Psychotic Symptoms and Challenges in Addiction Treatment

canstockphoto1795968Psychotic symptoms are some psychiatric issues that indicate a ‘break with reality’. They are either hallucinations or delusions. Many people have both. They can impair functioning in a range of severity—from mild and moderate to severe.

What are Hallucinations?

Hallucinations are false sensory perceptions. They can occur in any of the five senses: auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile or gustatory (taste). A common example is hearing voices that seem to come from the environment when no one is there and no one else can hear it. The same is true of hallucinations in any other sense: seeing, smelling, feeling or tasting something that is not present either.

What are Delusions?

Delusions are false beliefs that persist despite being contrary to commonly accepted reality. They also persist despite rational arguments. There are various types of delusions such as delusions of grandeur or persecution. Delusions can also be very specific. For example: one may believe that others can hear their thoughts; that they are being followed; that a famous person is in love with him/her, or strangers are talking about them

Psychotic Symptoms and Addiction

Some people have an addiction along with a mental health problem that has psychotic symptoms. For instance, someone may be addicted and have schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. Also, some with addictions may have forms of depression and Bipolar Disorder that also cause hallucinations and/or delusions.

Psychotic symptoms can also be substance-induced. That is, they do not come from a freestanding mental illness, but are a result of substance use itself. Some substance-induced psychotic symptoms persist in sobriety, but many resolve after a period of abstinence.

Psychotic Symptoms and Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment for people with psychotic symptoms should be able to effective treat the psychosis and substance issues at the same time. A dual diagnosis (or co-occurring) treatment program is the best medical practice available to do so. Service providers are trained to understand mental health and addiction symptoms and how the two interact. They can best make and implement an appropriate treatment plan to stabilize both issues.

Treatment may involve a safe and therapeutic inpatient environment. This allows supervision and monitoring util the psychosis is resolved. Safety issues can occur, depending upon the degree of impairment. Also, withdrawal and detox can cause psychotic symptoms to worsen for a time. Inpatient dual diagnosis programs can provide the support needed for safety and comfort. They can also provide non-addictive medications to reduce hallucinations, fear, anxiety and panic.