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What is Amphetamine Psychosis?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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Amphetamine psychosis is a condition often suffered by those who use amphetamines for a long period of time. In terms of appearance, experts say that the symptoms are almost identical to those seen in someone suffering from schizophrenia. Individuals with amphetamine psychosis often become exceedingly paranoid about the possible nefarious motives of those around them. They can also lose touch with reality, eventually suffering with hallucinations and untrue perceptions of events.

This disorder does not generally happen from a single use of amphetamines, although there are some unexplained exceptions. Generally, people have to use the drugs for months or years, and even then, they may not always develop psychosis. It’s also not usually a disorder that develops suddenly. People will tend to gradually develop problems as their drug habit worsens.

Sometimes, this condition can be difficult for doctors to recognize. It looks so much like schizophrenia that it’s relatively common for it to be misdiagnosed as such. There are also cases where this condition and schizophrenia are present in the same individual, and this is actually considered a relatively common occurrence. Experts think this similarity may be because amphetamine psychosis and schizophrenia work on the same general mechanism.

Many medical experts believe that schizophrenia is related to the brain chemical dopamine. Studies show that the dopamine function in the brain is also directly activated by stimulant drugs such as amphetamines. This fact has caused some experts to believe that people suffering with this condition are basically dealing with an artificially stimulated version of schizophrenia, which would generally mean that the two disorders are functionally identical.

One big difference between amphetamine psychosis and schizophrenia is the treatment process. For people dealing with amphetamine-induced psychotic symptoms, it’s usually possible to get rid of the symptoms completely, while schizophrenia is a lifelong problem. Recovery from this kind of psychosis may not always happen immediately after someone gives up a drug habit, but it will usually happen over time. While the person is recovering, he or she may need additional help, including possible therapy or anti-psychotic medications. Occasionally, more severe cases may require institutionalization or a stay in some kind of rehabilitation facility.

Amphetamines aren’t the only drugs known to cause the same psychotic disorder. Cocaine and most other heavy-duty stimulants have also been known to cause similar problems. There are also several other health problems associated with stimulant drugs, including strain on the heart.

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Discussion Comments

By anon340530 — On Jul 03, 2013

Four days have passed, with my first try ever. I took just three hits and yes, I do have a strong past of my brain doing/seeing weird stuff. I thought I'd just try it out. At the moment I'm still having trouble controlling my paranoia, which I haven't had for about six years.

By ZipLine — On Mar 27, 2013

So what kind of things do people experience when they have this? Is it mostly hallucinations? Does it cause irritation and anger?

By donasmrs — On Mar 26, 2013

@turkay1-- You didn't overdose on it right?

I've only seen amphetamine causing psychosis with short term use when the drug is abused. When it's used only at the recommended dose, it takes years for it to lead to psychosis.

I'm not a doctor but I also think that people with already existing paranoia are more prone to amphetamine psychosis.

By candyquilt — On Mar 25, 2013

I experienced symptoms of psychosis when I was on amphetamine. It only occurred once, when I went without sleep for a long time.

So I know from experience that short term use of amphetamine can cause psychosis as well but it's brief. Mine lasted around one day. When I got sleep and rested, I was feeling much better.

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