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Can Substance Abuse Cause Delusions?

Can Substance Abuse Cause Delusions?

Substance abuse can distort your perception of reality

Psychoactive drugs can temporarily or permanently change the structure and function of the brain, often by causing or exacerbating mental health problems. Drug-induced psychosis means an individual exhibits symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, paranoia and disorganized thinking, all of which are directly related to substance abuse.

People that suffer from delusions cannot distinguish reality from imagined circumstances. A delusion is a firm belief in something that is not true, and it results in a tendency to misinterpret events in such a way as to support the delusion. Substances that can cause delusions include cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, opioids and hallucinogens.

What Forms Can Delusions Take?

Delusions can be incorrect perceptions or imaginary circumstances that people project onto real events. They are often mistaken for hallucinations, but hallucinations are actually auditory and visual illusions, whereas delusions are beliefs or attitudes built on a false sense of reality. Delusions and hallucinations often occur together, because hallucinations can cause people to develop deluded views, and delusions can cause people to hallucinate events that back up their false beliefs.

The most obvious signs of delusion disorders are non-bizarre delusions, which can occur in real life, as when drug users believe they are the targets of murder plots or the objects of people’s affection. Delusional individuals either imagine or exaggerate these circumstances. Bizarre delusions may also occur, but they are less common than non-bizarre delusions. Many types of delusions deal with paranoia: psychoactive drug users that experience psychosis may begin to believe that people are conspiring against them, or that they are experiencing medical problems or defects.

Is Substance-Induced Delusional Disorder Permanent?

These delusions skew a person’s ability to comprehend and respond correctly to what is going on. Sometimes this inability to perceive reality lasts only as long as the high lasts, but sometimes the delusions last as long as someone abuses the drug that caused psychotic symptoms. But, sometimes persistent, long-term drug abuse can cause permanent psychotic problems.

When a drug user has a mental illness before developing substance-induced delusions, it can be difficult for treatment professionals to distinguish the symptoms that are exclusive to substance abuse. However, substance-induced delusions should cease upon discontinuing drug abuse. If the condition is unrelated to drugs and it predates or led to the substance abuse, then the symptoms will persist after treatment.

Help for Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to a psychoactive substance, then call our toll-free helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about your professional treatment options. We are available 24 hours a day to connect you with treatment programs that will foster both physical and psychological recovery. Don’t wait, and call today for instant support.