Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Three same female faces with red glitter under eyes

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)

Getting High During Social Distancing

Person holding unrolled cannabis joint with grinders on table

Is Your Brain The Real Enemy?

With so much time on your hands, your brain begins to beg you, “Please give me some candy so I can feel bomb!” The problem with listening to your brain’s demands is the same problem when you listen to a child’s continuous requests: you give up power as they gain more control. Getting high during social distancing is certainly very tempting but you have to resist your brain’s desires.

The coronavirus pandemic is a perfect time to develop a drug addiction; hence, why you have to redirect your mind away from substances. With so much free time on your hands and mixed feelings regarding the current social situation, substances become an avenue of escape; a destination that is often hard to return back from.

Getting high helps you to enhance your isolation at home. It makes activities such as cruising the web, watching YouTube videos, having sex, eating and putting on a Netflix show much more enjoyable. That’s because substances hijack your reward center in the brain and release great amounts of dopamine; much more than naturally released when having sex with an attractive partner!

That’s why half the world is addicted to a substance; it’s like candy for adults. Just as children love sugar highs, adults love a state of intoxication. Since we are little, we have been programed by society to enjoy getting high. The difference between those who do and don’t comes down to many factors, including the current COVID-19 pandemic!

Getting high may truly make your social distancing experience more enjoyable; no one is denying that. But are the consequences worth it? When all of the smoke clears up and the coronavirus dies down, will you want to be in a position of stepping out in public with an addiction on your hands? If you do end up in that position, the real enemy was your brain who convinced you all along to get high and you fell for it!

So don’t allow your brain to become your enemy. It does not always look out for what’s best for you; the brain is quite selfish! The human brain is so smart that it comes up with ways of tricking you into giving it what it desires. And once you give it a glimpse into the world of getting high, it will take full advantage of the dopamine rushes by keeping you hooked on drugs as much as it possibly can.

Control your mind and you will be in a good position to carry forward.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Alcohol Stole My Sanity

Black and white picture of woman passed out on pavement from alcohol

Voices In My Head

When people think of alcohol, they envision bumping parties, wild times at the bar or even a relaxed night in by the fireplace. Developing an addiction to alcohol is not so commonly thought about; usually people relate addiction with other drugs. But not only is alcohol one of the most addicting substances known to mankind, it can very easily steal your sanity.

Imagine becoming so dependent on alcohol that you lose everything: your home, car, job, friends and even family. Alcohol has the capability of doing that. The reason alcohol is so addicting is because it can be easily consumed and hidden from others, while other drugs require pipes, smoking, injections or snorting.

Once alcohol has you hooked, it moves on to its next objective: destruction of your mind. It does this by attempting to make you depressed, anxious and inducing withdrawal symptoms. This way, it can keep you hooked for longer. When you start to experience psychiatric symptoms, the first thing that you think of is drinking more.

The last thing that you think of is getting help; doing that would mean blowing up your cover of alcoholism. Most alcoholics are in denial and keep their drinking a secret for two reasons: they feel bad for themselves and are ashamed of their habit. But once alcohol has reached the stage of inducing psychiatric symptoms, alcoholics become even more tempted to keep their habit buried.

One of these psychiatric symptoms are auditory hallucinations of voices telling you to kill yourself or others. People don’t often associate alcohol with hallucinations but it does happen; it’s called substance-induced psychotic disorder. You don’t need meth or cocaine to make you psychotic; the liquor store down the street will do the trick.

Some alcoholics will seek psychiatric help and become prescribed to antipsychotics such as Seroquel or Olanzapine. But guess what happens when they drink on top of these medications? Nothing! The medications do not work if they are ingesting the same drug that caused the problems in the first place.

When the medications don’t work and the habit continues, suicidal ideations start to make an appearance. You start to entertain the idea that you are a failure and that you would be better off dead. So alcoholics will drink even more for two reasons: to get more intoxicated and to try to take their lives. This vicious pattern becomes worse if proper help is not sought after and if a supportive family is not around.

Who’s ready to join The DSM Ready Community and help all the alcoholics in the world? Alcoholism is a mental disease.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The House Of The Rising Sun

Green and white checkered painted tunnel

Lost Time In The Shadows Of Experimentation

The youth are often exposed to passageways which are not so commonly sought after in adulthood. These passageways are not physical entities but psychological ones. They are introduced among children and adolescents through thoughts, words and actions. Almost every one of them hears about these passageways, but not all of them want to traverse space and time. Many prefer to remain in the house of the rising sun.

These passageways lead to lost time in the shadows of experimentation. It often starts with a cigarette or two at a party, a bowl of marijuana in a random car ride or a Natty Light or Rolling Rock in someone’s basement. The youth that do decide to enter these passageways often do not return for a while. They become entangled in a web of sticky highs.

These highs take over their reality. What their parents say loses even more meaning, but what their peers say and do is highly regarded. When their peers applaud them for entering these passageways, their self-esteem receive a high jolt and their popularity increase. This is the moment they’ve finally been waiting for; the high school red carpet!

In these passageways, the substances change their perception on reality. They start to appreciate music more, attend wild concerts in Tennessee and experience random hookups every other weekend. Life in these passageways costs nothing more than a few dime bags, a bottle of Jack and a pack of Camel Lights.

But what the youth forget while traversing these passageways is that lost time cannot be regained. In the moment, they feel like they are on top of the world; “who needs time when flying sky high!” But these passageways do not remain smooth forever. There are many bumps in the road the deeper they go.

When reality starts to set in as they mature and acquire more responsibilities, they begin to realize that time was indeed lost. They are presented with a stop sign: either continue down the unpredictable passageways or crawl back up into reality. Some crawl out of these Super Mario green tunnels, while many continue floating on clouds with no final destination.

The house of the rising sun is not always available to return to. For those floating on clouds, they may never return back to the house of the rising sun. And for those who crawled out too late, well . . . the sun has already set sail.

Be careful when taking a trip down the rabbit hole.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Domestic Violence While High On Crack

Low-angle photo of hanged shoes on wire next to buildings during daytime

The Crack Shack

The impact of drugs on the human mind is so powerful, that an addict will often remain in an abusive relationship despite the adverse consequences. It’s very sad to hear about such stories, but they are quite common. Imagine a female crack addict who presents to the emergency room because her husband beat her with a broom. Domestic violence while high on crack is not a joke.

Many women who remain in abusive relationships continue to use drugs and return to their husbands despite being severely beaten. Usually their partners abuse drugs as well. In this case, crack is cheap, alters the mind and gives users more energy and confidence. When a crack husband beats on a crack wife, this is to show a force of authority.

Both of their self-esteems are already low from poverty, disease and addiction. For the husband, by demonstrating a dominating role, he starts to feel a little better about himself. The wife on the other hand has no place to go, so she comes back crawling to the husband, who is situated in the crack shack higher than a kite.

When the wife comes back, the husband looks at her like a cockroach invading his territory. But rather than stomping on it, he accepts her back for company and pleasure. But as soon as his mood goes berserk again, he reverts back to stroking his ego by beating her. This pattern can literally happen dozens of times with no end in sight.

The sad part of this situation is the wife who shows up to the psychiatric emergency room depressed and suicidal; even psychotic at times from her excessive drug use. What usually happens is that she’ll get admitted, become consistently medicated for a week or two at most and then discharged back into the community. She may be referred to a rehab but she probably won’t follow up.

Guess where she’ll end up? That’s how powerful drug addiction is. The crack shack stays open 24/7.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

My First Love Put A Needle Into Me

Green opium poppy plants growing in the wild

Welcome To Heroin My Love

This is the story of an Egyptian girl who was born and raised in Egypt and deviant from a young age. Her father was involved in criminal activity and she identified herself as “daddy’s girl.” She always felt like a rebel, sort of like daddy who was out in the streets dealing drugs. But little did she know that she would one day run into her first love, who would put a needle into her arm and introduce her to heroin.

Before heroin came along, she would experiment with hashish, pills and alcohol. Here was this rebellious 14-year-old girl who never had sex, but was in love with the high provided by drugs. She thought, “Hey this can’t be so bad. My own dad is out there selling drugs. What the hell!”

But the drugs that she was using were not satisfied with her performance. They wanted her to work up the ladder and meet their bigger and badder friends: heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, PCP, etc. So the drugs played around with her fate and set it up that she would run into her first boyfriend. Little did she know that her first boyfriend would be the deadliest.

This Egyptian boyfriend was older and more experienced than her. He viewed her as an innocent prize and she viewed him as her next big hit. And then sex happened; her virginity flew away faster than her shortest-lived highs. But this relationship was not only for sex, as the drugs had a masterplan and were utilizing the boyfriend for something bigger at play.

That is when her first love pulled out a needle, “Ever try heroin?” Excited by his tall and handsome stature as well as his adventurous side accompanied by his older age, she had no time to reply but just smile; this was a sign for “no but I’m all yours.” And right there and then, the tall and pretty Egyptian girl had a needle poked into her vein by her first love.

From that day on, she became a heroin addict for life. The relationship with her boyfriend did not last longer than a year or two. He was only an introduction or catalyst to her use of opioids. What did last was her relationship with heroin. The high that she was introduced to on that day was much more pleasurable than sex.

Little did she know that the needle that her first love put into her arm would infect her for life. And guess what happened to her previous drugs with the masterplan? They became satisfied with her newfound relationship with heroin, and left her life to infect other innocent teens.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Addiction Is Stronger Than Love

Drug addict using syringe on yellow rock on spoon

My Strange Addiction

For many people who first start using drugs, the thought of one day becoming addicted does not cross their minds. It all starts with in the moment curiosity, excitement and even fitting in. Some feel initial nerves about trying the drug, but the adventure of exploring new territory is greater than the fear. Once they cross that invisible line, for many, addiction becomes stronger than love.

Once someone is hooked on a drug, the necessity to acquire more of it becomes greater than the love that they have for themselves or others. At first it’s the high: something out of this world that they glorify and start to believe is the greatest thing in their life. They start to chase the high because it provides them with a more entertaining and pleasuring mindset, than they would otherwise experience from other activities.

But the problem with drugs is that tolerance quickly develops, requiring higher doses to achieve the same high. But with higher doses come more consequences: more money is wasted, more time is spent acquiring the drugs, changes in personality, increased exposure to dangerous situations, ruined relationships, withdrawal symptoms, etc.

Once withdrawal symptoms are experienced, most addicts come to the realization that they either have to stop and seek help, or continue using. Many continue using out of shame of seeking help, “If I seek help, then it’s official that I’m an addict and everyone will look down on me. I can’t let that happen. Gotta keep using.”

At this point, the love, responsibilities and feelings for others are placed aside, and the mission of acquiring more of the drug to prevent withdrawal becomes the aim. Once the drug is acquired, the relationships resurface on their minds, but their family and friends start to notice their change in behavior, questioning what is driving it.

But they cannot divulge their addiction because of shame. So they continue using in the shadows, getting high and maintaining their addiction that becomes stronger than their love for others. The drug has become their new love and nothing can break them apart. They’ll continue using until they’re burned out, overdose, die or hopefully gather the strength to seek help.

Addiction overtaking love is not uncommon in the world of drug addicts.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Ending The War On Drugs

Officers with black goggles and assault rifles

An Outdated Policy

It’s without a doubt that police officers work hard every day to keep our communities safe from drug dealers, criminals, rapists, stalkers, etc. But the war on drugs is an outdated policy that no longer serves our society any good. The opioid and meth epidemics continue to spiral out of control, with no improvement in outcomes.

When the U.S. government banned pseudoephedrine pills, the meth market in Portland, Oregon became controlled by the Mexican Cartel. As a matter of fact, the Mexican Cartel controls up to 60-80% of the drug market in the United States. While kingpin busts occur here and there, new lieutenants await around the corner to replace them.

Many of these drug smugglers are also illegal immigrants who eventually get caught, but because of their legal status, get deported back to Mexico with a slap on the wrist, only to start over from scratch. This is all while our fellow citizens continue to remain hooked on these deadly drugs.

If the war on drugs worked, we wouldn’t be facing drug epidemics in our country. You cannot defeat criminal organizations who rely on lucrative methods that make millions of dollars every year. As long as the demand for drugs continues, which it always will, the drug cartels will continue to work overtime to amass their wealth.

So what is the solution? We need to change our perspective on addiction. Rather than viewing it as a criminal act, it needs to be viewed as a public health concern. Addiction is a brain disease without a doubt. The only possible way of defeating the drug cartels, is most likely by legalizing all drugs.

When you have the U.S. government responsible for the manufacturing and regulation of all drugs, it will establish safety measures that will ensure the purification of drugs and the establishment of specialized drug centers where users will be required to consume them. Users will not be able to walk into a store similar to a liquor store or marijuana shop and take their drug of choice home.

If addicts want to use a certain drug, they will be required to spend a certain amount of time in a specialized drug center, as well as sign up for social services and mental health counseling. Many drug addicts will admit to you that it’s no longer the high that they are chasing; they are chasing the good effect that will get rid of their withdrawal symptoms.

The war on drugs has not worked since its inception. Is it not time to try something radically different, since we are dealing with multiple epidemics in our country with no clear solution on the horizon?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Trapped By Greed

Greedy man holding debit card while typing on laptop

More Money, More Problems

Materialism is so relevant in modern-day society, that it’s very easy to become obsessed with it. Becoming trapped by greed involves your excessive admiration and pursuit of material goods, even at the expense of relationships, morals, values and your soul. Greed has no boundaries; it can infect anyone at anytime.

Greed is a particular problem in modern-day society because we are easy to be awed by fancy cars, exotic houses, expensive brand name clothing and advanced technological gadgets. We are also living in an ultra-competitive society where a lot of people strive to get ahead of others academically, intellectually, financially and physically.

As evidenced by the college scandal in America, even celebrities who have millions of dollars are willing to sacrifice their integrity in order to secure a spot for their teenager at an ivy league school. It seems that the more you have in wealth and materialism, the more you continue to seek it.

The greatest rapper of all time, The Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t lying when he made the song, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Because for many, there seems to be some truth to this saying: when you start to accumulate wealth, you also start to desire more in the flesh. It becomes a psychological addiction to accumulate more material goods.

As with alcohol and other drugs, the brain releases great quantities of dopamine when you accumulate more material goods. When dopamine is released, you relate materialism with the sex-like or high-like feeling of the dopamine rush. So your mind becomes programmed to keep chasing wealth and materialism; this is what is meant by being trapped by greed.

The way to help alleviate greed is to focus on others. Rather than storing up treasures for yourself, you can become involved in the community or start meaningful and honest charities that are meant to help people who are struggling. When you redirect your energy onto helping others, your desire for materialism will start to dissipate.

There’s nothing wrong with being motivated to accumulate wealth, but know the fine line of modestly purchasing objects once in a while versus extravagant purchases every other day. Don’t become trapped by greed; as with any deadly sin, it has the potential to rob you of your soul. And what good does that do to you?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)