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Substance Use and Psychosis - www.psychosissucks.ca

Substance Use and Psychosis - www.psychosissucks.ca

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Published by PRMurphy
The use of street drugs or the excessive use of alcohol is harmful to the physical and mental health of all people; however, the risks associated with drug use are even greater for people who have experienced psychosis.
The use of street drugs or the excessive use of alcohol is harmful to the physical and mental health of all people; however, the risks associated with drug use are even greater for people who have experienced psychosis.

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Published by: PRMurphy on Feb 21, 2011
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Substance Use and Psychosis
http://www.psychosissucks.ca/epi/substanceuseandpsych.cf mThe use of street drugs or the excessive use of alcohol is harmful to the physical andmental health of all people; however, the risks associated with drug use are evengreater for people who have experienced psychosis.
Psychosis-inducing drugs
Psychosis can be induced by drugs or can be "drug assisted". Some stimulating drugs,like amphetamines, can cause psychosis, while other drugs, including marijuana, can
trigger the onset of psychosis in someone who is already at increased risk because theyhave "vulnerability".It is also believed that some drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine can cause acondition known as a drug-induced psychosis. This psychosis can last up to a few days,and is often characterized by hallucinations, delusions, memory loss and confusion. Thisusually results from prolonged or heavy street-drug use; and it responds well totreatment.
Impact of drug use after psychosis has begun
The risks associated with drug use for a person with psychosis include an increased risk of relapse, the development of more secondary problems (including depression, anxietyor memory problems), a slower recovery and more persistent psychotic symptoms.Certain drugs, and alcohol, may be harmful because they interact dangerously withpsychosis medications. Although alcohol in small quantities is usually okay while takingmost medications, there are certain medications that must not be combined withalcohol. A doctor can advise about this.Being honest about drug and alcohol use is essential for recovery from psychosis, evenif there is no immediate desire to change usage. Drug use can have negativeinteractions with treatment, therefore, those on the treatment team need to know thedetails of the drug use so that they can provide the safest and most effective treatmentrecommendations.
Evaluating if there's a substance use problem
The individual must come to the conclusion, him or herself, that there is a substanceuse problem.Questions such as the ones below may help the person evaluate their drug usesituation. It is best to do this exercise with a mental health professional who can bethere to increase objectivity and base the answers on accurate information.
1. What do you think are the immediate and long-term negative effects of yourdrug use?2. How do these negative effects compare to the desired effects you experience?3. Can you see any advantages to reducing your current drug use?
Crystal Meth
Crystal methamphetamine (“crystal meth”, “jib”, “ice”, “chalk”, “fire”) is a street drugthat has increased significantly in popularity throughout British Columbia over the pastseveral years, especially in youth and young adults. It is cheap and easy to find, as itcan be made in simple home laboratories (although often what is sold on the streets ascrystal meth is not pure methamphetamine but a mix of drugs).“Crystal meth” is a potent stimulant. It creates a tremendous rush, or powerful feeling,and increases energy and activity. There is also an increased sexual drive, which canresult in prolonged sex and an increased risk of HIV. “Crystal meth” can be smoked,ingested, snorted, or injected. It can also have other effects like agitation, paranoia,confusion and violence. Grinding of teeth and obsessive picking at one’s body arephysical signs of use. These acute effects can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.Withdrawal effects include anxiety and depression, and feeling “sketchy”.The more a person uses ‘crystal meth’, the more they crave it, making it very difficult toquit. Continued use can result in rapid weight loss and malnourishment. Longer-termuse of “crystal meth” can have a serious impact on the brain’s ability to processinformation, and can even result in structural changes to the brain. It can also lead tothe development of a psychotic condition that is difficult to treat.It is estimated that 10-20% of “crystal meth” abusers develop psychosis. Typicalsymptoms include paranoia and auditory hallucinations, which cannot be distinguishedfrom other psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The onset of psychosis often occurs gradually with continued use but can sometimes occur suddenlyeven in very little use. Using ‘crystal meth’ can trigger the psychosis, but that doesn’tnecessarily mean that the psychosis will end when the drug use stops. The psychosismay continue on even after quitting.
Hints to reducing use or risk of harm
Reducing drug use is not simply a matter of willpower. Effectively reducing drug userequires setting goals and solving problems.It is the desired effects that give a person the urge to continue use. Most people findthat these urges are triggered by certain feelings (such as stress, boredom, depressionor anxiety) or situations (such as being with friends who use regularly or being at aparty where it is encouraged). By recognizing and anticipating what feelings or

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