Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects nearly 1% of the population; according to the American Psychological Association, symptoms of this disorder can include delusions, hallucinations, difficulty thinking and concentrating, and lack of motivation. There is currently no cure for schizophrenia, but there are medications that one can take to reduce unwanted symptoms. A common fear amongst many is that certain drugs can cause a person to develop schizophrenia; there are some truths and myths behind this.
For example, evidence of marijuana-induced psychosis has been said to place a person at risk for schizophrenia – as much as 30%, according to a Swedish study. This means that cannabis doesn’t directly cause the development of schizophrenia, but it can cause symptoms that may later develop into this disorder. It seems that the risk for developing these symptoms increases if you are more prone to mental illnesses, as stated on Mental Heath Daily. However, with cannabis-induced psychosis, symptoms typically dissolve after a few days.
Other drugs have been said to induce symptoms of schizophrenia as well – cocaine, LSD (acid), amphetamines, salvia, various hallucinogens, some prescription medications, and more. Some studies have even shown alcohol to cause this effect. However, there are several factors that indicate whether someone will experience drug-induced psychosis:
- What drug is being taken
- How much of the drug has been taken
- Short term vs. long term usage of the drug
- Pre-existing mental illness
- Individual factors such as age, genetics, interaction with the drugs and other medications, sleep deprivation, and stress
- Whether or not the person has had a psychotic episode from drugs before
The drugs listed function by producing abnormally high levels of dopamine, the “feel good” chemical in the brain; when this happens, these elevated levels can create a dysfunction in the brain which can further lead to temporary psychotic breaks. Symptoms of this may involve a depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. Pre-psychosis symptoms are characterized by a drop-in performance, social withdrawal, bad hygiene and difficulty speaking.
Treatment for drug-induced psychosis typically involves antipsychotics, and those that experience psychosis from prolonged use of taking an antipsychotic may need to discontinue or change their medication. If you are experiencing any symptoms of concern, seek medical help immediately.
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