Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Holding On To Drugs

Substance abuse, mental illness and medical complications go hand in hand; rarely do you have one without the other in the psychiatric world. In other words, a psychiatric illness without a medical comorbidity is possible, but oftentimes, there’s something at play behind the scenes, even if it’s something as common as high blood pressure. Don’t automatically assume that someone who abuses drugs does not have a medical illness; sometimes the drugs are there to mask the physical symptoms or even the psychiatric symptoms!

And don’t assume that someone who has a psychiatric condition does not abuse drugs; the psychiatric condition can be secondary to drugs. This is the case with substance-induced depressive or psychotic disorder. Substances are capable of inducing temporary psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety, panic disorder, depressive disorder or a psychotic episode.

The key word is “temporary” because once the patient has metabolized the substance, the psychiatric condition tends to dissipate. This is because it was the chemical component of the drug that was inducing the symptoms in the patient’s brain. Once the drug is out of the body, the symptoms tend to subside and the patient returns back to a normal state of mind. But there are many cases where the psychiatric symptoms persist and that is the big danger that comes with abusing substances.

The problem with chronic drug users is that their addiction can repeatedly bring back a psychotic state of mind throughout their episodes of binging. But even when they experience auditory hallucinations of voices commanding them to kill themselves, they continue to go back to using their drug of choice. In other words, they’ll enter a hospital for a few days to become mentally stable after metabolizing the substances in their system, and then be discharged with the same intent of continuing to use their drug of choice.

The hospital is a temporary lodging station for their psychosis to clear up. For instance, someone who is experiencing psychosis from cocaine most likely will not want to stay home and continue to experience frightening psychiatric symptoms; they have all the desire in the world to obtain professional care under the supervision of psychiatrists while in the hospital.

But that’s the disappointing theme with drug addicts: even after obtaining a successful medical and psychiatric treatment, they tend to go back to their old behavior of getting high. Drug addiction is often more deadly than depression with suicidal ideations because drugs impair the user’s judgment, impulse and even insight, increasing their chances of actually harming themselves. On the other hand, someone who is only depressed and does not abuse drugs can more easily recover because of the psychiatric medications taking effect.

Someone who uses drugs will often be noncompliant with medications; their compliance is tied to their drug of choice because it’s all about getting high and feeling good. At the end of the day, pleasure dominates the drug addict’s lifestyle at the expense of their sanity.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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