January 18, 2024

Drug-Induced Schizophrenia: Info, Symptoms, & Treatment

A man appears in thought, as he considers Drug-induced schizophrenia symptoms

Drug use itself is not a direct cause of schizophrenia. That said, it may act as a catalyst, exacerbating pre-existing schizophrenia symptoms like psychosis.

This guide to drug induced schizophrenia explores the following issues:

  • Can schizophrenia be drug induced?
  • Drug-induced psychosis vs schizophrenia: what’s the difference?
  • What are the drugs that induce schizophrenia?

You can also discover how to connect with evidence-based treatment for drug-induced mental illness in California.

What Is Drug-Induced Schizophrenia?

To grasp the concept of drug-induced schizophrenia, it’s useful to first consider its closely related counterpart, drug-induced psychosis.

Substance induced schizophrenia arises when a person uses addictive substances, which can range from recreational drugs to prescribed medications, and experiences a reaction. Sometimes, this reaction is the desired outcome, like seeking an escape from reality. Not all instances of psychosis are deliberate, though. It can occur unexpectedly when trying a new medication, mixing medications for the first time, or using a certain drug or substance.

Many people experience a brief episode of psychosis that resolves itself without treatment, subsiding as the drug’s effects diminish. In some cases, though, individuals may develop a more severe, long-term condition known as drug-induced schizophrenia. This disorder includes many symptoms seen in drug-induced psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions, but they tend to be more intense and persistent.

A woman appears distressed, depicting Symptoms of drug induced schizophrenia

Drug-Induced Schizophrenia Symptoms

Drug-induced schizophrenia arises when the use of certain substances triggers the presentation of schizophrenia-like symptoms. Developing an awareness of these symptoms can help inform timely intervention and appropriate support.

  • Hallucinations: Drug-induced hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of this condition. Individuals may hear voices or see things that are not there. These sensory experiences can be frightening and disorienting, profoundly impacting daily life.
  • Delusions: These are false beliefs that are not based in reality. For example, a person might believe they are being persecuted or have exceptional abilities. These delusions are often bizarre and can cause significant distress.
  • Disorganized thinking: This symptom manifests as confused thinking or speech. Individuals may have trouble organizing their thoughts or connecting them logically, making communication challenging.
  • Social withdrawal: A noticeable reduction in social engagement and interest. Individuals might isolate themselves, avoid social interactions, and lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
  • Emotional flatness: A marked decrease in emotional expression. This might include speaking in a monotone voice, having a diminished facial expression, or showing less enthusiasm for life.
  • Cognitive challenges: Difficulty with concentration, memory, and decision-making are also common. These cognitive challenges can affect the ability to function in daily life.

Drug-induced schizophrenia is a chronic condition that requires professional attention. Recovery and rehabilitation facilities offer comprehensive care, including therapy, medication management, and support groups, to help individuals regain control over their lives. If you or someone you know is showing signs of drug-induced schizophrenia, reaching out for professional help is a critical first step towards recovery.

Treatment for Drug-Induced Schizophrenia

The initial step in treating drug-induced psychosis is to discontinue the drug causing the issue. To alleviate symptoms like agitation, healthcare providers may use benzodiazepines or antipsychotics. For stimulant-induced psychosis, such as from amphetamines, antipsychotics are often effective. In cases involving substances like LSD, a tranquil environment and careful observation might suffice.

Most people recover within two to three days. For instance, patients experiencing tactile hallucinations, like feeling bugs on their skin, often respond well to antipsychotic treatment.

If psychotic symptoms persist, consult a psychiatrist or neurologist. These professionals can evaluate for underlying mental health issues, medical conditions, or neurological disorders that might have triggered the psychosis.

After the resolution of psychotic symptoms, those who are physically dependent may benefit from entering a rehabilitation program. A holistic treatment approach is recommended, focusing not just on medication and therapy, but also on incorporating factors like social support, environmental changes, and finding purpose.

For those with a history of drug-induced psychosis, especially if brought on by prescription medications, inform doctors and pharmacists to prevent a recurrence.

In individuals with schizophrenia, substance misuse can lead to more severe symptoms and a less favorable response to treatment. Chronic psychosis can also hinder the effectiveness of conventional addiction programs that don’t specialize in psychiatric care.

Promptly seeking treatment for psychotic symptoms is vital. Early intervention can ensure appropriate care and minimize the long-term impact of these symptoms.


Is drug-induced schizophrenia permanent?

Drug-induced schizophrenia is not permanent – it typically improves once the person stops using the drug that triggered the psychosis, distinguishing it from the enduring nature of true schizophrenia.

What is the difference between drug-induced psychosis vs schizophrenia?

The main difference between drug-induced psychosis and schizophrenia lies in their duration and underlying causes. Drug-induced psychosis is a temporary condition resulting from substance use, whereas schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder with symptoms lasting more than six months, often influenced by genetic and environmental factors.

How long does drug-induced schizophrenia last?

The duration of drug-induced schizophrenia can vary depending on the specific drug and individual factors, but it typically resolves relatively quickly after drug cessation. Unlike true schizophrenia, it is not a long-term condition.

Can drug induced schizophrenia be permanent?

If you’re wondering can drug induced schizophrenia go away, the condition is not normally permanent. Its duration depends on factors such as the drug involved and individual circumstances. However, it typically resolves once the drug use ceases, distinguishing it from the enduring nature of true schizophrenia.

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Get Treatment for Drug Addiction & Mental Health at Gratitude Lodge

When addictions and mental health conditions co-occur, integrated dual diagnosis treatment is proven to deliver the most positive outcomes. We can help you address any type of addiction and co-occurring mental health condition at Gratitude Lodge in Long Beach and Newport Beach, California.

During supervised detoxification at our pet-friendly facilities, you can combat dependence on drugs or alcohol. Medications can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, streamlining the detox process. After a week or so, you can move into an ongoing inpatient treatment program to deal with the psychological aspect of addiction, while at the same time tackling any underlying mental health conditions.

Dual diagnosis treatment options may include:

Call 800-994-2184 for effective dual diagnosis treatment in Southern California.

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Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

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