Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Drug induced psychosis or not?

About a year ago my son started to try some drugs LIKE ACID LSD wax marijuana and developed drug-induced psychosis … he’s on meds . He was first diagnosed as schizophreniform and six months later Diagnosed schizophrenia . My question is if he didn’t take those drugs in the first place would he still have this condition schizophrenia ? And my second question is did the drugs give him schizophrenia and will he have it for life ? I’m
So heart broken and my house is falling apart . I thank gd for this site and Nami :pray:


My opinion, from personal experiences and medical research, is that drugs such as acids and LSD can trigger schizophrenia in people who have pre existing risk factors for mental illness.

That was true in my husband’s case. He did some type of acid whole on a road trip w friends, which triggered a psychotic break, and eventual diagnosis of paranoid sz. He also has several members of his family w bipolar or sz.


Thank u for your reply and I’m sorry to hear about your husband , what your wrote I’ve been told but can drugs actually give you schizophrenia ? and if my son didn’t use than would he still have got schizophrenia or is it a question that no one can really truly answer ?

I don’t think the drugs can give someone sz.
Perhaps he was already feeling symptoms and he did the drugs to feel better, or self medicate.

Would the disease manifest itself without the drug use? I can’t say. For someone w a high risk of sz, any number of stresses could trigger it.

Concentrate on the good thing that he is getting treatment now.

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Trying :pray: and thank you :blush:

Using illicit substances does not cause schizophrenia, according to Dr. E. Fuller Torrey in the book “Understanding Schizophrenia”. Current research suggests that 80% of the illness is genetic in origin.

I guess this leaves 20% for environmental factors like stress, abuse, illicit drug use, being subject to prejudice, bereavement, a difficult birth, and many others.

There is a chance a truly drug induced psychosis in a person with no genetic predisposition to mental illness could last longer than expected, but stop. If someone is diagnosed with any type of psychosis, the best thing to do is get medical treatment and psychosocial supports. (And hopefully stop using illicit drugs.)

So, either way, you are doing the right thing by helping your son get medical treatment.

I hope your son feels better and that your home becomes peaceful again.


I truly appreciate your reply , thank you

Linda, I was told by a doctor that there was no way to really know. It is what it is. Through my research I am learning that it is likely epigenetics, something that makes our loved more predeposed to getting this. In my opinion the reason they are drawn to LSD and similar drugs is to explain their illness and they like the euphoria of the drug. My son would rather you believe he is on drugs than have a mental illness. It is a sad statement of where we are as a society and our false attitudes about mental illness.

We had to get guardianship and keep tight reins on our son or he would not be alive today. He hasn’t used these substances for years but I believe he would if he had the opportunity. He is our son and we plan to protect him as long as we are able. I wish you the best and am glad you reached out.


Hi Linda,

Some people are quite sure that drugs caused their child’s psychosis. I know that my son had really small changes to his personality before he stated self medicating with pot - I don’t know what else he tried for self medication, I suspect probably anything in an attempt to make himself feel better. Pot is his drug of choice.

When the folks at FtF were trying to convince me that my son had scz, they asked me which came first? The paranoia or the anxiety? I was able to answer immediately that the paranoia had come first.

Long before the paranoia started, my son began isolating himself from his friends. Something deep inside me knew something was wrong at that point because I distinctly remember hanging up and just looking at the phone. My son had called from college to say his friends were unhappy with him. I asked him why and he said they were unhappy that he didn’t want to do anything with them anymore. He had always loved being with his friends more than anything.


There is so much we don’t know about brain function. Illness and drugs can induce psychosis. Poisoning can induce disorganized thought or hallucinations. Some think it may be related to gut bacteria. Or environmental. Or genetics. All of us in the beginning spend some time on the what ifs…

The bottom line is unlike forensic science tv shows in which they sovle everything, often times we just don’t know the trigger or the prominence of the trigger in the permanent changes in behavior.

My point is, maybe the drugs played a part, and they certainly are not helpful, but neither is trying to figure out the cause.

One day my son said to me, it is what it is…and I stopped looking for explanations and started learning to understand the new son I had.

He doesn’t always accept he has an illness and is not med compliant. Some days are good, some he goes down one rabbit hole after another. Some days are exhausting and some are peaceful. My son is not the same, but he is here and coping. Hang in there.


Thank you for your reply, it is really comforting not to be alone … still so new for me and still digesting everything … one day at a time … I truly wish you all the best :pray: this is great support for me and thank you once again

I just didn’t see my son had any symptoms or problems before he started exploring with drugs . It was only after he took drugs his behavior was unbearable and later down the road he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I believe his father has bi polar , do you know if are they connected in any way ? This is just so hard and heartbreaking

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Hi Mom2 (or anyone else with experience with obtaining guardianship or financial trusteeship to help a loved one) Our son, 23, living with SZ has not managed money well… He used a large amount of a lump son of disabiltiy income he received for illicit drugs, ran up credit cards and overall is not responsibly managing his funds. Currently he is off street drugs, however that can change again any time and we want to help him manage well. We researched when living in Alberta to obtain financial trusteeship so his money would not be used on illicit drugs etc. However we were advised that he is not “incompetent” or “incapable” enough. So we were advised we wouldnt’ be able to get trusteeship. Mom2, I notice you mention you did get guardianship. Are you in Canada or US and can you please share your experience with this?


There are many people who believe their loved one’s illness came after drugs. While bipolar and scz are two different mental illnesses, people with bipolar can have delusions and in extreme cases, psychosis.

Does his father suffer from psychosis with his bipolar?

That’s what happened to my dad too. We have no other family history of SZ on his side. LSD increases the uptake of dopamine in the brain, causing hallucinations. But there is no reason for the effect to be permanent. A lot can happen in the womb while the neural tube is developing for the first 12 weeks. Stressors and chemicals can alter already weak or vulnerable gene patterns. Later, when the same baby becomes an adult, they may be unknowingly sensitive to hallucinogenics. These drugs induce a huge change in their normal brain chemistry. Sometimes the brain is so vulnerable too the change, that the chemistry is permanently altered.

Since my dad is paranoid SZ and my mom is bipolar, I have a high risk of devoloping a mental illness. I have tried MJ before but it only makes me giggle. A part of me is afraid to try drugs such as LSD and mushrooms because I do not want to become SZ/develop a mood disorder. -But a part of me does want to try (at some point in my lifetime) a hallucinogen just to see what it is like to have a hallucination. I want to have perspective into what my dad sees and hears everyday.


Yes, I am in the US and he had done the same thing. My husband and I knew that if we didn’t do something rather quickly he would be dead. He was punching the air and went up to a large window and the glass broke and he cut his hand. I used that as a way to get him in the hospital. Once there it was obvious that he was talking to other people and had all kinds of stimuli going on. They were able to keep him 10 daysbut encouraged me to file an MIW to keep him longer.

He was held and moved to the state hospital for longer care. He went before the judge and was ordered to take medication. We filed for guardianship at that time because he could not get take care of his money nor himself. They interviewed him and talked with the doctors well he was in the hospital and his attorney testified in court that she felt guardianship was necessary. It was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but it went much better than I had thought possible.We had to testify why we were seeking guardianship and I just relayed a few episodes. The jury was very concerned and sympathetic and it was ruled that I was the guardian and my husband is the second guardian and the reason we did that is so that we don’t both have to sign every thing. My son doesn’t like it and it one time I thought I would have to get off of it or turn it over to someone else but presently he’s not pushing it. It allows us to go into the doctors and talk to the doctors on his behalf and relay how we think he’s doing at home. We still are not legally able to medicate him without his consent but some doctors are willing to write a script. We work with the doctor and try our best to get her son to take medication. He currently is taking a low-dose AP at night only. We see the doctor hopefully tomorrow and see if she’ll allow us to continue with it or recommend something else.

My son didn’t show signs of mental illness until he did something called bath salts around age 20. We have no family history of schizophrenia. He is 31 now and not med compliant. He doesn’t speak to us, his parents, because he believes we physically and sexually abused him. He blames us for everything wrong in his life.

I’m sorry to hear that. Our brains do heal and I am hopeful our son’s brain will heal. That is my prayer.


Thank you Mom2. I pray ther brains heal too. This is an awful disease. I will never know for sure if the drugs caused this or not. I just know I miss the son I used to have. The holidays are especially hard. My nami friends tell me not to no let this ruin my holidays but it is hard.


Thank you Mom2. I am so sorry to hear of the difficult journey your son and your family have endured. I hope things continue to improve. With regard to medication… my son stabilized for the psychosis symptoms only once put on a monthly injection medication… The injection meds seem to be a lifesaver for many. The down side is its difficult to titrate down when it becomes possible to taper down… With regard to our hope to gain guardianship… It is good you persevered to do what was needed with guardianship… We would have been wise to seek guardianship right at the time when he was doing all the rampant spending and cocaine use and was put in hospital on Community Treatment Orders . We were too grief stricken and burned out with all the chaos to think clearly… I suppose we can still try now while things are a bit more stable; it would seem we would have to hire a lawyer.

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