, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other healthcare provider. Your symptoms will be assessed, and a unique treatment plan will be designed for you.
  • Medication management: Medications like antipsychotics are commonly prescribed to help control the symptoms of schizophrenia. You and your doctor should work together to determine the medication and dosage that will best serve your needs. Constant vigilance and fine-tuning may be required.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of psychotherapy that is effective in helping people with schizophrenia learn to manage their symptoms. Helpful in symptom control, enhanced functionality, and better health overall.
  • Joining a support group or attending therapy groups designed for people with schizophrenia can be a great way to get much-needed social and emotional support. Having meaningful relationships with people who understand can alleviate isolation and provide helpful information for developing coping mechanisms.
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle can help your overall health and symptom control. This category includes maintaining a regular exercise routine, implementing stress-reduction strategies (like mindfulness or meditation), sleeping enough, and eating right.
  • Substance abuse treatment is necessary if drug use is suspected as a cause of the patient’s symptoms. You should get help from addiction specialists or a treatment program to beat drug dependency and learn healthy coping strategies.
  • Involving loved ones in your care allows them to learn about your condition and offer emotional support. Families should consider enrolling in therapy or educational programs to enhance communication and create a more nurturing setting.

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  1. is drug induced schizophrenia permanent?

    The emergence of schizophrenia-like symptoms as a direct result of drug use is drug induced schizophrenia. Different drugs have different effects on the brain, and the severity, length of time, and response to treatment of drug-induced schizophrenia can vary widely from case to case.

    When the effects of a drug wear off or when someone stops using drugs altogether, the symptoms of schizophrenia caused by the drug may go away. Some people, however, may experience symptoms that resemble primary schizophrenia long after they have stopped using drugs.

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Search We Level Up WA Drug Induced Schizophrenia, Triggers, Causes, & Treatments Mental Health Topics & Resources
Sources
  1. Fiorentini, A., et al. (2021). Substance-induced psychoses: An updated literature reviewFrontiers in Psychiatry. Learn More: drugs for schizophrenia
  2. Mills, K., et al. (2011). Psychosis and substance use. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Learn More: drugs for schizophrenia
  3. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Schizophrenia. Learn More: schizophrenia drugs
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). First episode psychosis and co-occurring substance use disorders.  Learn More: schizophrenia drugs

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