While meth psychosis and schizophrenia can cause delusions and hallucinations, the two separate conditions have distinct differences.

Psychosis is a state in which you lose touch with reality. When you’re experiencing psychosis, it can be challenging to know what’s real and what isn’t.

Certain substances, such as methamphetamine or meth, can trigger psychosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16,500 people died from a meth overdose in 2019, and the number continues to rise. Meth is a powerful stimulant often misused because of its ability to enhance mood and boost energy.

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that can cause hallucinations, delusions, and changes in behaviors, thoughts, and perceptions.

Meth psychosis and schizophrenia are separate conditions that share some similarities.

Methamphetamine psychosis can mimic the signs of schizophrenia. Though they’re similar, there are clear differences between the two conditions.

SymptomMethamphetamine PsychosisSchizophrenia
disorganized speechXX
rapid heart rateX
high blood pressureX
excessive sweatingX
skin pickingX
tooth decayX
gum inflammationX
issues with social interactionsX
problems keeping a jobX

Meth psychosis can lead to mental and physical symptoms, including elevated heart rate and high blood pressure.

People with schizophrenia don’t usually have physical symptoms unless they have an underlying condition. Schizophrenia symptoms mainly include disorganized thoughts and behaviors.

How long meth psychosis lasts

You’re most likely to experience psychosis if you use meth in high doses or have been using it for a long time.

Meth psychosis can either be acute or chronic. With an acute episode, symptoms will usually subside soon after you stop taking the substance. Chronic meth psychosis lasts much longer. It continues even when the drug is no longer in your system.

According to a 2018 review, 30% of people who have an episode of meth psychosis still have symptoms up to 6 months later.

How long schizophrenia-related psychosis lasts

It’s common for people with schizophrenia to receive a diagnosis after their first episode of psychosis. For some people, symptoms of psychosis come and go. Others may experience a steady state of psychosis.

If left untreated, schizophrenia symptoms, including psychosis, won’t go away.

Methamphetamine, a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system, is a powerful substance and has the potential for tolerance. Because it lasts longer and more of it gets to the brain, methamphetamine has more harmful effects on the body than similar stimulants.

Doctors can legally prescribe it to treat conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But it’s a controlled substance because of the high potential for misuse.

But there is a big difference between Desoxyn — methamphetamine prescribed by doctors — and street methamphetamine, or “crystal meth.” Crystal meth is typically made in unsafe lab conditions with additives that can be harmful.

In 2020, an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States had a methamphetamine use disorder.

Meth has short- and long-term effects on the body. Short-term effects may include:

  • increased attention
  • increased energy
  • decreased appetite
  • sense of euphoria
  • increase breathing rate
  • rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • hyperthermia

Potential long-term effects are:

  • addiction
  • psychosis
  • changes in brain function and structure
  • issues with motor skills
  • problems focusing
  • memory loss
  • aggressive behavior
  • mood changes
  • dental problems
  • weight loss

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), substance-induced psychosis, like meth psychosis, is a separate diagnosis from schizophrenia.

But when you experience psychosis for longer than 6 months, you may receive a diagnosis of a specific psychotic illness.

One 2010 Thai study found that 38.8% of people hospitalized with methamphetamine psychosis later received a diagnosis of schizophrenia because of lasting psychosis.

Similar studies in the United States also found people hospitalized for meth psychosis are more likely to receive a schizophrenia diagnosis later.

This may happen because:

  • Meth may trigger schizophrenia. It may activate a preexisting vulnerability to a psychotic disorder.
  • The genes related to meth psychosis and schizophrenia may be similar. A family history of schizophrenia may mean you’re more likely to experience meth psychosis and develop schizophrenia.
  • Meth may alter body chemistry. Changes to body chemistry may causeschizophrenia even in people without an existing vulnerability or family history.

More research is needed to fully understand the link between meth use and schizophrenia.

But it does appear you’re more likely to receive a schizophrenia diagnosis if you experience meth psychosis or misuse the substance.

There’s no medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) available to treat meth use disorder.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment for meth addiction is a behavioral therapy plan that may include some or all of the following:

  • one-on-one counseling
  • family therapy and education
  • 12-step support
  • drug testing
  • nondrug-related activity promotion

After therapy for cessation, it may be helpful to consider an inpatient support program.

Treatment for schizophrenia focuses on managing symptoms and improving daily functioning.

Antipsychotic medications

Medication can lessen the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Most doctors prescribe antipsychotic medication as the first line of treatment for schizophrenia.

Psychosocial treatments

Schizophrenia can make your daily routine challenging. You may find it helpful to pair the following strategies with medication:

Meth psychosis and schizophrenia are different conditions that present with similar symptoms.

The link between harmful meth use and schizophrenia isn’t well understood. But some researchers say problem meth use may increase your likelihood of developing schizophrenia, especially if you experience meth psychosis.

If you’re misusing meth or other substances, resources are available to help, including SAMHSA’s National Helpline for people with substance use disorders.

Asking for help can be difficult, but you may find it helpful to reach out to someone you trust. If you’re living with a substance use disorder or have symptoms of schizophrenia, consider talking with a mental health professional.

You might also want to consider reaching out to a support group, either for people with schizophrenia or meth addiction.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, you’re not alone:

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