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As the name implies, or rather clearly states, this is the
manifestation of psychotic symptoms resulting from the use of certain drugs.
These psychotic symptoms are very similar to those listed in
the section on ‘psychotic disorders’, and in the introduction on 'Psychosis', though some may be more common than others and some more closely related to a
specific drug. For example, Paranoia & Grandiosity are often linked to Marijuana (MJA) usage, particularly if the strength is greater & quality is
better. Buds and hydroponic MJA is substantially more potent.
With the advent of more & more readily available
‘recreational drugs’ such as ‘Ecstasy’ &
‘Crystal Methamphetamine’, there has been a
marked increase in psychosis. Crystal Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth, Ice,
Fire, Jib, Chalk) poses a significant risk to the user, partially because it’s relatively inexpensive,
easy to find and can be made in home laboratories (though generally this is a ‘mix of drugs’ &
not pure Methamphetamine).
‘Crystal Meth’ can be snorted, smoked, ingested
& injected. It is a potent stimulant that provides the user with an incredible
‘rush’ characterized by increased energy, activity & sex drive. Unfortunately other effects
such as paranoia, confusion, agitation & violence can accompany its use along with physical signs such as
‘grinding of teeth’ & ‘obsessive picking at one’s body’; all of which can last
between 8 to 24 hours. Depression & anxiety can
result from its withdrawal.
Paranoia– This is fairly straight forward, though the term is often misused and
casually mentioned to describe a ‘worried’ ‘fearful’ anxiety or personality type. Paranoia, of a
psychotic type, is more severe and not based on any logic or in reality. A person may feel
they are ‘being
followed’ or ‘everyone is out to get them’, or ‘someone is trying to kill
them’ etc. Paranoia can drive someone to aggression or violence, due to their
irrational fear. It can be defined as:- 'an unfounded belief that you are
being persecuted, pursued, that people are out to get you, kill you etc., or anything
unsoundly based, or without any logic or evidence, along these
Addiction to ‘Crystal Meth’ is common and its
continued use results in severe weight loss, malnourishment, serious cognitive impairment & even structural
changes to the brain. Treatment resistant psychotic illnesses may
also develop. An estimated 10 to 20% of ‘Crystal Meth’ users develop psychosis.
As with most substances that can produce psychosis, its
withdrawal or cessation does not necessarily mean the symptoms will stop. They may last long after the drug has
been withdrawn and with heavy long term users, the effects may be largely permanent.
An alarming statistic in relation to the current stream of
drugs in our society is that 3% of young people will experience a psychotic episode, making it more common than
diabetes. These psychotic episodes are not specifically restricted to a ‘drug induced’ type,
though the effect of using illicit substances puts more at risk.
Another common by-product of illicit drug use (particularly
stimulant drugs) is that of extreme aggression & violence. When combined with psychosis (especially of a
strong paranoid or grandiose flavour), the outcomes can be extremely dangerous. There have been many reported
deaths violently psychotic people; by their own hand & by others, including police.
Many 'Mental Health Nurses' & other
clinicians working in acute mental health units, have seen first hand the effects illicit drugs can have on an
individual. The resultant psychoses can be extreme & dangerous. It is also becoming increasingly prevalent
with our emergency departments being bombarded with more & more volatile & psychotically unwell people
who have partaken in a variety of illicit drugs.
The management & treatment of these people is not something
you would wish for yourself or anyone else. Hospitalisation & containment, seclusion & restraint,
chemical intervention through medication which is often given against your will are but some of the methods
needed to manage the manifested psychotic symptoms. There is no time frame for ‘coming down’ or becoming well; it could be days or weeks and there may
be permanent damage as a result.
Do not think that it couldn’t happen to you or that it is
restricted to only certain types of drugs and in certain quantities. There is no guarantee of anything once you
have made the decision to put an ‘alien’, ‘man-made’, harmful substance in your body.
Illicit drugs can result in the development of psychotic
symptoms and sometimes a permanent illness. The symptoms & effects of abuse may be short or long term, vary
in severity and the risks are high. The possibility of dependence is a serious matter to be considered whenever
you decide to use; never mind the health risks and social, physical, emotional & psychological
If you feel you may have a problem with drug use & abuse,
then you need to seek professional help. This may be difficult to do, but very necessary if you wish to prolong
your quality of life. Sometimes it might help to discuss your issues with a friend, family or someone you trust.
That will enable you to take the next step toward getting assistance with the serious issue of drug
Ask yourself the following
- Do I need to
take these drugs to feel better?
- Why do I
take these drugs?
- What are the
immediate & long term negative effects of the drug? (include the social
effects & effects on your career)
- Do the
positive effects of the drug outweigh the negative?
- What are the
possible consequences of continuing to use?
- What are the
advantages in reducing or ceasing my drug use?
- What can I
do to substitute for the positive effects I
Should you have concerns regarding any issue
relating to your 'mental or physical
off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This
may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may
also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your
choice, ensure you see someone who might help.
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