Methamphetamine Psychosis: Why It Happens and How You Can Get Help

Many people who abuse meth eventually develop psychosis. This unusual state of mind causes you to think unclear thoughts, and it could bring on hallucinations and false beliefs.

Psychosis is a mental state in which your thoughts and perceptions become distorted, making it hard for you to tell what’s real from what’s not. You may see or hear things that aren’t there, believe things that are clearly false, and be unable to relate normally to others. 

 Meth use can trigger psychosis. This alarming symptom compounds the danger of meth abuse, because it can cause you to act erratically. This may put your job, your freedom, your relationships, and even your life in jeopardy. 

Meth-Induced Psychosis Symptoms

Methamphetamine psychosis may sound scary and extreme, but it’s also fairly common. A 2018 review of studies in the journal Psychiatry Research found that 36.5% of meth users across 17 studies developed psychosis. 

“Meth psychosis is usually characterized by paranoia and hallucinations where a person believes someone is out to get them,” Brian Wind, PhD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. He’s a clinical psychologist and chief clinical officer at the addiction treatment center JourneyPure. 

Wind says you might have other symptoms, too, including: 

  • Being agitated or jumpy
  • Talking very quickly
  • Jumping from one topic to another
  • Having conversations that are hard for others to follow
  • Having very strange or unusual beliefs
  • Believing others are conspiring against you
  • Having itchy skin, which may feel like there are bugs crawling on you 

Meth isn’t the only thing that can cause psychosis. Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia may trigger psychotic episodes, so it’s important for anyone with a history of psychosis to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

Wind says that there are subtle differences between meth-related psychosis and other types of psychotic episodes. He says that people with schizophrenia may have trouble with clear thinking, and may show changes in what they look at and pay attention to. People with meth-related psychosis are more likely to have hallucinations, causing them to see or hear things that aren’t actually there. 

Because psychosis means a person is disconnected from reality, it is extremely unlikely that you’ll recognize psychosis if you experience it. Instead, you might feel agitated and upset, wonder why no one believes you, or feel very different from everyone else.