Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Mental health & street drugs


I was wondering if anybody knows if poor mental health is always mostly caused by taking street drugs?
It seems a lot of our children/relatives dabble in them.
My son did, started smoking cannabis at 12 years of age then progressed to other things mainly cocaine.
I found out about the cannabis when he was about 16/17. But remained unaware of the extent if his using until his mid/late twenties.
He was dx schizophrenia at age 26 but he seemed more bipolar with huge mood swings daily. 2 out of 3 psychotic episode he experienced were due to taking drugs/steroids. One episode was caused by reducing AP meds too quickly.
I wonder if any one has become unwell & not used street drugs? Seems they are responsible/contributory factor for a lot of suffering.
Hope today is a brighter day.


I don’t know that I believe that mental health problems are caused by street drugs. I think people would like to believe this is true. It probably doesn’t help the situation though. I can tell you I never used drugs and came down with schizophrenia at 32.


Thank you do much for replying.
I guess I am coloured by what happened to my son & from reading about others.
I know a lot of his friends were doing the same thing & did not develop MH problems.
Maybe this would have happened to my son even without drugs.
Just trying to make sense of it all.
My very best wishes to you


I think its hard to say because its possible they turn to street drugs as a form of self medication. Sort of a chicken or the egg question to know which actually happened first. I think some of things used to self medicate do make their mental illness worse.


I think mental illness has a basic genetic predisposition from what I have read and it can skip generations. I would not say that it is all due to drug abuse. I would agree it is absolutely not helped by it at all and definitely symptoms can be made worse by street drugs or even abuse of prescription meds. I also believe that in an underdeveloped immature brain, any street drug including Marijuana can have an adverse effect on the brain and can in some cases “trigger” a recessive gene for a mental illness for someone predisposed to it. At least that is what I have read and I feel like it applies to my son. He started using pot around 14 and it was not long after that the schizophrenic symptoms began. He was absolutely predisposed to the illness as he has mentally ill relatives on both sides of his family.


Thank you for all your replies.
I agree with all that’s been said.
My very best wishes to you.


I believe street drugs caused my son’s mental illness. He smoked marijuana as a teen. He later did k2 spice. That is when the real trouble started. We think he was huffing too. He is 30 now and unmedicated. He refuses to take antipsychotics. He hates us (his parents) and thinks nothing is wrong with him. He used to be a nice loving son until about age 21.


Mental illness caused by street drugs? Wow. There have been times I sure wished that was the case because I happen to know a whole lot of people who “got straight” from street drugs and were fine, many became upstanding citizens. Ha! Schizophrenia has been an affliction I’m sure since man walked upright. “Madness” as it was referred to in ancient times is well documented through out history. They use to think Demons caused it or that you were possessed. Street drugs? I think they fall into that category. I am sure alcohol, or streets drugs, even some prescribed drugs don’t help the mentally ill. But I have observed this decease for a while now and I have thought to myself that if my “reality” was that “crazy”, I would want to alter it in any fashion that provided some escape from madness. There are no easy answers. Hopefully someday they will understand how schizophrenia happens.


My son used to say he did it (drink alcohol) to get away from the way he was feeling.
I think it was his relief .


Sounds exactly like my son’s story. K2, synthetic marijuana, is his addiction now, that stuff is so bad. He’d also sniff cans of anything that would make him high. Used every drug, he’s 33 now and also won’t see doctor. I also wonder if street drugs caused his sz, but I’ve read that’s not the cause.


There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that cannabis use in younger years increases chances of developing sz in later life.


@Lmr - Do you know what K2 smells like? My son has this odd sent around him sometimes. It is kind of like pot but a very odd scent.


I don’t know what it smells like. Even pot smells different nowadays. My husband thinks it might smell like incense. I hope that your son is not doing it. That is when our trouble started.


@Lmr - Yes I think he is doing it. I am sure I found some in his room in the Fall. I thought it was some weird kind of pot and I guess I was right. Has your son stopped? Another parent on this site said her son was diagnosed sz but is back to normal now and she thinks it was the K2 or Spice or whatever type he took.


Apparently, the street drugs can manifest similar symptoms to sz - like paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety.


My son is 31 now and he doesn’t live with us. He refuses to talk to us so I don’t know what he does. He quit taking medicine about a year and a half ago. I assume he is smoking pot at least since that is what he usually does. We miss him terribly and worry about him constantly. I pray that my son will go back to normal but it hasn’t happened yet.


What is this spice stuff? What does it look like? All these stories sound the same.
Will we ever have a cure for this terrible disease? My son will not quit the drug use cocaine his drug of choice.

Please God help us all.


@roseo Spice/K2 (many other names) is a synthetic pot. It will give people similar side effects that are similar to sz. There is also a synthetic cocaine. Here is one site about the pot, below. I saw one about the synthetic coke yesterday. I will see if I can find it - running to yoga now : )

K2 or Spice is a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material that is typically sprayed with synthetic compounds known as cannabinoids that are chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.


@roseo. Here is the more at a glace article I found yesterday.