Prolonged substance abuse can greatly increase the risk of delusional thinking. Drug or alcohol abuse can cause breaks from reality that can worsen over time. These delusions can cause dangerous behaviors and can lead to manipulation of others to obtain drugs. Studies have found that there is a link between substance abuse and a condition called Delusional Disorder.
Delusional Disorder is defined as bizarre or non-bizarre delusions that persist for at least a month. Non-bizarre delusions are ones that occur within the realm of possibility. Such as, a spouse or significant other is cheating or a relative might die. These are all possibilities that could come true. Bizarre delusions are those that are not possible. They are categorized by a loss of control over body and mind. Those suffering from bizarre delusions usually hold more firmly to a belief in the delusion than non-bizarre. Because of the impossibility of bizarre delusions, persons suffering from them should seek help.
Delusional Disorder usually doesn’t occur until middle to late adulthood. While some research suggests there is a genetic cause, other research shows delusional thinking can be caused or made worse by substance abuse. Many delusions are based in reality, such as the suspicion of a spouse cheating or a fear of losing a job. However, drug or alcohol abuse can worsen delusional thinking. Psychosis has been linked to Alcohol Use Disorder, drug abuse, even daily marijuana usage.
7 Types of Delusions
Psych Central compiled a list of 7 categories of delusional thinking, which can be applied to delusional disorders in addicts.
- Somatic – delusions relating to a bodily function, like a deformity or disease.
- Erotomanic – delusions that someone is in love with that person. Might result in unwanted attention by that person (i.e. stalking, obsessive behavior).
- Jealous – delusion that a spouse or lover is being unfaithful, despite a lack of evidence. This can be very dangerous and can sometimes lead to violence.
- Grandiose – delusions of increased self-importance or self-worth.
- Persecutory – delusions that an individual or loved one is spying or treating one unfairly. This can sometimes end up with legal action.
- Mixed – a combination of the above mentioned delusions.
- Unspecified – delusional symptoms don’t fit into an easily definable category.
One can most easily understand psychosis as a break from reality. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that 3 out of 100 people will experience at least one psychosis in their lifetime. Drug-induced psychosis, also known as substance-induced psychotic disorder, can occur for several reasons. Misuse of prescription drugs, mixing substances, taking too much of a substance, or withdrawal can all cause drug-induced psychosis. It is not true that taking a certain drug can cause mental illness. However, mental illness is a predictor of substance abuse and someone prone to psychosis can be triggered by becoming overly intoxicated.
Medications known for possible psychotic side effects include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Cardiovascular medications
Drug and alcohol addiction have terrible side effects. Delusional Disorder and psychosis are another part of how substance abuse hurt individuals, families and friends. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida can help with next steps.