What Is Meth-Induced Psychosis?

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Methamphetamine-induced psychosis, also known as meth psychosis, is a severe mental health condition that can occur in individuals who abuse methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug that can affect the central nervous system, leading to various physical and psychological effects.

Various symptoms, including delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking, characterize meth-induced psychosis. These symptoms can be very similar to those seen in schizophrenia and very distressing for the individual experiencing them.

Meth-induced psychosis can occur after a single use of the drug. Still, it is more commonly seen in individuals who have been using methamphetamine for an extended period, and the symptoms can persist even after the individual stops using the drug.

Treatment for meth-induced psychosis typically involves a combination of medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, and therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to address the underlying mental health condition and help the individual recover. It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of meth-induced psychosis.

If you or someone you love has a substance use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and individualized medically monitored detox program. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.

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How Does Meth-Induced Psychosis Occur?

The exact causes of meth-induced psychosis are not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the effects of methamphetamine on the brain.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that increases dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain. With repeated use, the brain’s dopamine system can become dysregulated, leading to brain function and structure changes. These changes can result in psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations.

Additionally, methamphetamine use can cause sleep deprivation and malnutrition, exacerbating or contributing to psychosis. Chronic drug use can also cause other physical and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, paranoia, and aggression, which can further contribute to the development of psychosis.

It is important to note that not everyone who uses methamphetamine will develop psychosis. The likelihood of developing psychosis can depend on various factors, such as the frequency and duration of use, genetic factors, and underlying mental health conditions.

Long-Term Meth Use & the Brain

Long-term methamphetamine use can have significant and long-lasting effects on the brain. Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant drug that can lead to changes in brain structure and function and various physical and psychological effects.

Here are some of the ways that long-term methamphetamine use can affect the brain:

  • Changes in Brain Structure – Long-term methamphetamine use can cause changes in the brain’s structure, particularly in areas associated with memory, emotion, and decision-making. These changes can lead to problems with learning and memory, impaired judgment, and emotional regulation difficulties.
  • Decreased Dopamine Receptor Function – Methamphetamine use can reduce the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, decreasing the brain’s ability to experience pleasure and an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders.
  • Increased Risk of Psychosis – Long-term methamphetamine use can increase the risk of developing meth-induced psychosis, characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • Increased Risk of Stroke – Methamphetamine use can increase the risk of stroke by causing constriction of blood vessels and increased blood pressure.
  • Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease – Long-term methamphetamine use has been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination.
  • Impaired Decision-Making – Methamphetamine use can impair decision-making abilities and lead to risky behaviors, such as unsafe sex and drug use, increasing the risk of contracting HIV and other infections.

Risk Factors for Developing Psychosis From Meth Use

Methamphetamine use can increase the risk of developing psychosis, which is a severe mental health condition characterized by symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. Here are some of the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing psychosis from meth use:

  • Frequency and Duration of Use – The more frequently and longer someone uses methamphetamine, the greater their risk of developing psychosis.
  • Method of Use –Smoking or injecting methamphetamine can increase the risk of developing psychosis compared to other forms of use, such as swallowing or snorting.
  • Dose – Higher doses of methamphetamine can increase the risk of developing psychosis compared to lower doses.
  • Age of First Use – Individuals who start using methamphetamine at a younger age may be at a higher risk of developing psychosis than those who use it later in life.
  • Underlying Mental Health Conditions – Individuals with a history of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia, may be more vulnerable to developing psychosis from methamphetamine use.
  • Genetics – Certain genetic factors may increase the likelihood of developing psychosis from methamphetamine use.
  • Other Substance Use – Methamphetamine use can increase the risk of developing psychosis when combined with other substances, such as alcohol or cannabis.

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Psychiatric Symptoms, Effects, & Disorders

Methamphetamine use can lead to various psychiatric symptoms, effects, and disorders. These can include psychosis, anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, mood swings, paranoia, addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and the exacerbation or triggering of other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

While not everyone who uses methamphetamine will experience these symptoms or develop a mental health disorder, chronic and prolonged methamphetamine use increases the risk of developing these conditions. Seeking professional help and support is critical in managing these symptoms and addressing potential mental health concerns.

Paranoia

Paranoia is a common symptom of methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine can increase dopamine levels in the brain, leading to euphoria and increased energy. However, high dopamine levels can also lead to paranoia, extreme mistrust, and suspicion.

Paranoia can manifest in various ways for someone using methamphetamine, including believing that others are watching or following them, feeling threatened by others, or experiencing delusions of persecution. These beliefs can be persistent and irrational, leading to significant distress and impairment in social and occupational functioning.

Chronic and prolonged methamphetamine use can increase the risk of developing paranoia, becoming a long-term symptom even after someone stops using the drug.

Hallucinations

Methamphetamine use can cause hallucinations, which are experiences of sensory perceptions that are not based on reality. Hallucinations can affect any of the senses, including sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Methamphetamine-induced hallucinations can be both visual and auditory.

Visual hallucinations can involve seeing things that aren’t there, such as shadows, colors, or objects. For example, someone using methamphetamine may see insects crawling on their skin even though no insects are present.

Auditory hallucinations can involve hearing voices or sounds that aren’t there. These voices can be critical or threatening, leading to significant distress and paranoia.

Methamphetamine-induced hallucinations can be acute or chronic, and the severity and duration of the hallucinations can depend on various factors, including the dose, frequency, and duration of use.

Delusions

Methamphetamine use can cause delusions, which are false beliefs that persist despite evidence to the contrary. Delusions can be fixed, meaning the person strongly believes in them and cannot be swayed by evidence or logical argument.

Methamphetamine-induced delusions can involve various themes, such as delusions of grandeur (believing that one has special powers or abilities), delusions of persecution (believing that others are plotting against them), or delusions of reference (believing that everyday events or objects have personal significance).

Other symptoms, such as paranoia, hallucinations, or disordered thinking, can accompany delusions.

Emotional & Behavioral Mood Changes

Methamphetamine use can lead to emotional and behavioral mood changes. The drug can produce feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and confidence. However, these effects can also be accompanied by negative mood changes, including irritability, agitation, anxiety, and aggression.

Methamphetamine use can also cause mood swings, with sudden and extreme changes in emotion, such as feeling happy and then angry or sad the next.

Chronic and prolonged methamphetamine use can lead to more persistent mood changes, including depression, apathy, and anhedonia (loss of pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable). These symptoms can be severe and long-lasting, even after someone stops using the drug.

Additionally, methamphetamine use can lead to changes in behavior, such as impulsivity, risk-taking, and poor judgment. These behaviors can increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and legal problems.

Anxiety

Methamphetamine use can cause anxiety, fear, or apprehension about future events or situations. Methamphetamine-induced stress can manifest as excessive worrying, nervousness, and restlessness.

Chronic and prolonged methamphetamine use can increase the risk of developing anxiety, becoming a long-term symptom even after someone stops using the drug. Methamphetamine-induced anxiety can be severe and long-lasting and significantly impair social and occupational functioning.

In addition, methamphetamine use can also exacerbate pre-existing anxiety disorders or trigger new anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions that coexist with substance abuse disorders, such as methamphetamine use disorder. People who use methamphetamine may be at a higher risk of developing co-occurring disorders because the drug can worsen pre-existing mental health conditions or trigger new ones.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders Associated With Methamphetamine Use:

  • Depression – Methamphetamine use can cause feelings of depression and hopelessness. Chronic and prolonged use can lead to persistent depressive symptoms, even after someone stops using the drug.
  • Anxiety Disorders – Methamphetamine use can exacerbate pre-existing anxiety disorders or trigger new anxiety disorders, such as panic or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Bipolar Disorder – Methamphetamine use can trigger manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder or worsen symptoms of mania and depression.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — Methamphetamine use can exacerbate symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hyperarousal.
  • Personality Disorders – Methamphetamine use can worsen symptoms of personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder.

How Long Do Psychosis Symptoms & Effects Last?

The duration of psychosis symptoms and effects from methamphetamine use can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s history of methamphetamine use, the severity of their use, and whether they have any pre-existing mental health conditions.

In general, psychosis symptoms and effects from methamphetamine use can last for days to weeks, with some symptoms persisting for months or even years after someone stops using the drug. Chronic and prolonged methamphetamine use can increase the risk of developing persistent psychotic symptoms, even after someone stops using the drug.

The severity of psychosis symptoms and effects can also vary, ranging from mild symptoms, such as paranoia and hallucinations, to more severe symptoms, such as delusions and disordered thinking. The duration of symptoms and effects may be shorter in cases of mild symptoms, while more severe symptoms may require longer-term treatment and support.

Treatment Options for Meth-Induced Psychosis

Guardian Recovery offers a range of evidence-based treatment options for meth-induced psychosis tailored to each individual’s unique needs and circumstances. These may include:

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment – Medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of meth-induced psychosis, such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. These medications can help manage symptoms and stabilize mood, allowing individuals to engage more effectively in therapy.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to their psychosis symptoms. CBT can be an effective treatment option for meth-induced psychosis, helping individuals to develop coping strategies and reduce the risk of relapse.
  • Individual Therapy – Individual therapy sessions provide a safe and confidential environment for individuals to explore their experiences with meth-induced psychosis and work through any emotional or psychological challenges.
  • Group Therapy – Group therapy sessions provide opportunities for individuals to connect with others going through similar experiences, share experiences and coping strategies, and build supportive relationships.
  • Family Therapy – Family therapy sessions can be helpful for individuals who have experienced meth-induced psychosis, allowing family members to learn more about the condition and develop skills to support their loved ones.
  • Holistic Therapies – Guardian Recovery also offers a range of holistic therapies, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and acupuncture, which can help to reduce stress and promote overall health and well-being.

Treatment for meth-induced psychosis can be challenging, but individuals can recover and lead fulfilling lives with the proper support and resources.  Guardian Recovery is committed to providing compassionate, evidence-based care to help individuals overcome the challenges of methamphetamine addiction and psychosis.

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At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of meth detox that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While prioritizing a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine the most appropriate level of care for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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