Am I mental? In search of information on drug induced psychosis –  by “Soul Traveler”

Am I mental? In search of information on drug induced psychosis – by “Soul Traveler”

Posted On: April 19, 2011
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Comments: 4 Responses


As someone who condones psychedelics, I am concerned that I might be considered a proponent for people using drugs irresponsibly and finding themselves in a psychiatric hospital on (prescribed) anti-psychotics and diagnosed with ‘mental-illness’. So I’m interested to know more about which drugs are the main culprits for causing psychosis. However, I’m having difficulty getting this information and am hoping you can help.

A bit about me; I’m a 33 year old university educated (Bachelor of Psychology) and have studied several other subjects (yoga, energy healing, meditation, theology, tarot). Early in my twenties I became depressed as I began to discover the drab and monotonous realities of our Western society. My first drug was cannabis, soon after I experimented with ecstasy. After these drug experiences I began to feel connected to my own body for the first time, but also to the tribe and culture of the underground electronic music scene. Soon after I tried LSD and magic mushrooms for the first time in my life. These substances really blew my mind – they opened me up to the existence of ‘the other’. I had encounters with nature spirits and started to feel connected to the whole. I no longer feared death and started to open up to my spiritual side. Following this transition through psychedelics I began my studies of meditation which lead to a more meaningful and disciplined life. Eventually, I was inspired to go back to university, where to my surprise, I felt more engaged to my studies, and I was able to complete my degree with better results.

Admittedly, for a time there I was very wild and irresponsible, but these days I feel much more balanced, and I have a deep understanding of my connection to the world and of spirituality. In the last couple of years I tried DMT for the first time. My DMT trip was incredible; I didn’t expect it to be so vivid. The experience hangs vividly in my mind to this day, and it has imparted a wordless wisdom to my life which has permeated my meditations, dreams and waking life.

Over the years I met many interesting people through the psychedelic trance scene. Most of the other ‘trippers’ that I met, while they were undoubtedly eccentric individuals, were very switched on people who were connected to a greater sense of existence like me, but also had good self-knowledge and a strong connection to nature. However, in the scene, there was often the odd one or two who displayed socially unacceptable behaviour and/or had ‘lost contact with reality’. They were never what I’d call dangerous people; they were just more outside the norm and had some difficulty being congruous participants of our civilised society.

This brings me to a central question I have about psychosis and mental illness: Are these people suffering from illness or do they perhaps perceive and interpret reality differently to the rest of us? Are they out of sync with us? Or is it us that are out of sync with them?

While psychedelic drugs tend to get all the press as triggers of psychosis, some web based research threw up a few surprises:

1. I’ve found out that alcohol is also a trigger for psychosis (along with cannabis and amphetamines)
2. Some pharmaceuticals are also triggers (i.e. anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, cold and flu tabs, and even some anti-psychotics themselves!)

So what I’m really interested in, is a chart that plots the incidence of hospitalisations for psychosis against the known factors and/or substances that were identified as triggering the episode (expressed as a percentage). Does this research exist? Can anyone help?

It seems to me that the common view in society is that drugs are prohibited because they make people crazy. But there seems to be a strong lack of evidence to support this argument. Perhaps some of the more well-versed members of the community can help me to shed some more light on this subject? I believe it would be useful to actually understand the reality of how these substances affect people before we continue to draw conclusions that aren’t based on any concrete evidence.

Yours faithfully,

Soul Traveler,

P.S. You can download some interesting research on psychosis at this link.