Schizophrenia Daily News Blog
CRYSTAL METH USE CAN HAVE DISTURBING SIDE EFFECTS, ACCORDING TO HEALTH-CARE WORKERS AND COUNSELLORS
A new story out of Canada discusses the use of methamphetamine and its relation to psychosis. It seems that the use of methamphetamine or as it sometimes called, crystal meth , has the potential to induce psychosis:
Dr. Keizer a spike in the number of youth with psychosis after using meth in the winter of 2004. It dropped a bit in the summer months but picked up again this past winter. She sees youth, mostly boys, who hear voices in the walls, in their heads and believe they’re being chased. The psychosis lasts anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year with no end in sight. Methamphetamine changes the structure of the brain.It can be an “on switch” for schizophrenia, she said. “So we can clean you up, get the drugs out of your system and you’re still psychotic because you’ve turned on that switch, and I do see that. I’ll diagnose them with psychosis secondary to substance abuse, but a year down the road I diagnose them as schizophrenic…. I’ve had a lot of cases and that’s why I’m disturbed by this.”
Source: Title: “HAUNTED: CRYSTAL METH USE CAN HAVE DISTURBING SIDE EFFECTS, ACCORDING TO HEALTH-CARE WORKERS AND COUNSELLORS” Author: LAURA CUDWORTH Date: July 6, 2005.
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
- Increased breathing
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 brains reward circuit dopamine is a naturally occurring brain chemical.
At artificially high levels the brain learns to repeat taking the drug because its 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.
Drug Use Does Not Cause Schizophrenia
Drug use, especially abuse or misuse, is said to trigger schizophrenia symptoms in people who are already susceptible to the mental illness. For example, many people who abuse methamphetamines experience psychotic symptoms due to their drug use. Drug-induced paranoia is common in these situations. But this only qualifies as drug-induced schizophrenia if there is an underlying case of schizophrenia. For people being treated for and recovering from earlier episodes of schizophrenia, this drug-induced psychosis can cause a relapse in those with schizophrenia.
This can happen to a person whether they know or dont know that they have schizophrenia. For this reason, it can sometimes seem that people experiencing drug-induced schizophrenia symptoms develop the mental illness as a result of drug use. But really, they already had schizophrenia and may have even been showing symptoms of it, but this may not be apparent before a drug-induced schizophrenic episode.
According to The American Journal of Psychiatry, the DSM-5 distinguishes between schizophrenia and drug-induced psychosis in other ways as well, citing that the main difference is the length of the psychotic episode. Studies have also shown that individuals who experience substance-induced psychosis who then progress to schizophrenia are genetically vulnerable to schizophrenia.
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Psychosis Leading To Schizophrenia
Nonetheless, its possible for someone to experience drug-induced psychosis before showing signs of schizophrenia, whether or not the former is causing the latter. Research has found a link between substance-induced psychosis and the later development of schizophrenia. In the study, about one-third of patients who experienced this type of psychosis developed either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder within the following 20 years, although the onset of schizophrenia often occurred within a few years of the psychosis. The researchers found an association with all types of substance-induced psychosis, with the exception of sedatives. The incidence of schizophrenia went up to about half in those with psychosis induced by cannabis.
It is not clear whether the substance-induced psychosis is causing the schizophreniathe results are correlational and not necessarily causal. Its possible that a person is already prone to schizophrenia, and that proneness may lead to the drug-induced psychosis rather than the other way around.
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What Is A Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health disorder where a person experiences both schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorder symptoms at the same time. Schizophrenic symptoms can include audio and visual hallucinations, which means that you see or hear things that other people doesnt. In some cases, other senses like touch may be affected, but thats rare. You may also have delusions, which are firmly held beliefs that arent based in reality. For instance, a common delusion is that some governmental power, like the FBI, is watching or controlling you.
Schizophrenia symptoms can also manifest in a lack of emotional range, slow and fragmented speech, word salad, and trouble initiating goal-oriented behavior. A schizoaffective disorder also comes with mood disorder symptoms, which can include periods of mania where you feel abnormally energized and overexcited, followed by major depression. Sometimes a schizoaffective only comes with depression symptoms alongside psychosis with no manic episodes.
Schizoaffective disorders are complex, and they can be difficult to cope with without help. Severe cases can be debilitating, causing you to be unable to communicate and live an independent life. However, schizoaffective disorders often respond well to treatment and medication.
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Crystal Meth Produces Schizophrenia
Jake remembers the first time he saw the army people. High on crystal meth, he was well into his third day without sleep. Along with the boundless energy and heightened sense of alertness came the mind-bending hallucinations.
“One day I was so delusional… There were these trees on top of this overpass, and they looked like army people, dressed up with guns, marching down,” the 19-year-old says between faint smiles and sips of strong coffee. “It was in the middle of the day, and I asked this truck driver, ‘What’s with all those army people?’ He just looked at me. He was, like, ‘What?’ It was actually fun for me. I enjoyed the hallucinations.”
But Jake started to notice that those visions kept happening even when he wasn’t using meth. That’s when he started getting scared.
“When the symptoms don’t go away after you do it, it’s no fun. That’s when you know you’re kinda hooped.”
Jake is sitting in a hotel coffee shop in Tsawwassen on a deadly hot summer morning. He’s just called local psychiatrist Bill MacEwan, asking for a refill of his antipsychotic and antidepressant medication. He’ll take anything to counter the paranoia and delusions that continue to poison his thinking. Jake wasn’t always so anxious. But that was years ago before he started using crystal meth.
It’s also Vancouver’s new demon.
According to the World Health Organization, methamphetamine is the most widely used illicit drug in the world after cannabis.
Treatment Options For Meth Abuse Or Schizophrenia
Meth-induced psychosis and schizophrenia have different treatment methods. Meth psychosis is likely a sign of a chronic substance use disorder. Treatment may involve reducing your dependence on methamphetamine and learning skills to replace substance abuse.
Treatment for schizophrenia may focus on managing symptoms of psychosis and learning how to function after a psychotic episode. While schizophrenia does not historically respond well to treatment, new methods are always being researched and developed.
Both conditions can affect your ability to function in everyday life. To find the best mental health or addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, talk to your healthcare professional or contact us today.
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Risk Factors For Developing Meth Psychosis
Although meth hallucinations and psychosis are common symptoms of meth use, they arent always present as the drug effects everyone differently. There are, however, some risk factors that make it more likely that doing meth will result in psychosis.
The biggest risk factor of developing meth psychosis is the use of meth itself. Chronic meth users are five times more likely to experience psychotic symptoms while using meth compared to periods of abstinence.
If you begin using meth as a teen, you are more likely to experience psychosis as one of the effects of smoking meth. Those who use other drugs, as well as those with a history of abuse or a family history of psychotic disorders, are more likely to experience psychosis while using this drug.
Schizophrenia And Street Drugs
The use of street drugs has very important implications for people suffering from schizophrenia. Over half of all those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia in the UK have a diagnosed drug or alcohol abuse problem running alongside their mental illness and a recent US study found that around 26% of people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia use street drugs.6 In addition there is considerable debate at the moment around the issue of whether street drug use in the early years can actually cause schizophrenia to develop later on.
Below we consider some of these issues and ask whether street drug use has any place in recovery from schizophrenia.
Some street drugs like amphetamine cause symptoms similar to psychosis.
Street Drug Use and Psychotic Symptoms
A number of drugs used illicitly for recreational purposes do cause symptoms similar to those experienced in psychosis. For instance cocaine and methamphetamine can both cause paranoia and amphetamine and LSD can cause visual hallucinations. Cannabis can cause both auditory hallucinations and paranoia. It is thought that this is caused by the primary active constituent of cannabis a chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.11
Cannabis and Schizophrenia
There is now some evidence linking schizophrenia with cannabis use.
Other Effects of Street Drugs
Using street drugs will seriously affect your finances and lead to long term debt problems.
Beating a Drug Habit
Family and Friends
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How Long Does Meth Psychosis Last
The timeline of meth psychosis can vary and be dependent on each persons physical makeup, mental health, and severity of drug use. Symptoms may happen after only one use, a few months after a person starts taking the drug, or 20 or more years after use begins.
Meth psychosis may last several hours, and on average, a person typically recovers from it in one week. However, psychosis sometimes lasts for months and even years after a person quits taking the drug. Spontaneous psychotic episodes may also be triggered by stress or by using the drug again.
Can Meth Use Cause Schizophrenia
Considering everything weve gone over, you may now be wondering, Can meth cause permanent schizophrenia? Yes, meth can cause permanent schizophrenia for several reasons. First, meth can increase your likelihood or vulnerability to schizophrenia because of its impact on neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Early research has shown that meth-induced psychosis can progress into schizophrenia, producing symptoms like paranoia and anxiety.1
Second, people with schizophrenia or a family history of schizophrenia are more likely to experience drug-induced psychosis if they abuse methamphetamine. However, this isnt guaranteed. Not everyone who abused meth experiences psychosis, and not everyone with meth-induced psychosis develops schizophrenia. However, any pre-existing mental disorder can increase the likelihood of meth-induced psychosis, and drug-induced psychosis can cause an onset of schizophrenia symptoms.
Also, because the high that vaping causes is short-lived, it encourages users to vape more in a short period. So, not only does vaping give you a buzz, but long-term use also increases your risk of developing nicotine addiction as well as potentially life-threatening respiratory and lung problems.
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What Is A Hallucination
A hallucination occurs when you see or hear things that arent real. The following are examples of various types of hallucinations:
Visual Hallucinations These occur when you see things that arent there. You think they are there, as your eyes see them, but the fact is theyre just not there. Visual hallucinations can consist of seeing various objects, people, animals, and more.
Auditory Hallucinations This type of hallucination occurs when you hear things that arent really there. Hearing voices in your head that arent real is one example.
Tactile Hallucinations These occur when you actually feel things that arent really there. A prime example of a meth-induced hallucination is experiencing the tactile sensation of bugs crawling on or under your skin. Under the influence of meth, you might scratch and scratch at your skin because of this hallucination, and develop meth sores.
Olfactory Hallucinations These occur when you smell things that arent in the air.
Gustatory Hallucinations Tasting things that arent in your mouth.
People who experience meth psychosis are more apt to experience visual hallucinations over other types.
Methamphetamine Psychosis: Why It Happens And How You Can Get Help
Psychosis is a mental state in which your thoughts and perceptions become distorted, making it hard for you to tell whatâs real from whatâs not. You may see or hear things that arenât there, believe things that are clearly false, and be unable to relate normally to others.
Meth abuse can trigger psychosis. This alarming symptom compounds the danger of meth abuse, because it can cause you to act erratically. This may put your job, your freedom, your relationships, and even your life in jeopardy.
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Getting Help After Drug
The unfortunate reality is that schizophrenia is still very misunderstood and stigmatized. With better and more accurate information available, people suffering from this mental illness would be better able to get the proper treatment they need and deserve. While drug abuse can undoubtedly cause a schizophrenic episode, research does not suggest that drug abuse causes schizophrenia. This is what is meant by the phrase drug-induced schizophrenia.
But whether there is a drug-induced schizophrenic episode or not, there remains a significant percentage of people who suffer from schizophrenia also abuse drugs, which can cause schizophrenic symptoms to return or worsen. This fact makes dual diagnosis treatment so crucial for individuals suffering from both of these problems.
In order to help the individuals who genuinely need help, treatment must address both mental illness and drug use. This is exactly what dual diagnosis treatment offers. Its well known that many individuals who suffer from mental illnesses self-medicate themselves with dangerous and harmful substances. For this reason, in order for an individual to successfully abstain from abusing drugs and alcohol, its necessary to treat the mental illness along with the substance abuse. If only the addiction is treated or just the mental illness is treated, its unlikely that a person would make a full recovery because there will be other lingering problems associated with the untreated condition.
Can Drugs Cause Or Trigger Schizophrenia
Drugs do not directly lead to or cause schizophrenia. However, studies have found that drug abuse increases the odds of developing schizophrenia or other related illnesses. Specific drugs like cocaine, cannabis, LSD, or amphetamines can trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in those more susceptible to the condition. Using stimulant drugs like cocaine or amphetamines can cause psychosis, leading to relapse in those recovering from an earlier psychotic episode. Research has also found that teenagers and young adults who use cannabis increase the chances of developing schizophrenia later in adulthood.
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Chronic Meth Psychosis Vs Schizophrenia
The profiles of acute METH psychosis, persistent METH psychosis and schizophrenia have also been compared. Chen et al. examined the positive symptoms experienced by those with acute METH psychosis , persistent METH psychosis and schizophrenia using the PANNS. Those with persistent METH psychosis and schizophrenia demonstrated comparable severity and frequency of positive symptoms, and both of these groups had PANNS scores that were significantly higher than those in the acute METH psychosis group. These findings may suggest that those with acute METH psychosis may not experience positive symptoms to the same frequency and severity as those with schizophrenia and chronic METH psychosis. However, it should be noted that those in the acute METH group were abstinent for an average of 9 weeks at the time of assessment, and therefore, the results may not truly reflect the severity of these symptoms experienced at the time of their psychotic episodes.
Treatments For Schizophrenia And Meth Use Disorder
If schizophrenia is your primary diagnosis, treatment often includes:
Focus on not using meth
Avoiding relapse of meth use
Preventing psychotic symptoms from coming back
If you have other disorders in addition to schizophrenia or meth-induced psychosis, like depression, treatment would also include treating the depression. This is important to prevent relapse of meth use and it could help improve psychotic symptoms.
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What Treatment Exists For Meth And Schizophrenia
Given the strong link between meth use and psychosis, it can be hard to give a clear diagnosis of schizophrenia, meth-induced psychosis, or both. Having the right diagnosis is important in planning treatment.
Health providers are able to make an accurate diagnosis when they consider information such as:
If you have a history of psychotic episodes that were unrelated to substance use
If symptoms developed before or after you used meth
How long symptoms lasted after you stopped using meth
As part of the diagnostic process, providers may also review your medical records and speak with family members or people with whom you are close.