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Drug-Induced Paranoia

Paranoia is the unfounded feeling that people are watching, judging or otherwise out to get you. For example, you might feel paranoid when you are tired or stressed out, or during occasions when you are uniquely vulnerable, such as walking alone after dark.

While paranoia is a hallmark of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, several drugs can also make you feel suspicious or fearful, including marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and LSD. Drug-induced paranoia can result from either withdrawal or intoxication.

Symptoms of Paranoia

Here are some examples of how you might experience paranoia.

  • Feeling you cannot trust others, including friends and loved ones
  • Questioning people’s reasons for taking specific actions
  • Overestimating your role or believing other people do not appreciate your contributions
  • Believing that movies, TV shows or the internet are sending you secret messages only you can understand 
  • Attributing a special significance to people’s behavior that does not have any basis in reality

In extreme situations, paranoia can also cause visual and auditory hallucinations, panic attacks and violent behavior. As paranoia increases in severity, it will become more challenging to distinguish reality from delusions.

What Is Drug-Induced Paranoia?

Drug-induced paranoia symptoms often have a gradual onset, becoming progressively dangerous as an addiction progresses. If you have an underlying mental health condition that causes paranoia, drug use can worsen your symptoms. Even if you don’t have a co-occurring mental illness, substance abuse can make you distrustful of others, damaging your relationships.

While paranoia resulting from stress or fatigue is typically short-lived, the type of paranoia that comes from mental illness or drug abuse is an ongoing issue that will become worse if left untreated. However, paranoid people may be wary of authority figures, including mental health professionals who are trying to help them feel better.

How to Get Help for Drug-Induced Paranoia

If you have a dual diagnosis of a substance use disorder and mental illness, you will need to get simultaneous treatment for both issues. Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help you recognize patterns of negativity and learn to replace them with more constructive thoughts about yourself and other people. 

Since addiction is a chronic illness characterized by relapses, enrolling in a qualified treatment program is the best way to learn to manage your symptoms and lead a healthy, substance-free life. At Vista Taos, your continuum of care will begin with medically supervised detox to clear your body and brain of drugs. Once you are stable enough, you’ll begin your residential treatment program, where you will receive personalized care, participate in 12-step meetings and enjoy holistic benefits like grief and loss counseling and mindfulness-based relapse prevention. 

When you participate in treatment at Vista Taos, our beautiful location will provide a backdrop for your healing process. Taos, New Mexico, has been a spiritual center dating back to Native American cultures. Contact us today to learn more about our men’s and women’s addiction recovery and mental health services.

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