According to the American Psychiatric Association, a psychosis happens when both hallucinations and delusions are present. A lot of people who abuse substances have underlying mental health conditions, which is known as a dual diagnosis. It is possible to have a meth-induced psychosis, but this must be determined by a urine drug screen, a physical exam, studying of medical history and “reality testing”. It can be very difficult to determine whether someone is having a schizophrenic psychosis or a meth induced psychosis. Someone who is psychotic does not have the ability to tell you their history. This is why it is so important to work together with their significant others.
Meth Induced Psychosis
Meth users have their own terminology. Within their culture, someone who is “spun” is someone who has had a meth overdose, which induced a psychotic state. It is very important that these people are immediately assessed. As a psychosis involves both hallucinations and delusions, these should both be looked into.
Hallucinations can be associated with each of the five senses. Hence, our staff at Creative Care will look for:
- Auditory hallucinations. Here, the users will hear sounds that aren’t there. In most cases, the sounds are voices that command them to do things, usually negative and dangerous things.
- Visual hallucinations. The user will see things (inanimate or living) that aren’t actually there.
- Olfactory hallucinations. Some meth users report smelling things, which are often very unpleasant. One common olfactory hallucination during a psychosis caused by meth is smelling the brain rot.
- Tactile hallucinations. This happens when people feel something that isn’t there, usually underneath the skin. With meth psychosis, formication is particularly common. This is where the user believes there are bugs under their skin. As a result, they start to scratch their skin to try and remove them. Many meth users have scars on their arms because they experienced “crank bugs”.
- Gustatory hallucinations. This is the false perception of taste. Many meth users become paranoid and believe their food has been poisoned, which they can taste. However, this is also common on paranoid schizophrenia.
It is very difficult to determine whether a psychosis is the result of meth abuse, meth addiction or of schizophrenia, not in the least because many schizophrenics use meth. However, MacKenzie and Heischober have determined that schizophrenics have mainly auditory hallucinations, whereas meth users suffer from visual and tactile hallucinations. Furthermore, psychotic disorders induced by meth tend to not include alogia, which is an inability to speak.
The other determining factor in whether or not someone is going through a psychosis is the presence of delusions. These are false personal beliefs that cannot be corrected simply by reasoning with the person. A number of delusions are common in meth-induced psychosis, including:
- Persecution, which is a fear of being harmed. This is also present in paranoid schizophrenics.
- Grandeur, which means that the user feels as if they are somehow special above all other people.
- Reference, which means that important events actually have a direct relation to them, such as secret messages in news bulletins.
- Control, believing that they are being brainwashed for instance.
- Somatic, which happens when the patient believes their body is being changed and their brain is rotting for example.
Other Key Traits in Meth Induced Psychosis
Most people who experience a psychosis will also have extreme paranoia. This makes it incredibly difficult to treat them, as they will believe medical staff is there to harm them, rather than help them. Furthermore, they also regularly have compulsions and obsessions. Some of these compulsions include washing hands, pulling hair, formication and compulsive sexual behavior.
Treating Meth Psychosis
The drug of choice to treat people going through a methamphetamine psychosis is Haldol, but it is important to be very careful with this. Haldol has a number of dangerous and unpleasant side effects, including anticholinergic manifestations, stomach problems, skin issues, extrapyramidal symptoms, neuroleptic malignant syndrome and tardive dyskinesia for instance.
If you are worried about someone who may have entered a methamphetamine induced psychosis, you must seek meth treatment help immediately. Please contact Creative Care to see how we can help and whether Haldol may be an appropriate form of treatment.