Recently there has been great concern in our community around the use of crystal and the risk of psychosis. Speed psychosis is a temporary state brought on by using amphetamines. It can be brought on after a long period of regular speed use or even after one long binge. Speed psychosis can even affect some susceptible people after using the smallest amount of speed.

The main symptom is paranoia (e.g. extreme jealousy, feeling like you’re being followed, feeling like people are plotting against you). This and other symptoms like hallucinations (hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t really there) usually go away after a period of time if you stop using. It is incredibly important to get help early. The longer the illness is left untreated the greater the disruption to a person’s family, friends, study and work. If psychosis is detected early, many problems can be prevented. The early signs that family and friends may notice can include:

– the person’s behaviours may change

– the person’s studies or work deteriorates

– the person becomes more withdrawn or isolated

– the person may be no longer interested in socialising

– the person becomes less active.

These behaviours might be a brief reaction to stressful events in their life. However, they may also be early warning signs of a developing psychosis. It is important that these behaviours are checked out.

It can be very confusing to know where to go for help. Families, partners or friends find it difficult to make the decision to obtain help for lots of reasons. The person experiencing a drug-induced psychosis may not wish to get help or even acknowledge that there is a problem. To them, what they are thinking and feeling is very real. It can be extremely hard to cope alone with a person who is in a psychotic state.

A good place to start is with your local doctor, community health centre or mental health centre. If unsure, you can always contact the NSW Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 9361 8000 for an agency in your local area. They will give you some idea of what to do next and where treatment can be obtained.

Next week we will look at how you should relate to a person who is experiencing a psychosis and how you can assist them through this difficult time.

This information has been adapted from a number of information sheets written by the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC). If you would like further information please go to their website

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug, and no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?

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