In the wake of the opioid epidemic, methamphetamine (meth) is experiencing an astounding comeback.
However, methamphetamine use comes with substantial risk and notorious side effects, such as tweaking. Another serious side effect of meth comes in the form of psychosis, or a complete break from reality. Labeled meth psychosis, this phenomenon is a reaction to meth use and can occur during the meth high or after the drug has worn off.
What Is Meth Psychosis?
Meth psychosis is a detachment from reality as a result of meth use. Considering that it occurs in an estimated 40 percent of those who use the drug, it is a very real risk of meth use. In addition, hearsay meth psychosis stories abound and include descriptions of people hallucinating or physically harming themselves in an attempt to scratch at things that are not actually there.
The most commonly documented meth hallucinations are auditory and visual. This means that when a meth user hallucinates, they are most likely to hear things that aren’t real (auditory) or see things that aren’t there (visual). For example, meth users often report seeing critters that resemble bugs on their skin, which leads to scratching and noticeable meth scabs.
Why Does Meth Cause Psychosis?
Stimulant-induced psychosis is a frequently observed side effect of heavy use. It occurs because methamphetamine and other stimulants affect the delicate balance of chemicals in the brain. While everyone will respond differently to meth use, it is the overproduction of dopamine caused by meth use that initiates psychosis. This excess in dopamine then causes too much glutamate to be released in the brain, another chemical that contributes to psychotic symptoms.
Methamphetamine psychosis heavily mimics schizophrenia, and it is often difficult for practitioners to differentiate between the two conditions. In fact, if drug-induced psychosis persists over time, the condition is often re-labeled schizophrenic disorder.
Meth Psychosis Symptoms
Signs of meth use may go unnoticed until the meth addiction is well established. Ultimately, any dramatic changes in routines or behavior may indicate drug use. This includes:
- Weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Failure to meet responsibilities
- Unusual sleep patterns
- Dental problems
- Body sores or scabs
- Extreme talkativeness
- Rapid eye movement
- Repetitive behaviors
Heavy meth use or meth binges will produce behavior known as tweaking, which could also be a presentation of meth psychosis. Meth binges often occur when a user is chasing the original meth high, where they may stay awake for days consuming the drug.
Symptoms of psychosis usually occur during meth use or meth withdrawal. Meth psychosis symptoms include:
- Delusions (beliefs not based on reality)
- Compulsive skin scratching
- Aggression, violence, and paranoia
- Intense hyperactivity
Aggression and violence are particularly concerning side effects of meth use. If these characteristics of meth psychosis are noticed, it may be better to avoid confrontation with the individual at this time.
How Long Does Meth Psychosis Last?
The duration of meth psychosis varies widely between users. Originally it was thought that meth-induced psychosis would alleviate in about a week to a month. However, ongoing or permanent psychosis is so prevalent among meth users that practitioners believe that meth causes a detachment from reality due to irreparable brain damage.
Regardless of the duration, the first step for anyone experiencing meth psychosis symptoms is to be evaluated by a professional.
Treatment for Meth-Induced Psychosis
Recovery from meth psychosis is possible and starts with quitting meth. It is highly recommended to enroll in a meth detox program at an addiction treatment facility where you can detox from meth safely before beginning therapy to address meth addiction. During detox, medications can be provided to assist with discomfort and lessen any psychotic symptoms.
Other typical meth withdrawal symptoms include:
- Meth cravings
Unfortunately, meth psychosis will not always resolve by quitting meth alone. Evaluation at an accredited addiction treatment center will assist you or your loved ones in the next step towards recovery from meth psychosis.
Finding Help for Meth Addiction in Las Vegas, Nevada
The programs at the Vance Johnson Recovery Center are evidence-based and holistic in nature, meaning that each person and their individual circumstances are taken into consideration when developing a treatment plan for methamphetamine recovery. Additionally, our inpatient and residential programs provide a comfortable, therapeutic setting that supports growth.
A few of the treatment therapies available at the Vance Johnson Recovery Center include:
- Individual and group therapy
- Complementary therapies (i.e., yoga and recreational therapy)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Motivational interviewing (MI)
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Trauma-informed care
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Clinical hypnotherapy
- 12-step recovery groups
At VJRC, we will support you throughout a continuum of care that extends to before, during, and after treatment. Deciding to commit to meth rehab is a huge first step in recovery. To get started, contact an admissions specialist at 888-828-2623 or use our confidential online contact form.
You CAN take your life back from methamphetamine abuse. And the Vance Johnson Recovery Center is ready to help.
Located in dynamic Las Vegas, Nevada, the Vance Johnson Recovery Center (VJRC) a 44-bed facility is run by a skilled multi-disciplinary team of medical and behavioral health professionals that includes nurses, counselors, and doctors, along with complementary and alternative medicine specialists to provide our clients with a transformational experience that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Our approach is holistic and grounded in research and evidenced-based best practices that help people develop the awareness and skills required to achieve and sustain recovery.