It is no secret that drug addiction and mental illness are closely linked. About 37% of individuals with a substance use disorder also have some kind of mental illness, which can make recovery more difficult1. In fact, co-occurring disorders like this are precisely why it’s so important to get drug or alcohol addiction treatment from an experienced specialist.
But of course, there are also cases in which a person’s mental health issues are directly connected to their drug use. There are drugs that cause personality changes like depression, anxiety, anger, and paranoia. These substances can damage your mental health — and over time, they can even hurt your relationships with family and friends.
What drugs make you paranoid? Can you avoid paranoia? How can you help loved ones suffering from drug-induced paranoia? Today, let’s take a closer look at this condition and how it affects people with substance use disorders.
What is Paranoia?
Before discussing what drugs make you paranoid, it’s essential to understand what “paranoia” means. Paranoia is a mental state in which a person believes that someone or something is “out to get them.” They might think they’re being followed or that the people in their lives can’t be trusted, even if there is no evidence to support their feelings.
Drugs and Paranoia
While it is true that anyone can feel paranoid from time to time, people who use drugs and alcohol are more likely to experience these feelings when they are high. This is because some substances alter your brain chemistry, which can help facilitate paranoid thoughts and feelings. This makes drugs that make you paranoid particularly harmful, as they can influence your behavior negatively.
For example, individuals experiencing drug-induced paranoia might behave erratically to get away from the person or thing they believe is a threat to them. They might injure themselves, attack people, say hurtful things to loved ones, or do other things that could get them hurt or even arrested.
Signs & Symptoms of Drug-Induced Paranoia
While most substances have the same effects in most people, symptoms like paranoia might manifest differently in every person. This depends on their mental health, drug use, and other factors.
However, there are some symptoms you can watch for to determine whether you or someone you love is suffering from drug-induced paranoia. These include:
- Irrational fear of endangerment
- Hypersensitivity, anger, and suspicion toward others
- An inability to relax
- Controlling behaving or jealousy
- Believing the TV, newspapers, internet, or other sources are sending secret messages
If you or someone you love exhibits these symptoms after using drugs or alcohol, it’s important to help them find treatment before they hurt themselves or someone else. Better Addiction Care can help you find a rehab center that is familiar with drugs that cause personality changes so your loved one can receive care that helps them overcome their addiction and improve their mental state.
What Drugs Cause Personality Changes?
As we mentioned earlier, side effects like paranoia don’t always manifest for everyone who uses drugs or alcohol. Therefore, there’s no definitive answer to which drugs cause paranoia. A drug that may make one person paranoid won’t affect another person at all!
Drugs & Paranoia
However, there are certain drugs that are more likely to facilitate feelings of paranoia. Let’s look at these drugs and how they can affect your mental health.
Cocaine is a stimulant that can produce significant changes in the brain, including the onset of paranoia. Research shows that 68% to 84% of people experience paranoia after using cocaine, and as many as 55% of those paranoid individuals exhibit violent behavior while suffering from paranoid thoughts3.
These statistics show just how important it is to help loved ones who are experiencing drug-induced paranoia. Just over half of these individuals can become violent towards themselves or others, and that could have long-term ramifications for their physical health, their relationship, and much more.
Methamphetamine (along with other amphetamines like Adderall or MDMA) is also known for inducing paranoid thoughts among users. A review of 17 studies found that about 36.5% of people who use meth develop drug-induced psychosis, which is most often characterized by feelings of paranoia4.
Methamphetamine isn’t just a drug that makes you paranoid; studies show that in some cases, methamphetamine use can increase a person’s risk for developing schizophrenia5. This is another reason why getting addiction treatment as soon as possible is so important.
LSD is known as a drug that causes hallucinations — and for many, that is the drug’s main appeal. However, LSD is a drug that can make you paranoid and hallucinate, which can lead to a traumatizing experience.
Bath salts have a reputation as a drug that makes you go insane. This synthetic drug is very similar to meth and other amphetamines, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it also increases paranoia.
A study from the University of Florida found that bath salts induce a psychosis-like effect in the brain similar to schizophrenia, which includes feelings of paranoia6. This means that people using bath salts are very likely to have paranoid thoughts, which can lead to dangerous and “insane” behavior.
Up to this point, we have mainly discussed drugs that stimulate your nervous system and make you feel more awake and jittery. However, stimulants are not the only drugs that make you paranoid; depressants like marijuana are also known for triggering paranoid thoughts.
A UK study found that about 50% of participants reported feeling paranoid after using marijuana7. The study also found that THC (the ingredient that gets you high in marijuana) also increased worry and negative thoughts about oneself for some test subjects.
Alcohol is another depressant that can trigger paranoia, anxiety, and other negative feelings with excessive or prolonged use. People with alcohol-related psychosis may experience paranoia, hallucinations, and erratic behavior.
How to Cope with a Paranoid Drug User
When a loved one is struggling with drug-induced paranoia, your first impulse is to try and help them out of it. This is a loving and well-intentioned idea, but it is essential to remember that addiction and its effects are not easy to fix. The best thing you can do is connect your loved one with a professional who can help them treat both their paranoia and their addiction.
Most people make one of two mistakes when talking with a paranoid friend or loved one: they either dismiss the paranoid person’s feelings or indulge them. Both these tactics come from a good place, but they aren’t practical for dealing with someone who is paranoid.
People who dismiss their loved one’s feelings (by telling them their paranoid beliefs are not true) may be trying to reconnect their loved one with reality. However, this tactic will often make a paranoid person defensive, and it might even make them less likely to trust you.
Conversely, telling your loved one that you believe their paranoid thoughts is also unhealthy and unhelpful. Indulging their paranoia will make the person less likely to accept help later on, as they will have more reason to believe that their paranoia is true.
How can you help a loved one experiencing drug-induced paranoia?
The best thing to do is to tell them that you respect them and their beliefs, but you want them to receive treatment for their addiction. Drug-induced paranoia typically recedes when a person stops using drugs and probably addresses their mental health with a professional. Whether they are at a free/funded rehab, in an outpatient program, or at a privately owned treatment facility, addiction care is the key to getting rid of those paranoid thoughts.
Contact Us to Get Help
Getting help for an addiction is one of the best things you can do for yourself — but finding a program that suits your needs can be overwhelming. At Better Addiction Care, we strive to help you find the perfect program for you or your loved one to start their new, sober life.
Our treatment advisors will work with you to find a program that fits your budget, health needs, recovery goals, and more. We can connect you with various rehab programs, including specialized programs like rehabs for veterans or LGBTQ+ friendly programs. Whether you’re looking for a facility for a court-ordered rehab or simply want to learn more about programs in your area, Better Addiction Care can help you find exactly what you need.
Contact our team today to learn more. We are available 24/7, and calls are always free and confidential. Let Better Addiction Care connect you with the support you need for recovery success!
Call (800) 429-7690 to change your life and stand up to addiction today.
- NIDA. (2018, August 15). Comorbidity: Substance Use and Other Mental Disorders. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/comorbidity-substance-use-other-mental-disorders on May 26, 2022.
- Hartney, E. BSc, MSc, MA, PhD. (2021, April 13). Paranoia Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments. Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-paranoia-personality-disorder-21950 on May 26, 2022.
- W. Alexander Morton, Pharm.D., B.C.P.P. (1999, August). “Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms.” Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181074/ on May 26, 2022.
- Lecomte, T. (2018, May 17). “The prevalence of substance-induced psychotic disorder in methamphetamine misusers: A meta-analysis.” Psychiatry Res. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30041133/ on May 26, 2022.
- Li, H. MD, PhD. (2014, February). “Methamphetamine Enhances the Development of Schizophrenia in First-Degree Relatives of Patients With Schizophrenia.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4079234/ on May 26, 2022.
- Colon-Perez, L. et al. (2016, March 21). “The Psychoactive Designer Drug and Bath Salt Constituent MDPV Causes Widespread Disruption of Brain Functional Connectivity.” Neuropsychopharmacology. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/npp201640 on May 26, 2022.
- Freeman, D. et al. (2015). “How cannabis causes paranoia: Using the intravenous administration of Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to identify key cognitive mechanisms leading to paranoia.” Schizophrenia Bulletin. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbu098 on May 26, 2022.
Ready to Get Help?
Let our team of Addiction Counselors help find the Right Rehab for You!