Alex was lost. The school hallways she walked in every day made no sense, and she found herself feeling disoriented in a once-familiar maze. As she wandered the campus, she was overtaken by an unshakable anxiety and nothing seemed right. “I really knew I needed medical attention,” she says as she recounts the day her life changed.
For Alex, the cause of her disorientation wasn’t a mystery. The day before, she had smoked pot with her friends, a habit she had gotten into in the hope of fitting in socially. “I never thought there was anything wrong with that because that was what my friends were doing,” she remembers. And for a while, nothing went wrong. Until one day it did. “On this day I did get high, I got really high. I didn’t enjoy the experience.” Her friends reassured her that she would feel better as soon as she came down, but hours later she still felt the uncomfortable high as acutely as she had that morning. The next day she started stumbling through the hallways. “I lost my ability to rationalize things. I was no longer able to differentiate what was real and (what) was not real,” she explains.
Doctors quickly identified her condition as drug-induced psychosis. But despite her swift diagnosis, it would take a long time for Alex to regain a sense of normalcy. “It took almost two years before I could go back to work,” she says. Now, she tours campuses to share her experience and warn others of the dangers drugs can hold. “If I could make even one person think twice about their actions about using drugs and even just smoking pot, that is what I want.”
Like Alex, many drug users don’t think much about drug-induced psychosis, particularly if they are using drugs they perceive to be low-risk, such as marijuana. But some believe this condition is becoming more common as the use of certain stimulants increases, marijuana becomes more potent, and new designer drugs enter the market. So how long does drug-induced psychosis last, what are the symptoms, and how is it treated? By exploring the answers to these questions, you can gain deeper insight into this troubling condition.