Methamphetamine can be a highly addictive, unpredictable drug. Also called ice or crystal meth, the drug is associated with severe negative symptoms and psychiatric symptoms; when someone uses it psychosis can occur, as can many other side effects; For people concerned when this situation occurs we will attempt to answer the question “How long does meth psychosis last?”
Methamphetamine-induced psychosis tends to be different from schizophrenia. It requires careful examination of diagnostic criteria to compare drug psychosis disorder to schizophrenia. Below we’ll talk more about the high-risk factors associated with meth use, including psychosis among individuals who use the stimulant, and treatment implications.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , is a powerful stimulant affecting the central nervous system. Even using this particular drug just once or a few times creates serious adverse outcomes, including the risk of schizophrenia-like symptoms. Sometimes a diagnosis of schizophrenia is even made in these situations since it can be a differential diagnosis for substance-induced psychosis.
- The drug was initially developed in the early 20th century, with use in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants.
- Like amphetamine, use leads to increased energy levels, talkativeness, more activity, a decreased appetite, and euphoria.
- The primary difference between amphetamine is that meth tends to go into the brain at much larger doses because the ability to pass the blood-brain barrier in high doses makes it much more potent with a more profound impact than amphetamine.
- Meth has longer-lasting effects on the central nervous system (CNS) making behavioral health issues more possible.
- According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it’s a Schedule II stimulant.
What Happens When You Take Meth?
Even in small doses, you may notice a rush of energy and wakefulness. Other short-term effects and clinical implications of substance abuse include:
- Cardiovascular problems including rapid heart rate increased blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat, as is often the case with CNS drugs
- Hyperthermia, which an elevated body temperature, is a common symptom
- With an overdose, convulsions may occur and can be life-threatening
- Decreased appetite
- Increased breathing
- Decreased fatigue
Shortly after use, you may experience euphoria, also known as being high. The feelings of joy the drug creates are likely because it triggers the release of large amounts of dopamine into the brain’s reward circuit; dopamine is a naturally occurring brain chemical.
At artificially high levels the brain learns to repeat taking the drug because it’s a pleasurable, rewarding activity. Dopamine is part of your motor function and motivation. The release of dopamine into the reward circuit is a feature of all addictive drugs; a genetic vulnerability can factor into addiction.
The Long-Term Effects
Even compared to other addictive substances, the side effects of meth abuse are especially dangerous.
- Addiction is a chronic disease with compulsive drug seeking and use. Addiction also includes functional changes in the brain. Substance use disorders are considered relapsing diseases.
- Chronic use may also cause you to develop a tolerance. With tolerance to any substance, you’re going to need higher, more frequent doses to get the effects you desire and initially liked about taking it.
- You may also have to change how you use the drug to amplify the results when you have a tolerance.
Over time, you’re going to have a hard time feeling pleasure or even happiness in any other way than with the drug. You can develop other co-occurring psychiatric disorders as a result of that.
Symptoms of long-term use can include:
- Weight loss
- Meth Mouth
- Insomnia and sleep deprivation
- Mood disturbances
- Violent behaviors including intimate partner violence and other forms of violence
- Aggressive behavior
- Psychotic episodes
- Generally poor physical health
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
Physical dependency on meth forms as well.
- When you’re physically dependent, if you were to try and stop using the substance or perhaps even cut down your dose, you would experience withdrawal symptoms because of the effects of meth use.
- Withdrawal symptoms from meth can include extreme cravings and fatigue.
- Also possible is the development of symptoms of a psychiatric disorder like depression or anxiety.
What is Methamphetamine Psychosis?
For some people, you may develop psychosis relatively quickly after beginning to use, even one hour after taking the drug. Symptoms can be similar to paranoid schizophrenia and similar psychotic disorders. Meth-induced psychosis is a severe mental health condition that can affect perceptions and senses.
Facts to know about acute psychosis or persistent psychosis include:
- Episodes of psychosis affect emotions and thoughts
- It’s possible to have paranoid or imagined experiences
- During psychosis, you may experience delusions and hallucinations at the same time
- Psychosis can lead toward aggression to other people and violent behavior
- You may have an inability to manage impulses
When we see drug users, they’ll often have sores or infections on their skin. These effects relate to psychosis. Sometimes abuse can cause people to imagine bugs are crawling on their skin. They may obsessively pick or scratch at what they think is there, leading to sores.
What Causes Methamphetamine-Induced Psychosis?
When someone takes a stimulant, activity of the brain increases, as does dopamine production.
- The increase in dopamine production leads to an imbalance.
- A chemical imbalance in the brain can lead to extreme mood swings and psychosis, similar to other mental disorders.
- With ongoing abuse, these parts of the brain become too stimulated. That overstimulation then leads to paranoia or the desire to commit violence.
- Anyone who uses meth is at risk for the development of psychotic symptoms or a substance-induced psychotic disorder.
- The longer someone uses it and the higher the doses, the more likely this form of psychosis symptoms will occur.
- Chronic users increase their risk substantially of acute symptoms over time, as well as longer-lasting cognitive deficits.
Understanding the Symptoms and Signs of Meth Psychosis
Below, we go into a bit more detail about some of the symptoms of psychosis from this illicit drug:
When you take this drug, you may start experiencing meth hallucinations, where you could see or hear things that aren’t there or feel sensations. We mentioned the feeling of bugs crawling on the skin as a frequent experience meth users report, which falls into the category of tactile hallucinations.
Auditory hallucinations can also occur, where someone hears things that aren’t there, such as voices. Visual hallucinations are another category of specific symptoms that can occur.
Delusions are beliefs that aren’t true and based on reality and are common meth psychosis symptoms among chronic users. The mind-altering effects of the stimulant drug create delusions.
Different types of delusions may occur. For example, you might start to believe someone is following you. Delusions sometimes occur with other mental health disorders as well.
Paranoia is frequently associated with psychotic symptoms. The increase in brain activity triggers both paranoid thoughts and ruminations. Paranoia and similar cognitive symptoms can also occur during meth withdrawal.
Someone who experiences the signs of meth-induced psychosis may behave aggressively toward other people or themselves. Violence and aggression are more common symptoms among methamphetamine users, putting the people around them at risk.
How Long Does Meth Psychosis Last?
It’s difficult to give a particular timetable for how long psychosis might last. For most people with meth psychosis, once they stop using the drug, it will subside within a week. The use of antipsychotics can help symptoms.
For other people, episodes may be longer-term or even be a permanent adverse effect of use. Researchers believe this occurs when there’s more profound brain damage from the use of the drug, creating more vulnerability to recurrent psychosis.
Recovery from Meth Psychosis
Recovery from substance-induced psychosis and addiction is possible. At a qualified addiction treatment center, the staff will help you as you go through withdrawal symptoms. It’s never too late to get treatment.
During this time, as you go through meth withdrawal and any other substances you’re dependent on, medical staff can keep you safe and somewhat comfortable. If you were to experience psychosis, the medical team could help manage these symptoms. Meth-induced psychosis may need to be treated similarly to schizophrenia or a schizoaffective disorder to get it under control.
After a period of abstinence from use, your brain may be able to heal, helping to eliminate acute or chronic psychosis symptoms.
From there, you might receive a more in-depth treatment plan. Treatment for meth addiction and dependence will usually include a combination of antipsychotic medication and therapy. Your treatment will also depend on whether you have any previous history of psychosis or mental illness such as bipolar disorder.
Recovery from meth psychosis and addiction takes time and patience and the proper treatment protocol and medical attention. Treatment also requires an accurate diagnosis and pharmacological treatment while working with an addiction specialist.
Vulnerability to psychosis is just one of many risks that come with use, requiring proper treatment and recognition of clinical features.
If you’d like to learn more about why we’re the best addiction treatment center available, contact the team at Opus Health now by calling 855-953-1345 to learn more. Our treatment options can help you as you’re dealing with the acute effects of meth withdrawal and longer-term strategies to remain drug-free.