Substance Induced Psychosis

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Substance Induced Psychosis

South Africa has alarming rates of substance abuse. Depending on the drug of use, drug use or excessive drug use can result in a mental disorder called substance induced psychosis. Read our booklet on substances of abuse to learn more and to find resources on where to get help.

What is Psychosis

Psychosis is a disorder in which a person is disconnected from reality. When a person is psychotic they may have one or more of the following symptoms:


Hallucinations are false perceptions of the world which a person believes to be real. Hallucinations can range from:

  • Hearing voices/sounds which are not there OR
  • Seeing objects/people which are not there OR
  • Smelling things which are not there OR
  • Feeling sensations on the skin.


Delusions are firmly held beliefs that are out of keeping with reality, the person’s identity and culture. An example of delusions are delusions of grandeur in which the person believes they are gods or in a romantic relationships with celebrities

What is Substance Induced Psychosis

Substance induced psychosis is the presence of one or both of these symptoms during or soon after a substance is used or after it is withdrawn. This then causes disturbances in the person’s life, their functioning socially and in other parts of life. This also causes distress to the person's immediate surroundings.

Which Substances cause psychosis

  • Cannabinoids: Marijuana and Hashish
  • Stimulants: cocaine (Coke, blow, ice), methamphetamine (Tik, meth), MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Inhalants: petro, paint, glue
  • Opioids: heroin (smack) and opium


Management of substance induced psychosis involves many healthcare professionals. This entails therapy, counselling and rehabilitation for drug abuse and continued efforts to change the person’s substance abuse behaviour. Some medications which could be given during this time may include:

  1. Antipsychotics (haloperidol, clozapine) to reduce the symptoms of psychosis
  2. Benzodiazepines to reduce the symptoms and ease anxiety.

Where to seek help

There are a number of avenues where people who are affected by substance induced psychosis can seek help, either directly or indirectly. See the resources on the following booklets on where to find help:

  • Alcohol
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health.
  • Mental Health