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Meth Psychosis – Understanding Methamphetamine Psychosis

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Methamphetamine, also referred to as meth, ice, or crystal meth, exerts a profound impact on a person’s brain. In certain cases, this can change the way a person thinks and experiences the world around them. One of the most severe psychological side effects of meth use is psychosis.

Meth-induced psychosis can be very similar to paranoid schizophrenia. According to research, up to 40 percent of people who use meth experience psychotic symptoms and syndromes.

People experiencing meth psychosis have a higher risk of alcohol use, suicide, and future episodes of psychosis. Treatment for meth addiction can help to reduce the risk of this and other meth-related health problems.

What Is Meth Psychosis?

During meth-induced psychosis, a person may develop delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and violent behavior. These states may make it difficult for a person to separate their perceptions from what is real. It can also make them dangerous to themselves or those around them.

A person who uses meth recreationally is two to three times more likely to develop psychosis than those who do not use this drug. Those who use the drug chronically, however, have an 11 times greater risk.

Prior to developing psychosis, a person who uses meth may encounter a pre-psychotic state that is marked by delusional moods and ideas of reference, or believing that everyday events have great personal significance. Delusions and hallucinations accompany full-blown psychosis.

People who are dependent on meth, who use high doses, who experienced childhood trauma, and/or who start taking the drug at a young age have an increased risk of having psychotic symptoms. The sleep deprivation that often accompanies meth use may aggravate these symptoms as well.

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Meth psychosis can begin while a person is using the drug or during withdrawal. It can happen to people who have never had a psychotic episode or to those who have experienced one for a different reason.

Individuals who have a genetic vulnerability to psychosis or a preexisting psychotic disorder like schizophrenia may develop psychosis or experience a worsening of their symptoms when using this drug. Certain individuals may experience recurrent psychosis that resembles schizophrenia.

Methamphetamine Psychosis Signs And Symptoms

When a person is suffering from meth psychosis their speech may be disorganized, causing them to speak rapidly and quickly change subjects. They may also talk to a person who isn’t really there or get into an argument for no discernible cause.

Major warning signs of meth psychosis include:

  • Meth delusions: A person has strange, unrealistic, and/or false beliefs.
  • Meth hallucinations: Auditory, visual, or tactic hallucinations make a person hear, see, or feel things that don’t exist.
  • Meth paranoia: A person becomes extremely suspicious of those around them and may even believe that people are out to get them.

Additional signs and symptoms of meth psychosis include:

  • agitation
  • confusion
  • hostility
  • hypervigilance
  • irrational and unpredictable behavior
  • jumpiness
  • mania
  • overreactive behaviors

Meth Mites

Also known as crank bugs or ice bugs, meth mites are one of the most well-known symptoms of meth psychosis. Meth mites are a type of tactile hallucination known as formication that can be caused by a delusion referred to as delusional parasitosis.

When a person has meth mites it feels as if insects are crawling or burrowing in or beneath their skin. A person may have sores or scarring from picking at these imaginary bugs. Potentially serious skin infections, like staph and strep, could result from a person digging at their skin.

How Long Does Meth Psychosis Last?

The timeline of meth psychosis can vary and be dependent on each person’s physical makeup, mental health, and severity of drug use. Symptoms may happen after only one use, a few months after a person starts taking the drug, or 20 or more years after use begins.

Meth psychosis may last several hours, and on average, a person typically recovers from it in one week. However, psychosis sometimes lasts for months and even years after a person quits taking the drug. Spontaneous psychotic episodes may also be triggered by stress or by using the drug again.

Meth Psychosis Treatment

Individuals experiencing meth psychosis in need of treatment for addiction may need specialized behavioral healthcare services prior to enrolling in a rehab program.

Antipsychotics, medications for anxiety, and medications for insomnia may be used as part of treatment for psychosis. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be beneficial for both meth psychosis and dependence. Once a person has stabilized, treatment can focus on addiction.

Individuals with a co-occurring mental health disorder, or a mental illness with meth addiction, such as schizophrenia, may be better served in an inpatient or residential treatment program for meth.

A dual diagnosis treatment program integrates care for both the mental health and substance use disorders, so that a person has the greatest chance for a stable and long-lasting recovery from meth.

Contact Vertava Health now for more info on meth use, addiction, and treatment options.