How Long Does Meth-Induced Psychosis Last? Tips for Helping a Family Member Cope

Meth addiction can be disruptive to both an individual’s life and the lives of their family members. Psychosis only adds to that strain—but luckily, both are treatable and can be overcome. Learn how to recognize the warning signs that indicate meth use and meth-induced psychosis, how long the effects of meth-induced psychosis last, and when (and where) your loved one can find the help they need to begin walking the road to recovery today.

Loving a family member who has a methamphetamine dependency can be hard. They may have quit meth and relapsed, perhaps many times. They may lie, steal or manipulate others just to get another fix. And these problems are made worse if their meth addiction causes psychotic behavior.

Psychosis is when a person perceives stimuli or has thoughts that are not based in any sort of external reality. Under meth-induced psychosis, your family member may have delusions such as believing they are dead, believing they are under the constant watch of authorities like the FBI or the police, or even believing others can hear their thoughts. They may have visual or auditory hallucinations, claiming to hear you say things you’ve never actually said.

Meth dependency affects the whole family, and can be difficult for everyone—not just the person using—to overcome and move past. But no matter how hard it gets, always have hope—meth addiction, and any associated psychosis, can be successfully treated. To get you and your family started on your healing journey, we’ll talk more about the signs of meth dependency, the stages of meth addiction, when psychotic behavior can occur, and how long it can last.

Meth Addiction and Psychosis: Warning Signs to Watch For

Co-occurring drug use and psychosis can be tricky to spot, and complicated to confront. Addiction doesn’t always cause psychosis, and psychosis doesn’t always lead to addiction. Knowing what to look for in both cases can help you determine when, and where, to seek help for your loved one.

Signs of Meth Addiction

Even if you know your loved one is using, it can be difficult to know exactly what they’re using. However, there are some behavioral changes and paraphernalia associated with meth that can offer clues. Here are some key behaviors to look out for:

  • Aggressive, violent behavior
  • Severe paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Social isolation
  • Risky, impulsive behavior
  • Hyperactivity or talkativeness
  • Showing an uncontrollable nervous tic or twitch
  • Hallucinations
  • Weight loss, loss of appetite
  • Restlessness, sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated body temperature or heart rate
  • Skin abscesses caused by injections
  • Broken teeth or bones

There are several items associated with meth use, including charred, blackened spoons; aluminum foil, especially with scorch marks; pipes, including water pipes; and syringes. If you find any of these in your family member’s car, closet or bedroom—especially if they are hidden—consider it a major red flag.

Symptoms of Meth-Induced Psychosis

Psychosis, like addiction, comes in many shapes and forms. Psychotic symptoms that are particular to meth-induced psychosis include:

  • Paranoia and secretiveness
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Aggressive behavior, often associated with fear of persecution
  • Twitchy, restless, or hyperactive attitude
  • Obsessions and/or compulsions

Watching a loved one struggle with meth addiction alone is scary; witnessing psychotic behaviors on top of that addiction can make for a terrifying experience. Know that beneath their symptoms, the person you love is still there—but, because of the drug in their veins and the psychosis it’s causing, they are often not in control of their own behaviors and attitude.

Meth-Induced Psychosis: How Long Does it Last?

Meth-induced psychosis is painful to witness and may become dangerous for both you and the addicted family member, so it’s important to know what to expect.

  • Transient psychosis comes and goes. It may last for just a few hours, or up to a week.
  • Persistent psychosis can linger up to six months after quitting meth. And if the individual has abused meth repeatedly over a period of time, they run the risk of causing long-term brain damage.
  • Psychosis may occur while the user is under the influence of the drug, while they are coming down off a high or whenever they crave another dose.
  • In the case of long-term brain damage, psychosis may persist even once they are sober. If you think your loved one may be high and they are having psychotic symptoms, it’s possible the symptoms may pass when the effects of the drug wear off.

If they become violent or have seizures, you should call 911 immediately. You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Remember, your safety—and that of your loved one—is the highest important priority of all. Don’t hesitate to contact emergency services if things get out of hand.

Detox and Withdrawal: Getting Your Loved One Sober Safely

Battling meth dependency is a fight for the future of your whole family. Because it’s such a powerful drug, it’s going to take high-quality, comprehensive medical and psychological care to achieve lasting sobriety. The best way to intervene with the cycle of meth abuse, tweaking, and re-use is to get them into an environment where they are safely away from the drug and able to access medical and psychological care from professionals, 24 hours a day. And you’ll only find that at a residential treatment facility.

Your family member needs to have a medically supervised detox and cannot do it alone. After discontinuing meth use, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Depending upon how long they have been addicted, they may experience these mental and physical symptoms for days or weeks. Starting 24 hours after their last dose, they can experience fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, itchiness, and the psychotic symptoms of paranoia and hallucinations. If they have been using for a long time, there may be damage to the brain’s dopamine receptors, causing a reduced ability to feel pleasure. People often relapse during detox, because all they want is to be able to feel pleasure and happiness again.

With their appetites and sleep cycles no longer suppressed, your family member may regain lost weight and catch up on lost sleep. Unlike the flu-like symptoms of opiate detox, those recovering from meth addiction will likely be very tired and have intense headaches. They will probably be dehydrated, which requires medical treatment. Detoxing without medical supervision is especially ill-advised if your family member has any co-occurring psychiatric complications. They must have psychiatric professionals available there to treat anxiety, depression, and psychotic symptoms.

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Finding the Right Tools for Recovery in Residential Treatment

In a residential setting, your family member will be safe—away from the environment and people that tempted them to use and supported 24/7 by doctors, nurses, therapists, and psychiatrists. If they require any psychiatric medication it will be prescribed, monitored, and adjusted as needed. They will receive daily one-on-one therapy to heal the underlying causes of meth abuse, such as trauma or depression, and will learn coping skills, reality acceptance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal skills.

In group therapy, your family member will meet others who are facing similar addiction and psychosis recovery challenges. Residential treatment will give them a structured daily routine where they can develop healthy living habits without the distractions of school, work, or familial obligations. And they will receive a long-term treatment plan to help them maintain their sobriety and mental health and move on with their lives after leaving the facility.

When you bring a family member to a residential treatment facility, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they will be in excellent hands 24 hours a day. They’ll get the most thorough care available in an environment tailored to create lasting mental health and sobriety. In short, they’ll get a fighting chance. And after all you’ve been through, isn’t that what you and your family truly deserve?

Helping an addicted family member can take a lot of work and patience, but don’t give up. You have the power to make a big difference in a family member’s life, and you may be the best person to help them. With your courage and compassion to guide them, they can begin to break the hold meth-induced psychosis has on them and begin true healing, body and soul. Find a long-term, comprehensive residential treatment center and ask how to admit your family member today. The sooner you can get them in treatment, the safer and healthier your entire family will be.

BrightQuest is a long-term residential treatment center for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned San Diego-area program and how we can help you or your loved one begin the journey toward recovery.