Having worked with thousands of people recovering from addictions, I’ve seen a wide variety of behaviours that are the results of recreational drug abuse. One of the most prominent and recurring experiences that people present with is post-drug-induced paranoia.
Last week a man telephoned my office to ask about hypnotic services for recovering from a cocaine addiction. Having been given the details of our programs and how we could help him, he then became very aggressive on the telephone, telling me how he did not trust us, that we were trying to rip him off and that all health professionals were just crooks.
He was very angry and talked continuously without listening to anything I said to him. He was so paranoid he actually was unable to hear anything. Eventually he began swearing and slammed the phone down.
The behaviour did not disturb me because as a mental health professional I recognised it as post-drug-induced paranoia in which he trusted no one or nothing.
After you have been taking amphetamine-like drugs for while you begin to be very afraid of the world and everyone you meet.
The brain knows you are in trouble but tricks you into believing that everything around you is a potential threat and dangerous.
The more drugs you take and the longer you take them, the greater becomes the risk of post-drug-induced paranoia.
Of course everyone reacts differently but all long-term recreational drug taking leads to loss of cognitive functioning and the ability to judge the world around you and control your emotions.
Eventually you will generally become aggressive, withdraw from the world, fall out with people around you, get into fights, argue and, if guns are available, you may even shoot someone in a state of heightened paranoia and aggression.
Drug-related offences connected to violence and aggression are high. This a particular problem with drugs such as ice or ketamine.
So do non-amphetamine-type recreational drugs such as MDMA, LSD, marijuana, opium or heroin induce less paranoia?
The answer is no, because all these drugs create a euphoric state of altered awareness and where there is an up, there is always a down. During the down, withdrawal and post-drug state, people go into the fight or flight response when they can become aggressive, hostile and paranoid.
The only way to treat this level of paranoia is to stop taking drugs and work with a mental health professional to restore normal cognitive function.
For the majority of people this is possible, but for an unfortunate few they may be long-term brain damaged from the extended drug abuse.
You may need professional help and support to stop taking those drugs and should seek that out immediately. You will of course need to be 100 percent committed to changing in your life and honest and open with the professionals you choose to work with.
The longer you leave it, the worse the drug-induced paranoia may become, so take action as soon as you become aware you are paranoid, want to change and do your best to trust those professionals.
To do list:
- Stop taking the drugs
- Get professional help to assist you to stop taking the drugs
- Work with a mental health professional to restore normal thinking
- Begin to lead a healthier life
- Get a professional support network
- Ask the people around you to support you
Need help overcoming drug addiction? Book an appointment with me at my Sydney clinic on 02 8021 6429 or get my downloadable Drug and Alcohol Recovery Hypnosis: 6-Step Program
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath In Sydney. You can get help by booking an appointment with her at Australian Health & Education Centre.