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Stimulant Psychosis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Psychosis is often defined as a loss of contact with reality and is generally considered a common symptom of severe mental illness like schizophrenia.  Individuals experiencing psychosis may end up dealing with hallucinations (auditory and/or visual), delusions (beliefs with no basis in reality), and an array of other symptoms.  While schizophrenia is generally a root cause of psychosis, sometimes psychosis can be induced by stimulant medications.

With an increasing number of individuals being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), the number of prescription stimulants being doled out is on the rise.  Those that use stimulants generally experience increased psychomotor activity, heightened energy, and improved cognitive function.  That said, some individuals have certain genetics and neurochemistry that predispose them to a condition known as “stimulant psychosis.”

What is stimulant psychosis?

Stimulant psychosis is a transitory psychiatric condition that occurs among some individuals who use and/or abuse psychostimulant medications or illicit stimulatory drugs.  It is most common among individuals who abuse their stimulant prescriptions or take abnormally high doses of an illicit drug such as cocaine or methamphetamines.  In fact, the most common drugs associated with inducing stimulant psychosis are: amphetamines and cocaine.

Causes of stimulant psychosis

The most obvious cause of stimulant psychosis is using a potent stimulant, particularly at a high dose.  While stimulant psychosis is most often associated with using street drugs like cocaine, and amphetamines like Adderall, even high doses of caffeine could trigger this condition.  What causes one person to experience stimulant psychosis and another to remain psychologically unscathed after ingesting the same dosage of the same drug?

Factors that influence stimulant psychosis

There are many factors that may trigger the induction of stimulant psychosis.  These factors include: individual neurochemistry and genetics, the specific drug ingested, the dosage of the drug, a person’s stress level, whether they are sleep deprived, as well as whether they have an underlying mental illness.

1.  Neurochemistry

It is important to consider a person’s individual neurochemistry and genetics as influential factors in cases of stimulant psychosis.  Those with abnormal dopamine signaling may be associated with many of the positive symptoms of stimulant psychosis. Although drugs are the underlying cause, a person may be more susceptible than another with dopaminergic abnormalities such as levels in certain parts of the brain and receptor density.

It is also likely that certain genetic abnormalities may influence stimulant psychosis.  Genetic expression may dictate neurotransmitter concentrations and brain activity.  Ingesting a certain psychostimulant may interact with the expression of these genes, thus inducing a state of psychosis.  It is important to realize that dopamine is not the only neurotransmitter involved in stimulant psychosis – a multitude of other chemicals are speculated to play a role.

2.  Dosage

The dosage of any drug will dictate the effect and side effects that a person experiences.  Generally the greater the effect from the drug (as a result of increasing the dose), the more significant the side effect.  A majority of people experiencing stimulant psychosis take a dose of a particular stimulant that is too high for their own good.

They overwhelm the nervous system, and their brain cannot function with abnormally high dopamine.  While it is still possible to experience stimulant psychosis while taking therapeutic doses of a prescription, these “therapeutic doses” are likely to be on the high side and/or administered to a medication-sensitive individual.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15764424

3.  Drug(s) + Duration

The Drug: Certain drugs are inherently more potent than others.  A small amount of methamphetamine is likely going to induce psychosis more than a small amount of caffeine.  Both methamphetamine and caffeine can cause stimulant psychosis, but clearly the methamphetamine is more likely to cause psychosis.

Keep in mind that the greater the potency of the stimulant you take, the greater the likelihood that you’ll experience stimulant psychosis.  It is also important to realize that combining multiple stimulants may result in a synergistic effect – making the combined effect of the stimulants more powerful than each drug individually.

Duration: It is important to consider that the duration over which a person has taken a stimulatory drug can result in stimulant psychosis.  Those that take stimulants for long periods of time may produce psychotic symptoms characterized by hallucinations and delusions.  For these individuals it is important to distinguish the fact that continuously taking the stimulant over a long-term was the cause of a transitory psychosis.

Understand that when taken over a long-term, individuals generally increase the dosage (due to tolerance).  Taking high doses is known to trigger psychotic symptoms.

4.  Stress level

Those that are highly stressed may be more prone than average to stimulant psychosis.  This is due to the fact that stress floods the nervous system with cortisol, epinephrine, and other stimulatory chemicals to increase arousal.  When stress is high, throwing a stimulant on top of the stress hormones is like dumping gasoline on a roaring fire.  This may shock the nervous system, and a person may unexpectedly experience stimulant psychosis.

5.  Sleep deprivation

Those that abuse stimulants often go days without proper sleep.  A person’s brain functioning takes a major toll when forced to stay awake for a long-term with no rest.  Concentrations of neurotransmitters increase after one night of no sleep, particularly dopamine.  While receptor concentrations are downregulated, throwing copious doses of stimulants at a person with sleep deprivation is a recipe for stimulant induced psychosis.

6.  Mental illness

Most obviously is the fact that if someone has an underlying mental illness, stimulant drugs may be more likely to trigger psychosis.  Someone with schizophrenia who ingests a psychostimulant may be quick to experience hallucinations, delusions, etc. as a result of dopamine dysfunction.  Even people suffering from certain types of depression or anxiety may be more prone to stimulant psychosis as a result of their underlying psychiatric condition.

List of drugs that may cause stimulant psychosis

There are a variety of drugs that may cause stimulant psychosis – the most common ones are listed below (in alphabetical order).

Amphetamine Psychosis

You’ve maybe heard the term “amphetamine psychosis” which refers to an individual experiencing a psychotic state as a result of ingesting amphetamines.  Cases of amphetamine psychosis are most often documented among individuals who abuse or exceed standard doses.  Some studies have suggested that nearly 20% of those who use methamphetamine experience stimulant psychosis.

  • Adderall
  • Cathinone
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • DOM (STP)
  • Ephedrine
  • Levoamphetamine
  • MDMA
  • MDPV
  • Mephedrone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methcathinone
  • Vyvanse

Note: Keep in mind that not all amphetamines in existence are listed above, just some of the most common ones.

Amphetamine Psychosis Symptoms

It is important to understand that there are differences in symptoms of stimulant psychosis that are likely tailored to the specific drug that triggered it.  A person taking amphetamines may experience subtle differences in symptoms compared to a person taking cocaine or methylphenidate.

In a review of 168 patients with amphetamine-psychosis, it was discovered that “persecutory delusions” were the most common symptom of methamphetamine-induced psychosis; this occurred in approximately 77% of patients.  Second most common was auditory hallucinations at 44% and next strange beliefs and/or visual hallucinations.  The analysis clearly noted that amphetamine psychosis didn’t have much in common with negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

  • Auditory hallucinations: This is characterized by hearing voices or sounds that aren’t based in reality.
  • Delusions of persecution: The most common symptom was that individuals felt as if other people were out to harm, frustrate, or embarrass them.
  • Delusions of reference: This refers to a type of delusion in which a person believes that everything they are experiencing has strong personal significance.
  • Extreme agitation: Most people with amphetamine-induced psychosis feel extremely agitated and are unable to sit still, due to excess energy.
  • Visual hallucinations: Sometimes people may see people, creatures, or things that have no basis in reality.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14604449

How long does amphetamine psychosis last?

It is important to realize that recovery rates from amphetamine-induced psychosis are subject to individual variation.  For one person it may take a week to achieve full-blown recovery, yet for another it may take up to 30 days.  A select number of individuals take longer than 30 days to fully heal from the condition.

  • 10 Days: One study from the early 1990s estimated that methamphetamine-psychosis will last approximately 10 days for nearly 60% of individuals upon cessation from the stimulant.
  • 30 Days: Those that don’t recover within 10 days, have a good chance of recovering within 30 days (approximately one month).  This is assuming that the individual has ceased usage of amphetamines and has remained clean.  Nearly 80% of individuals are fully recovered within a month.
  • 60 Days: Most people will recover within 60 days of remaining clean from amphetamines and other substances.  It is important to understand that even using a small dosage of amphetamines may trigger a relapse.
  • Forever: There is some evidence suggesting that a small subset of amphetamine abusers never fully recover over the long-term from amphetamine psychosis.  This could be due to continued usage of the amphetamines despite experiencing psychosis, but it may also be due to long-lasting brain changes (e.g. drug-induced dopaminergic dysfunction).

It should be noted that for some individuals, amphetamine abuse may elicit neurochemical changes as well as alter genetic expression, to create a state of permanent schizophrenia.  While a permanent drug-induced psychosis is rare, it has been documented.  It is believed to occur most frequently in those with a predetermined genetic susceptibility.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1553491
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1553491

What about during amphetamine withdrawal?

Sometimes people experience amphetamine withdrawal psychosis when discontinuing amphetamines after long-term usage or abuse.  Stimulant psychosis can occur even among individuals going through Adderall withdrawal.  The difference between a withdrawal-based psychosis and a psychosis stemming from drug usage is that a person withdrawing finds that taking the drug actually reduces symptoms.  Among those experiencing stimulant psychosis, taking the drug tends to worsen symptoms.

  • Source: https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/cbad29804178755b94d1ff67a94f09f9/Guidelines+methamphetamine-induced+psychosis-DASSA-Oct2013.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=cbad29804178755b94d1ff67a94f09f9

Cocaine Psychosis

Cocaine has a different mechanism of action than amphetamines, and therefore cocaine-induced psychosis tends to be slightly different.  The high from crack cocaine tends to be shorter-lived than that from amphetamines, but both cause significant euphoria and dopamine levels to increase. Total lifetime usage of cocaine has no correlation with increasing risk of cocaine-induced psychosis, but usage of cocaine within the past year does.

Furthermore, the people most susceptible to cocaine psychosis had a longer duration of usage.  A sex-based comparison revealed that males were more likely than females to experience cocaine psychosis.

Cocaine Psychosis Symptoms

It is estimated that over 50% of cocaine abusers experience psychotic symptoms.  Most commonly, cocaine abusers tend to experience delusions, particularly those related to being persecuted (e.g. monitored) and that they have parasites or bugs in their skin.

  • Behavioral stereotypies: Roughly 1 out of every 4 individuals with cocaine psychosis experienced behavioral stereotypies (e.g. rocking, pacing, jumping, etc.).
  • Delusional parasitosis: It is common for people to believe they’ve become infested with parasites after abusing cocaine. This type of delusion is often characterized by users believing that parasites have burrowed under their skin.  Many people refer to the parasites as “cocaine bugs.”
  • Delusions of persecution: Many individuals experiencing cocaine-induced psychosis believe that they are being followed, watched, or that their drug usage is being monitored by someone else.
  • Hallucinations: Over 95% of individuals with cocaine psychosis experienced hallucinations during the cocaine-induced psychosis. The hallucinations that occur with cocaine users tend to be directly related to delusions that they’re experiencing.
    • Auditory: Nearly 80% of the hallucinations from cocaine usage were auditory, meaning the person heard a voice or sound that wasn’t real.
    • Visual: Second most popular was that of visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t real) at nearly 40%.
    • Tactile: Approximately 20% of individuals with cocaine-induced psychosis experienced tactile hallucinations or felt things that weren’t real.

Note: Symptoms are subject to significant individual variation based on many factors listed above.  That said, severity of symptoms tends to worsen with repeated usage of cocaine.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1752853
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21344286

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

This is a CNS stimulant medication that is often prescribed for the treatment of ADHD.  It often gets falsely clumped with amphetamines, despite the fact that it isn’t an amphetamine.  Like other stimulants mentioned, abusing methylphenidate or taking high doses for an extended period of time may induce psychosis. Taking methylphenidate at high doses releases a flood of dopamine at the postsynaptic receptor level, which likely causes the psychotic symptoms.

When taking methylphenidate over a short-term at therapeutic doses, the likelihood of experiencing psychosis is just 1%.  That said, it is unclear as to whether long-term, consistent usage of methylphenidate may trigger psychosis among users (especially those with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia).  In a study of nearly 100 children given methylphenidate at therapeutic doses, roughly 6% developed psychotic symptoms.

Methylphenidate Psychosis Symptoms

Those that experience methylphenidate-induced psychosis may experience similar symptoms to those experienced while taking other stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines.  Below is a list of symptoms that have been documented.

  • Aggression: Some individuals become noticeably more aggressive during their psychotic episode.
  • Anxiety: As a result of heightened stimulation and delusions, a person may experience severe anxiety and become fearful and mistrustful of others.
  • Auditory hallucinations: Many individuals that experience methylphenidate psychosis hear voices or have other forms of auditory hallucinations.
  • Confusion: Often times a person becomes extremely confused while in a state of psychosis. Their speech or thinking may not make much logical sense.
  • Delusions: Most commonly reported delusions are those characterized by paranoia. A person may feel as if they are being followed or persecuted by others.
  • Grandiosity: Some individuals experience delusions of grandeur in which they believe they are superior to everyone else.
  • Mania: This refers to rapid thinking, rapid speech, and an abnormally euphoric mood.
  • Irritability: The high energy as a result of the drug’s stimulation can make a person noticeably more irritable than usual during psychosis.
  • Visual hallucinations: Some individuals end up seeing things during their psychotic break that aren’t based in reality.
  • Self-harm: During a methylphenidate-induced psychotic break, a person may be likely to harm themselves or have urges to harm themselves. The urges may stem from hallucinations, anxiety, and paranoia.

Note: Symptoms listed above will differ based on the individual.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18978488
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5061074
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20571380
  • Source: http://www.journalmc.org/index.php/JMC/article/view/923/517

What about psychosis from methylphenidate withdrawal?

Some individuals experience psychosis when they attempt to discontinue methylphenidate. (Read: Ritalin withdrawal symptoms).  This is different from methylphenidate-induced psychosis in that withdrawal-based psychosis can be mitigated by taking more of the drug.  A person taking the drug that experiences psychosis will notice more severe symptoms and longer-lasting symptoms if they take more of the drug.  If you are experiencing a withdrawal-based psychosis from methylphenidate, it is recommended to taper at a slower rate.

Caffeine-Induced Psychosis

Of all the stimulant drugs capable of inducing psychosis, caffeine is the least likely.  However, it is important to consider the fact that some people ingest an abnormally high amount of caffeine on a daily basis.  Any stimulant, when taken at a high enough dosage (e.g. abused) has the potential to induce psychosis.  While cases of caffeine-induced psychosis are rare, they have been medically documented.

How caffeine may induce psychosis…

Some experts don’t believe that caffeine can cause psychosis, while others believe that only in extremely large doses is caffeine capable of causing psychosis.  Keep in mind that life stressors, sleep deprivation, malnourishment, and pre-existing psychosis (or a susceptibility) may make an individual more likely to experience psychosis from caffeine.  Some speculate that the mechanism by which caffeine induces psychotic states may be entirely different from classic stimulants.

  • Pre-existing psychosis: Those who already have had psychotic breaks or experienced psychosis as a result of a psychiatric condition (e.g. schizophrenia) may be more likely to experience caffeine-induced psychosis.
  • Susceptibility to psychosis: If you are a first-degree relative of someone that has experienced psychosis or that has schizophrenia, your susceptibility increases. Large amounts of caffeine may trigger genetic changes that push you into a psychotic state.
  • Ridiculously high dose: There is some evidence that when used in highly potent doses over long-terms, caffeine may elicit psychotic symptoms in individuals with no susceptibility to schizophrenia or psychosis. This may be strictly a result of cumulative neurochemical alterations as a result of long-term caffeine abuse.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Some experts believe that an important factor to consider among those that experience caffeine-induced psychosis is that of vitamin deficiencies, particularly various B vitamins. Deficiencies in vitamins and nutrients may increase susceptibility for psychosis.
  • Dopamine levels: Caffeine doesn’t directly stimulate the release of dopamine like the other stimulants listed above. In a person with dopaminergic dysfunction as a result of sleep deprivation, poor diet, and/or drug abuse – caffeine may push the brain to a breaking point, resulting in psychosis.

Note: It remains relatively unclear as to what specifically causes caffeine-induced psychosis.  That said, it is important to keep in mind that psychosis as a result of caffeine usage is rare compared to other stimulants.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19407709
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20194494
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15732884

General Symptoms of Stimulant Psychosis

As was mentioned above, the symptoms of stimulant psychosis are subject to individual variation as well as drug variation. Therefore it is nearly impossible to predict exactly what symptom set someone will experience, but it is slightly easier to predict if we know what drug they ingested or abused.  Generally stimulant psychosis is characterized by symptoms of organic psychosis (e.g. classic symptoms) accompanied by symptoms resulting from stimulant abuse (e.g. agitation).

Psychotic Symptoms

If you’re experiencing stimulant psychosis, you’ll likely experience one of several classic symptoms of psychosis.

  • Catatonia: Only in extreme cases will a person appear catatonic, unable to move and stuck in a rigid stupor. Realize that this isn’t as common among those experiencing stimulant psychosis due to the fact that stimulants boost energy.
  • Delusions: It is common to experience various types of delusions such as those of persecution, grandiosity, and reference.
  • Disorganized thinking: Some people display severely disorganized thinking, incoherent behavior, and inappropriate social interactions while experiencing stimulant psychosis.
  • Hallucinations: The most common type of hallucinations experienced during stimulant psychosis are auditory (hearing something that isn’t based in reality). After auditory are visual hallucinations (seeing things), followed by tactile (feeling things).  In many cases the hallucinations are related to the delusions.

Stimulant Abuse Symptoms

In addition to various symptoms of organic episodes of psychosis, a person with stimulant psychosis will have a variety of physical symptoms.  These physical symptoms make it relatively easy to distinguish stimulant psychosis from organic psychosis because they are a result of the heightened stimulation from a drug.

  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Arrhythmia
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperthermia
  • Nausea
  • Pupil dilation
  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10914291

Distinguishing stimulant psychosis from standard psychosis

It may be difficult for some people to determine whether they are experiencing stimulant psychosis or standard (organic) psychosis.  In standard cases of psychosis, the symptoms emerge regardless if the person uses the drugs and/or stops using the drugs.  In the case of stimulant psychosis, the psychotic symptoms tend to subside within 30 days of sobriety – remaining free of the stimulant.

In rare cases among those with a genetic susceptibility to psychosis will stimulant psychosis lead to permanent psychotic break.  This permanent psychosis only occurs in approximately 5% to 10% of all individuals that experience stimulant psychosis.  It should be noted that in some cases, it may take much longer than a couple months to fully recover from the stimulant-induced psychotic episode.

Stimulant Psychosis Treatment

There are some successful treatment strategies for those experiencing stimulant psychosis.  The most effective treatment for mitigating psychotic symptoms is a low dose atypical antipsychotic.  As an alternative or adjunct to atypical antipsychotics, some practitioners may utilize benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants to reduce stimulatory activity in the CNS.

Medical supervision

In the acute stages of stimulant psychosis, it is best if the patient is kept under medical supervision.  This supervision will help monitor and control any changes in blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate.  Stimulants taken at high doses often can increase blood pressure, body temperature, and lead to heart rate abnormalities.  A person may also may end up severely dehydrated.

  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Heart rate
  • Hydration

Medications and therapy

The most commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of stimulant psychosis are antipsychotics.  Sometimes benzodiazepines are added to the treatment equation and CBT (psychotherapy) is utilized to enhance recovery.

Antipsychotics: Some studies suggest that administration of atypical (newer) antipsychotics is the most effective treatment for stimulant psychosis.  Injections of atypical antipsychotics (e.g. olanzapine) are considered well-tolerated and can decrease symptoms of stimulant psychosis within an hour.  Older antipsychotics are less expensive, but tend to have significantly more unfavorable side effects – therefore newer options are preferred; often at a low dose.

Benzodiazepines: In some cases low doses of benzodiazepines may be administered to counteract the effects of the stimulants.  Benzos are known to decrease activity in the CNS and inhibit stimulation by increasing the neurotransmitter GABA.

CBT: For severe cases of stimulant psychosis, a person may require extensive cognitive-behavioral therapy to cope with the psychotic symptoms that they’re experiencing.  A skilled therapist will help guide the patient through their symptoms and differentiate the symptoms from reality.  This will allow for a smoother transition back to “reality” from “psychosis.”

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15339823
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19160215
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11687172

Have you experienced stimulant psychosis?

If you’ve taken any of the stimulants listed above (e.g. amphetamines, cocaine, methylphenidate, caffeine, etc.) and experienced “stimulant psychosis” feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.  Discuss the symptoms you experienced, the drug (or multiple drugs) you took that caused it, as well as the dosage you were taking.  To help others get a better idea of your situation you may want to mention how long the psychosis lasted and what you did to overcome or mitigate certain symptoms.

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • D March 20, 2018, 7:29 am

    I’m experiencing some auditory issues, too. I am on 20mg of Adderall XR and am done. I will never take an ADHD medication again. I had this same issue several years ago on a low dose of Vyvanse (30mg). It was terrifying.

    I thought it would be fine if I gave it another try because I’m back in school. Not worth it at all. I’ll be asking my doctor for a low dose antipsychotic. I am thankful I can ask my doctor for help. I feel bad for people who are going through this.

  • T March 17, 2017, 7:42 pm

    I was taking 20mg amphetamine resin complex X2 a day for almost 2 years. I began “hearing” voices that I thought were coming from my neighbors. It turned into a giant neighborhood plot to “get me”. I believed so strongly it was the actual person, I thought it was speaking because the voice I heard would matched the person, male or female.

    I then connected my neighbors to other employees at work causing the plot to get bigger and made me choose to quit my job. I so strongly believed that cameras were in my house, my vehicles, and all electronics and convinced myself thats were the voices were coming from as well. I now notice a strong case of tinnitus. I learned one night that I was able to have a conversation with the people talking by not opening my mouth and using just my tongue.

    This is when I grasped the voices were inside my head and thoughts. This was followed by a giant conspiracy from some type of agency that was created to destroy my life. Today I searched amphetamine psychosis and feel relieved to know that this is a symptom of the amphetamine. I have not taken the drug for 6 months now and although the symptoms have not completely gone away, they have diminished greatly.

    No plots, no specific voices of people around me, just tinnitus and a single, faint voice that repeats the same multiple sentences. I can only hope this delusion will continue to fade away until it is gone.

    • H W December 31, 2017, 2:55 pm

      My son has been prescribed adderall for the last 3 years by the VA. I begged them not to give him anymore because I could see a change in his behavior. He finally had a mental breakdown and ended up in the hospital. He thinks the FBI and police have a conspiracy against him and does not trust anyone. He tells crazy stories of things that happened to him that never did.

      It is horrible. The doctors don’t listen. they just keep prescribing more drugs. He is out of the hospital but still has some adderall left because they VA gives Vets a 90 day supply without even monitoring them. I am hoping when he runs out he will get better. this is a life an death situation and the Dr’s don’t care. And the drug companies don’t care they just want to make money. I am so sick of it.

    • David Benes April 23, 2018, 1:29 pm

      This is very, and I mean VERY similar to what happened to me, minus some gang-stalking, electromagnetic energy weapon stuff, and being burned to death with radiation. They could see and hear everything I was doing all the time, project voices into the inside of my head, control me.

      I cut up several books, pieces of clothing, a guitar case (which I thought contained microchips/tiny speakers), and thought there may or may not have been microchips in my brain and tiny speakers in my ears. I was sure this was all real, it wasn’t.

      I would be squeezing bumps in my clothes that I thought were tiny speakers, trying to crush them, while looking around the room and thinking what else they could be in? – And the voices would answer back, “everything you own.”

  • Sylvia November 17, 2016, 4:34 pm

    I am a recreational drug taker, female, aged 45. I have never had any problems with mental illness and tolerated ‘speed’ very well prior to the following event. I typically used stimulants once a week. In October 2013 somebody laced my speed with what think was ‘Ketamine’ or possibly GBH or maybe it contained both, I have had to research the effects.

    I could have died from the effects that ensued. I first lost my balance, then I don’t know what happened but I started to become aware again 7 hours later when I found myself wandering the backyard confused and drenched in sweat, my heart was racing and I was frightened, confused and alone. I called myself an ambulance after 8 hours and survived. However since that date I was in a permanent state of confusion and started having delusions that all my friends were persecuting me and sabotaging my life.

    I believed I was targeted in a community stalking program, that my partner was a secret underworld figure only pretending to work in a hospital, I believed I was under surveillance by a secret government organization, that I had been microchipped as a child, and that 100% of the people in my life and surrounding me were out to get me and involved in my persecution. I believed my family were an alien race covertly hiding among humans and were planning to take over the world and that I was half human and therefore an abomination to my alien family.

    I have however decided not to confront people with these beliefs as I believed they ultimately wanted me locked in a psych ward so I pretended to be normal with just a hint of paranoia. I have just started to lift out of this delusion psychotic state and the confusion is less and less. I obviously suffered a drug induced psychotic episode after being overdosed on I am pretty sure a mix of ketamine, GBH and amphetamine, lasting from 2013 until 2016.

    It continues but I can now get some help. It’s such a relief to finally know what’s wrong with me.

  • Julie September 2, 2016, 7:42 pm

    My fiancé started hearing voices well over 65 days ago. He is extremely paranoid. He believes that there is chip inside of his ear that broadcasts his voice and thoughts and causes physical pain. He is constantly holding his breath, spacing off, he talks to people like he is on the phone.

    He completely believes that this is some sort of telepathy. I took him into a mental health urgent care clinic and he was put zyprexa he has taken 8 doses and missed two when will there be a difference? Should I take him to hospital? Please help.

    • Sylvia November 17, 2016, 4:46 pm

      I believed I had been micro chipped as a child among other delusions of persecution (see my comment to the article). My psychosis was triggered by somebody giving me a massive overdose of Ketamine in my speed. Realising that my brain was damaged during that event has helped my thoughts rationalise.

      • David Benes April 24, 2018, 6:33 am

        How would you know that your brain was damaged? Doesn’t sound like something they’d scan your brain over. And how big was this dose of speed if one could fit a massive overdose of ketamine in it?

  • Sara August 15, 2016, 8:45 pm

    I started taking Adderall in college to help me study. I took it off and on and six years later got it prescribed. Two years later, I had a full blown psychotic episode. I had visual, auditory hallucinations and delusions. I lost touch with reality and almost killed myself. I went to a psychiatric hospital and was put on an antipsychotic.

    I continued taking Adderall and that was a huge mistake. I liked it so much I didn’t want to admit that it was harming me. I then ended up in the mental hospital again. The doctors put me on an antipsychotic an antidepressant and anti anxiety medication. Being on all of this medication made me want to end my life even more.

    I made a decision to get off all medication and even though you should contact your doctor before stopping your medication, I have never made a better decision. I am eating healthy and trying to exercise. Although I am not a 100% I am slowly gaining back the real me. I just want to caution people about prescription medication, I could have killed myself and left my children all because Adderall made it easier to clean or accomplish tasks.

    It’s not worth it. Also I urge you to do research on medication the doctor prescribes. Sometimes they are dipsh-ts and you know yourself better than anyone.

    • D March 20, 2018, 7:44 am

      I’m with you, although it seems like it makes life easier, it doesn’t. In the short term, ADHD medications seem harmless. I never want to go through repairing my mind and body after ADHD medication again. I will respect myself the way I am and work on being truly healthy. Good luck to you on your journey!

  • Keith July 19, 2016, 3:26 am

    My GF hasn’t slept right in a long time she’s been on high doses of adderall, she has been hearing the neighbors all plotting our doom and has imagined them following her stalking her. I had no idea this existed but now the more I read the more I see all the symptoms match exactly. I just want her back to who I fell for.

  • Jennifer July 2, 2016, 10:58 am

    Wow… I finally found what is wrong with my husband. At least now I have something to go on. Every time he picks up this script he is up for days. Sometimes he won’t stop talking. He then starts bringing up issue from 10 years ago and has ‘revisionist history’. Last night he was convinced the house was going to be taken away and his brother was trying to destroy him. I apparently did not care if he lost all of his money. I will be talking to his doctor. Thank you.

    • Emily Ware August 14, 2016, 1:35 pm

      My husband was prescribed 180 Mls of vyvanse and 40 Mls of ritalin. This psychiatrist has had his medical license revoked recently. This high dose of stimulant medication trigger such high anxiety that he became psychotic. He was admitted to emerge overnight, lowered his dose of vyvanse by 60 Mls and expected to be admitted to Homewood. We didn’t have $8,000 so he was left with outpatient care and self help classes.

      When consistently asked if he felt he was at risk to harm himself or others his answer was always “absolutely not”. I believe he responded this way due to a strong historical urge to maintain a sense of control to himself and others. There were many moments I felt he was so scattered or lost in his thoughts of anxiety, depression or paranoid thoughts that he had no control.

      Not acting out but not able to stop outside danger. For example, walking across the street, lost in his thoughts and a bus is coming. Even when alerted to speed up he didn’t. Or becoming so agitated that he would drive erratically with our children in the car. No one seemed to acknowledge my concerns or sense the true seriousness of these moments.

      The psychiatrist ended up treating him for psychosis and it was the stimulants that caused it. After the first visit to the hospital we immediately attended the appointment with the psychiatrist and he suddenly retired and my husband was left with no psychiatrist. Eventually he was admitted to hospital on a form 1 and admitted to the Trillium funded ward for possible psychosis and general concern for wellbeing.

      This was after a month of being home spiraling out of control while our three children had to watch. The doctors felt the stimulant medication was the cause of the psychosis and let us know that he would now be susceptible to future psychotic episodes under stressful times. It’s been almost 3 months and I’m seeing signs of paranoia.

      He is not on stimulant medication, and it doesn’t seems as intense as before but, I’m wondering if this is a permanent reaction he will have to deal with for his whole life. I’m wondering if anyone has any experience with this? Without a psychiatrist this is left with me.

  • K Powell May 4, 2016, 7:12 pm

    I’ve had treatment-resistant depression for 38 years, the last six of which I’ve had major depression, fighting thoughts of death and suicide. I’ve done cocaine four times in the past 20 years. The last time was about two months ago. I had resigned my job, and my estranged husband of 28 years called me and said he had a gift for me. It was cocaine.

    He was trying to get me back, and knew I would go for some coke, because it relieves my depression, if only for a night. Well, this time, unbeknownst to me, it was laced with methadone and a second amphetamine! He gave it to me several nights, and I quickly wanted more. He just kept on giving it to me, and I took it on and of for three weeks.

    He threw me out one morning (he was in anger management, and I thought he was doing better – stupid, trusting me!), and I had a psychotic break with full-blown visual and auditory hallucinations. It lasted several hours in my room at home. I finally came out of my room, burst into my grown daughter’s room, and made a fool of myself. I remember everything.

    By the time she called the police and threw all of my things out on the porch, I had been mostly shocked into reality. I had to go get the rest of my things from my husband’s place, and continued to have a delusion that he was out to get me and had put cocaine somewhere in my things. I had the presence of mind to call my brother and sister-in-law, because I knew they had at least dealt with depression, and finding the right meds.

    I gave them directions to a hotel right off the intestate, and checked myself into a room, where I immediately crashed! They watched me for 24 hours, while I slept most of the time. They even told me when we went to eat pizza, which I remember, I would be talking and all the sudden my head would drop like I was nodding off. I don’t remember that! Anyway, that next night, my bro suggested going to the hospital.

    I was not happy about that, but didn’t really put up a fight. I gave them directions to the hospital, where the toxicology report gave us the news of the methadone and additional amphetamine. I ended up on the stabilization ward at a psych hosp–yay! Anyway, bottom line is that I’m sufficiently scared off street drugs forever! So, I guess there is a silver lining in all that went on. That’s my story.

  • Lucifer April 20, 2016, 12:54 am

    My partner has been snorting IR Adderall for the five years I’ve known her. She will blow through an entire script given as 20mg, 3x per day (which is already excessive considering she doesn’t have ADD or narcolepsy) in usually half the month, sometimes less time than that. For the past year she’s been showing signs of delusory parasitosis/stimulant psychosis.

    She sees bugs everywhere, even to the extent of showing me pieces of lint, fiber, plastic, or whatever and insisting they’re alive. She stays awake all night tearing the house apart, talking to herself and often waking me up to tell me about some new infestation. At first I tried to not be objectionable, because I know it’s all very real to her – but she backs me into a corner (I think because she has doubts about what they are) and forces me into admitting that I don’t see anything in the way of bugs.

    Then she gets angry, sometimes violent – took her to her shrink and he put her on an antipsychotic, which helped for awhile but she backslid predictably at the beginning of the month when she filled her script. We go through this cycle until she’s out of her pills and all of her stashes (and I know where they live), then calms out of it for a week or two. It’s gotten progressively worse over the last year or so.

    Took her to her shrink again and he upped her dose on the antipsychotic. I think it’s a huge problem that he’s not questioning the adderall dosage – but then, it’s kind of a big problem that he’s prescribing such a high dose to begin with. I would talk to him about it, but I don’t trust him. I have ADD and take 30mg per day of the ER version, and I have to keep it on my person at all times, because she will and has stolen it from me on one admitted occasion, and twice now I’ve been short at the end of the month.

    I found a straw in the bathroom and threw it away along with a stack of more of them pilfered from McDonald’s or whatever. I don’t really know what that’s going to accomplish, but it’s at least a message (that we probably won’t talk about). I’m the LAST person to turn up my nose (no pun intended) at recreational intoxication, but she clearly can’t handle her sh*t, and I’m worried (as she has an underlying condition) about her lapsing into full-blown schizoaffective disorder.

    I don’t know what to do about this anymore – not that I have so far.

  • Kim December 14, 2015, 6:32 am

    I experienced stimulant psychosis twice, maybe 3 times now. At the end of the summer I binged on Molly and Adderall with a friend for a few days hardly sleeping. We both agreed not to do it again. I had been experiencing auditory delusions. Still taking small bits of Adderall, I took a nature walk with my two girl friends and we walked into a tick larvae nest. Thousands of tiny spider looking baby ticks were on our feet and legs.

    No big deal, but for days after I felt the bees all over me. I thought I had invisible microscopic bugs. I lost my mind for days. Leaving class (commuter college, I’m 27) and stripping in the bathroom hoping someone could come in and help because the were in my clothes. I cleaned my car and used Amina in it that day and felt better driving home from my friends by then I still felt them.

    I put pesticides in my car and went to see the blood moon and ate some mushrooms. Too many possibly, I got sick and fell in the bushes. I had my friend take me to his house to shower off potential bugs and change. After the mushrooms tho, the bugs were gone and I could admit, although at one point they were in my car my friend agreed by the end they were only in my head. Just recently I’ve been under a lot of pressure with my final semester at school and writing a thesis. So for New York City Santa Con my boyfriend and I decided to take some Molly, but we’ve been doing little bits here and there for the past week, maybe taking a day or take two off here and there.

    I’m not getting the grades I wanted at all. Anyway towards the beginning of the week I began thinking he was sniffing drugs in the background on the low so I told him he didn’t have to hide his Coke from me… he didn’t have to share it if you didn’t want to. He told me there is no Coke after couple days I was convinced that it was crack or meth it was being smoked in the bathroom I cleaned his entire house I found all the evidence I even found black gunk in bags I believed it was black tar heroin (NYC east coast. We don’t have that here it’s powder.)

    I found a really old jar full of silverdine cream for burns that had oxidized and tornado brown and black. I brought it to a friend of mine who is a sheriff to find out if it was heroin and he thought so possibly. Enough Google searching let me know that silvadine I can change colors. The jar of red liquid in the basement was from bleeding the oil burner, etc. Although I’m still slightly sure my boyfriend is hiding something, I believe I am paranoid and slightly delusional.

    Someone he or his tenant were smoking crack or meth for sure, or have the most awful garlic poop ever, but I went crazy for days tasting crumbs of white powder and even trying to burn them in tin foil to see if they bubbled… (they did but I’m not sure that’s a sure thing). When we got home from Santa Con I was sure he was sniffing something I couldn’t sleep when he went to sleep I figured he did go when we got home from Santa Con I was sure he was sniffing something I couldn’t sleep when he went to sleep I figured he did dope to.

    I confronted him about it around 930 and we spent the whole day working on it. In the middle of the night last night I’d say around four or 5 AM I heard bagpipes. There was no TV or no radio and certainly no bagpipes… anyway I’m a little sad I can’t do Molly anymore, but one thing is for sure I am. I’m sad that I have to do finals week also without Adderall I may take half of what I was originally taking as they were once prescribed at a low dose and they help me focus so much. Tonight I’m taking a Xanax and tomorrow is a new day.

    • jeff January 16, 2016, 12:35 am

      Just stop it. No more molly, no more adderall. Trust me.

  • lauraloo October 14, 2015, 12:43 am

    I suffered stimulant psychosis after binging on legal highs for a few months. These were drugs such as Methiopropamine (an analogue of methamphetamine) and the now illegal Ethylphenidate (analogue of methylphenidate/Ritalin). For nearly 9 months I believed my home was haunted, that spirits were trying to posess me and that i could see auras around everybody and smoke coming from my skin.

    I contacted druids, mediums clairvoyants and spiritualists for help, even agreeing to a spiritual circle conducting a ‘rescue’ and cleansing my house. I was ok for a day but then it returned and I’d cry and beg my husband to move house. he was unaware of my substance abuse. I also believed my neighbor who lived opposite was taking photos of us and even banged their door on one occasion, certain shed have a house full of cameras and tripods.

    I fell pregnant and upon stopping these substances it took me about 8 weeks to realize none of it was real. I’ll never touch a drug be it legal high or illegal again!

  • Leslie May 23, 2015, 4:23 am

    My 11 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD and was only on stimulant for 4 days and then had stimulant induced psychosis. He is still trying to recover from it. He has been admitted to two different lock down facilities and is now failing school. He is not acting like our son. I want him back. He was fine and doing well over all before taking the stimulants. He was getting good grades. He had some focus problems but was working through them. Will he ever get better?

    • Colleen April 11, 2016, 1:10 am

      Hi Leslie, I just saw your comment, as my 9-year-old son might be going through the same thing. He’s been taking Adderall for a year, seemed to be doing well with it, then noticed more anger recently. It’s steadily gotten worse, and we stopped the Adderall 4 days ago. The rage is still there: biting, throwing things at us, and occasionally saying something like getting a gun so he could kill us.

      A completely different boy. When you wrote “I want him back” that is exactly how I feel. How is he doing now, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m looking for answers for my son and can’t find any. I’m tired of crying.

      • Colleen April 11, 2016, 1:11 am

        I guess what I’m trying to ask is, does the Adderall eventually get out of his system? How long does it take?

        • Step August 6, 2016, 8:59 pm

          Hello to you both. I have been diagnosed with ADHD and started using Vyvanse. After around 10 months of Daily usage and including a lot of stress due to personal life experiences I had a psychotic outbreak. Its called Stimulant Psychosis and is not only due to the prescribed medication but an array of environmental situations might have influenced this.

          During my outbreak my family did not recognize me, and I didn’t recognize myself either. Your sons might be too young to have developed self awareness on their actions and they probably don’t know what they are doing. They will get better and remember it saying “wow that was not really me.” Don’t worry about it, they will get better and you will have your sons back.

          What’s important is to have a psychological treatment along with the stimulants withdrawal. I have gotten better and I am back. They can do it too, these will be tough times but, they will surely recover.

          • Matt September 28, 2016, 7:10 am

            Hi Im going through the exact same thing, exact same drug except its only been about 6-8 months so not much of a difference. Being the stubborn child I am, I got prescribed risperidone but have only taken it twice. Its been about a month now but I feel a lot better, I thought I was losing my damn mind.

            Not fun :( how long did it take for you to recover and what advice can you give me for the recovery? I don’t know if I should let my brain develop without any drugs or not but it is very stressful!!!!

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