Derealization and Addiction Treatment

Derealization can be a frightening and disorienting experience that leaves you feeling alienated from the world around you, including the people you care about most. This complex phenomenon can be caused by a host of factors, including physical and mental ailments that disrupt your ability to connect with your surroundings. When you experience derealization alongside drug addiction, healing requires dedicated dual diagnosis treatment to restore your psychological and behavioral health.

If you or your loved one is struggling with substance addiction and a co-occurring derealization, we invite you to contact us at any time to learn more about your treatment options.

Distorting Reality

Derealization is characterized by a distorted sense of reality and altered perception of the external world. Unlike depersonalization, derealization does not involve alterations of your sense of self, but, rather, feeling alienated from your surroundings and emotionally disconnected from others. For some, these experiences are limited to a vague sense that the world around you isn’t real, while others experience distinct distortions of sensory information or time perception. Often, the most disturbing aspect of derealization is the chasm you feel in your personal relationships and your inability to connect even with those closest to you, leaving you emotionally untethered.

An estimated 5% of people will experience some form of derealization in their lifetime, and there are a host of potential causes for the condition. Derealization may be the result of neurological conditions, vestibular disorders, sleep disorders, or mental health disorders. Taking certain types of drugs may produce episodes of derealization, particularly psychedelics, marijuana, and dissociative hallucinogens. Not only can active drug use cause derealization, but withdrawal from drugs, including alcohol and benzodiazepines, can also give rise to the condition.

Symptoms of Derealization

Derealization symptoms may vary from person to person, but typically include:

  • Feeling divorced from your surroundings, as if you are in a movie
  • Feeling unable to connect with others emotionally
  • Physical surroundings appear blurry, distorted, lifeless, artificial, hyper-real, or two-dimensional
  • Having a distorted sense of time or distance

The severity and duration of derealization symptoms can differ for each person, but all types may have serious emotional ramifications and interfere with social and professional function.

Derealization and Addiction

Experiencing derealization for any reason can be deeply distressing, and you may turn to drugs to cope with the overwhelming psychological phenomenon you are experiencing. In some cases, it can be tempting to use drugs as a way to try to reconnect with the world around you and enhance the interpersonal relationships derealization has disrupted. In other cases, you may seek to numb the pain of derealization altogether via psychoactive substance use. Over time, this use can result in addiction, leaving you unable to control your drug use and endangering both your psychological and physical health.

Often, however, derealization is the result of drug use itself, particularly long-term, chronic use. Experiencing derealization can be an important signal that your drug use has gotten out of hand and has escalated to the point of addiction. Unfortunately, derealization can also be a part of the withdrawal process of certain types of drugs and experiencing derealization in early recovery may increase your risk for relapse as you seek to restore a sense of normalcy.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Regardless of whether derealization or drug addiction came first, dual diagnosis treatment is essential to helping you recover from both conditions, cope with their emotional impact, and prevent recurrence.

Dual diagnosis treatment allows you to simultaneously address your addiction and any psychiatric disturbances in a safe and supportive environment after thorough psychological testing and assessment. Through a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs, you receive the support you need to make meaningful changes and harness your innate ability to heal. By drawing on a comprehensive range of modern, evidence-based therapies, your treatment providers can help you create a strong foundation for recovery, personal transformation, and ongoing wellness. Your treatment plan should ideally include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Holistic Therapies
  • 12-step support groups

In addition, there is a range of pharmacological treatments available to ease both acute and chronic psychiatric symptoms to help you find relief from your suffering. If appropriate, a medically supervised detox program can also minimize your risk of experiencing derealization during the withdrawal process.

Dual diagnosis treatment gives you the opportunity to more fully understand the relationship between your drug use and derealization experiences and implement effective strategies for achieving emotional and behavioral tranquility. If your drug addiction or derealization episodes have damaged your relationships with loved ones, seeking out a treatment program that offers dedicatedfamily programming is often paramount to helping you heal together and repair what has been broken. With the support of compassionate clinicians and peers, you can move beyond drug addiction and nourish your relationships with both yourself and the world around you to create the life you truly want.

If you would like more information about drug addiction and derealization, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are always available to offer the support you need to move toward sustainable recovery and lasting psychological health.