Addiction Drug Use What Is Substance/Medication-Induced Psychotic Disorder? Diagnostic Criteria, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 16, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Nenov / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Is Substance/Medication-Induced Psychotic Disorder? Symptoms Diagnosis Causes Treatment Coping What Is Substance/Medication-Induced Psychotic Disorder? Substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder, also known as toxic psychosis, alcohol-induced psychosis, and drug-induced psychosis, is the diagnostic name for a specific mental health condition where an individual experiences hallucinations, delusions, or both within a month of using or withdrawing from prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and/or alcohol. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), 7% to 25% of patients treated for their first psychotic episode are reported to have substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder, know that there are many treatment options and resources available to support you. Symptoms Symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder include experiencing delusions, hallucinations, or both. Individuals experiencing these symptoms may or may not have insight into whether their delusions and/or hallucinations are real. Delusions Delusions are thoughts and beliefs that are not based in reality. Types of delusions include: Persecutory: Thoughts that others, including organizations, are out to get you or are surveilling you Grandiose: Belief that you are exceptional, special, gifted, and better than others Referential: Belief that individuals and environmental signals have hidden meanings meant to communicate with you Erotomanic: Belief that someone or multiple people are in love with you despite contrary evidence Nihilistic: Thoughts that a disaster will take place Somatic: Belief that something is wrong with your body For example, a persecutory delusion may be "my former company is monitoring my every move and is out to get me." An example of an erotomanic delusion may be "Tom Hanks is madly in love with me." Better Understanding Delusional Thinking Hallucinations If you have a hallucination, you are experiencing something with one or multiple senses that isn't based in reality. If an individual has substance/medication-induced psychosis and their hallucinations are due to drugs and/or alcohol, this symptom does not count toward their diagnostic criteria. Types of hallucinations include: Auditory: Hearing voices or sounds that aren't really presentVisual: Seeing things that aren't really thereOlfactory: Smelling scents that no one else canTactile: Feeling like you're being touched when no one or nothing is on youGustatory: Tasting something when there's nothing in your mouth For example, with an auditory hallucination, an individual may hear a voice telling them to run away or that they are being followed. With a visual hallucination, an individual may see someone following them who isn't really there. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others, contact 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. What a Hallucination Feels Like How Long Does It Last? An individual's medical history, when a particular substance was ingested, and how much was ingested can all impact how long symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychosis may persist. While symptoms may decrease and stop shortly after a substance has been eliminated from the body, other substances may cause symptoms that last for weeks. Individuals taking certain pain medications may experience substance/medication-induced psychosis symptoms that may take up to a week to resolve. Individuals taking amphetamines, such as methamphetamine, may experience symptoms that persist for weeks. It's important to note that amphetamine use in some patients is also linked to schizophrenia (more persistent symptoms of psychosis). In a study of individuals with cannabis or stimulant use disorder, 46% of individuals who were diagnosed with substance-induced psychosis later developed schizophrenia. Those with cannabis-use disorder were more vulnerable to developing long-term symptoms. About half of the other individuals in the study only experienced symptoms for a brief period. Diagnosis For the diagnosis of substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder to be made, symptoms must have a significant impact on your quality of life. While it can be difficult to differentiate substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder from schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, there are some key factors to note. With substance/medication-induced psychosis: Symptoms begin within a month of using or withdrawing from drugs, alcohol, or both. There are no psychosis-related symptoms noted prior to the substance use or withdrawal. Symptoms typically last for under a month. Symptoms usually diminish after withdrawal. Individuals typically don't experience disorganized speech or behavior, or reduced emotional expression, which are common symptoms in schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. Onset During Intoxication Symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder can begin almost immediately after ingesting certain substances. When diagnosing an individual, the treating physician or mental health professional will determine if the symptoms began while the substance was still present in the individual's system. Such a case is known as an onset during intoxication. Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder Onset During Withdrawal Symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder can also occur during withdrawal. Your treating clinician will monitor how long your symptoms persist to ensure that other mental health disorders don't need to be ruled out. If symptoms last longer than a month and the substance has cleared your body, they may collect more information to see if another mental health disorder, such as substance-induced mood disorder, better fits your symptom experience. Causes There is a high incidence of having a co-occurring mental health disorder alongside a diagnosis of substance use disorder. While substances alone do not directly cause substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder, someone who is at a greater risk for psychosis can be triggered by certain substances. In a longitudinal study of individuals who presented with substance-induced psychotic disorder due to cannabis, opiates, stimulants, or multiple drugs, risk factors included: Being maleBeing 30 years old or youngerHaving an underlying mental health condition These individuals weren't only at risk for substance-induced psychotic disorder, but were also more prone to developing schizophrenia within the next few years. Psychoactive Substances A wide variety of psychoactive substances can trigger substance-induced psychotic disorder including: Alcohol Cannabis Phencyclidine (PCP) Hallucinogens Inhalants Sedatives Hypnotics Amphetamines Stimulants Medications Medications that may trigger substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder include: Analgesics Anticholinergics Antiepileptics Antidepressants Antiparkinsonian medication Steroids Muscle relaxants Disulfiram Treatment Treatment for substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder will vary depending on the specific patient and their unique needs. In many cases, stopping the triggering substance and closely monitoring the patient in a safe environment may be enough. However, different substances, such as alcohol, may require more intensive treatment. While it's critical to remove the substance from the individual's system (acute), it's equally important to treat any underlying mental health conditions (long-term). In some cases, combining acute and long-term care may prevent the individual from experiencing substance/medication-induced psychosis in the future. Medication Medications may be used to help reduce symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychosis and stabilize the individual's mood. Medications that may be used include: Benzodiazepines Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Antipsychotics Psychotherapy Long-term, it's important to treat any underlying mental health conditions to reduce the chances of experiencing substance/medication-induced psychosis again. Treatment options may include: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) Inpatient rehabilitation for drug and/or alcohol use Outpatient rehabilitation for drug and/or alcohol use Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) Group therapy Alcohol-Induced Psychotic Disorder Considerations Withdrawing from alcohol may require more monitoring compared to other substances and medications. In serious cases, which can be fatal, the individual may experience delirium tremens (DTs), symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis, and bodily function failure. Treatment options and care may include: Tests and monitoring as you withdraw at the hospital Stabilizing vitals, replenishing electrolytes and vitamins, and testing for liver disease Sedation using antipsychotics or benzodiazepines, if needed Suicide evaluation and monitoring Once withdrawal is complete and the patient is stabilized, beginning inpatient or outpatient treatment can be incredibly helpful. Support groups may also be beneficial in addition to psychotherapy. Coping If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of substance/medication-induced psychosis, it's important to prioritize self-care. In addition to seeking professional care, you may also: Begin practicing mindfulness to help reduce stress Engage in breathing exercises to ground yourself Look for signs of caregiver fatigue and take time for yourself to decompress Connect with trusted loved ones about what you are experiencing Read helpful literature about substance/medication-induced psychosis A Word From Verywell Although it can feel incredibly frightening to experience symptoms of psychosis, keep in mind that they may be directly related to a substance or medication, which can be addressed. 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J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):VE01-VE07. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/13407.6538 By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.