What Is Substance/Medication-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Substance or medication-induced psychotic disorder is a diagnosis for any drug or alcohol induced psychosis that should be treated effectively. Basically, it’s a serious mental disorder when people lose their contact with the reality, either to a lesser or greater extent. Psychosis is often associated with such mental conditions as schizophrenia. Medication-induced psychosis has two basic symptoms:

• Hallucinations;

• Delusions.


People with this condition both may and may not have an insight into whether their delusions and hallucinations are real. Other symptoms can be involved, but they aren’t required to diagnose:

• Negative symptoms, such as absence of normal psychological experiences;

• Abnormal psychomotor behaviors.

This means that patients are emotionally flat and lack emotional expressions. When doctors give this diagnosis, they check everything to ensure that psychosis wasn’t caused by the use of alcohol. That’s because psychotic disorders can be different, so if symptoms were present before any substance use, patients don’t have substance or medication induced psychosis. Sometimes, people with a past history of primary psychotic disorders are still diagnosed with this condition if their symptoms are better accounted for by the use of specific substances.

If psychotic symptoms persist for quite a while (1 month or longer), people stop using intoxicating meds, or if they have a past history of recurrent psychotic disorders, their diagnosis will be different.

How Long Does It Take for Drugs to Induce Psychosis?

In some cases, it happens almost instantly, so there’s even a special category, which means that psychotic episodes start when people are high on their drugs. It can happen during their withdrawal. Substance-induced psychosis is different from any disturbances of consciousness that happen during delirium episodes that can be medication-induced too.

To give a diagnosis of this condition, there must be a significant impact of psychotic symptoms on patients’ lives. For example, they may cause a lot of distress or impair different life aspects, including work and social life.

Drugs That Can Cause Psychosis

Nowadays, there are many types of psychoactive substances that may cause substance or medication induced psychotic disorder, such as:

• Cannabis and alcohol;

• Phencylidine and other hallucinogens;

• Sedatives and inhalants;

• Anxiolytics and hypnotics;

• Amphetamine and other stimulants;

• Cocaine and other substances.

Besides, there are some medications that are known to result in substance or medication induced psychotic disorder, including:

• Analgesics and anesthetics;

• Anticonvulsants and anticholinergics;

• Antihypertensive meds and antihistamines;

• Antimicrobial and cardiovascular drugs;

• Corticosteroids and chemotherapeutic agents;

• Antiparkinsonian and gastrointestinal meds;

• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants;

• Over-the-counter medications, such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine;

• Disulfiram and antidepressants.

In addition, there are different toxins that are reported to induce specific psychotic disorders, including sarin and other nerve gases, anticholinesterase, carbon monoxide, organoposphate insecticides, carbon dioxide and such volatile and dangerous substances as paints and fuels.

As you can see, there are many substances and medications that can cause this type of psychosis. That’s why all patients need to use their common sense before using any of them, even if their medications aren’t mentioned above. Before you start taking any new drug or substance, be sure to talk to your doctors to find out more about their safety, possible health risks and dangerous drug interactions. This way, you will avoid substance or medication induced psychotic disorder.