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What is Stimulant Psychosis?

Stimulants like amphetamine carry a high risk of many negative consequences to the brain and body. Perhaps the most frightening example of problems that can arise from stimulant use is that of amphetamine-induced psychosis. Amphetamine-induced psychosis can be extreme and mirror the symptoms of other mental health disorders such as schizophrenia.

Amphetamine and methamphetamine are drugs that increase wakefulness, focus, feelings of energy, and can produce euphoria. The adverse effects of amphetamines include anxiety, paranoia, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, insomnia, arrythmia, and aggression. However, the way that amphetamine affect the brain can also lead to symptoms of extreme psychosis.

According to a 2012 PMC Psychiatry article entitled Amphetamine-Induced Psychosis- a separate diagnostic entity or primary psychosis triggered in the vulnerable, “The symptoms of psychosis induced by amphetamines are very similar to those of acute schizophrenia spectrum psychosis and include: lack of concentration, delusions of persecution, increased motor activity, disorganization of thoughts, lack of insight, anxiety, suspicion and auditory hallucinations.” A variety of factors influence whether someone will develop amphetamine-induced psychosis, including neurochemistry, dosage, type of drug, stress level, sleep deprivation, and any other mental health problems.

According to Mental Health Daily, “Stimulant psychosis is a transitory psychiatric condition that occurs among some individuals who use and/or abuse psychostimulant medications or illicit stimulatory drugs.  It is most common among individuals who abuse their stimulant prescriptions or take abnormally high doses of an illicit drug such as cocaine or methamphetamines.  In fact, the most common drugs associated with inducing stimulant psychosis are: amphetamines and cocaine.” Other drugs that can produce amphetamine psychosis include cathinones, dextroamphetamine, DOM (STP), ephedrine, MDMA, MDPV, mephedrone, methamphetamine, methcathinone, Adderall, and Vyvanse. Studies show that nearly 20% of methamphetamine users experience stimulant psychosis.

The recovery rate from amphetamine-induced psychosis varies from person to person. Generally, it takes under 30 days to recover from psychosis, but may take longer for some. Mental Health Daily explains, “It should be noted that for some individuals, amphetamine abuse may elicit neurochemical changes as well as alter genetic expression, to create a state of permanent schizophrenia.  While a permanent drug-induced psychosis is rare, it has been documented.  It is believed to occur most frequently in those with a predetermined genetic susceptibility.” Continued use of amphetamines will both prolong and exacerbate one’s state of psychosis.

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