Substance-Induced Psychosis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

woman sitting on a couch talking to a therapist

Substance-induced psychosis is a horrific experience commonly characterized by detachment from reality or delusional behavior.  It can be triggered by various factors and is crucial to educate oneself about this condition, its prevention, and its treatment if you or a loved one is at risk of substance-induced psychosis.


There are numerous substances that can cause or contribute to psychosis, with many of them being illicit or otherwise harmful.  These include cocaine, methamphetamines, alcohol, and hallucinogens, with some posing a higher risk of psychosis than others.

Psychosis is most likely to occur following heavy or long-term substance use but can sometimes happen the first time a substance is used.  After an episode, the probability of a repeat episode becomes relatively high.  According to a 2021 study, victims of substance-induced psychosis are also more likely to develop schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in the future.  This risk further increases if the existing symptoms remain untreated.


Substance-induced psychosis typically involves a set of similar symptoms where patients experience hallucinations and delusions.  This can include seeing or hearing nonexistent sensations, like insects crawling on your skin.  They can also experience delusions where they are convinced that something is falsely true, such as having a health condition or possessing special abilities.

Substance-induced psychosis can last an unpredictable length of time, depending on the affected individual’s medical history and the substances involved.  If medical attention is administered quickly, psychosis is more likely to be treated and cured.  Otherwise, the condition could lead to detrimental psychological conditions.  Therefore, those with pre-existing mental health or substance abuse issues are considered to be at higher risk for psychosis.  Other notable risk factors involve starting substance use at a young age, consuming high quantities of the substance, or having a history of substance-induced psychosis.


If a friend or loved one is experiencing symptoms of substance-induced psychosis, the first and arguably most action you should take is to immediately seek emergency medical attention.  This is because, as stated in a 2022 case study, delayed treatment is associated with worse outcomes and the possibility of permanent psychological damage or conditions.  When receiving medical care, individuals with psychotic symptoms can undergo treatment that may alleviate or even reverse their symptoms.  It is crucial to avoid engaging in arguments with individuals experiencing delusions, as these are fixed false beliefs that cannot be changed.  Attempting to dispute or challenge their delusions may only escalate their agitation and worsen the situation.

JADE Wellness Can Help

For many, addiction and abuse can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in grave consequences.  If you or a loved one is struggling with substance-induced psychosis or addiction to any substance, JADE Wellness is here to help you.  JADE Wellness Center is Pittsburgh’s first comprehensive medication-assisted treatment center, also offering individual and group therapy sessions.  Call us at 412-380-0100 or visit the JADE Wellness Center website to begin your path to recovery.