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A Case Study of Acute Stimulant-induced Psychosis

Ashley Henning

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine



Psychosis resulting from stimulant overuse is commonly observed in clinical practices today. This is in large part due to the significant increase in attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in recent years, the increase in methamphetamine trafficking, and the prevalence of stimulant use in the day-to-day activities by many of those living in today’s fast-paced society. The current inability to predict those users who will experience stimulant-induced psychosis from those users who will not needs further investigation. In this case study, we examine why one particular stimulant user experiences stimulant-induced psychosis. We give an account of a patient with an acute psychotic episode admitted to the emergency room at a local hospital. During initial evaluation, it was discovered that he had been diagnosed with ADHD one month ago and that the onset of his symptoms was likely related to an overuse of amphetamines. The patient had no personal history or family history of any psychiatric or mood disorders. He had no history of recreational drug use prior to this incident, and had no history of seizures or head trauma. After appropriate pharmacological intervention with antipsychotics and psychological intervention, the patient showed gradual improvement over the next five days of his hospitalization. After the five days, he was allowed to be discharged. We conclude with the cautionary advice that a patient’s susceptibility of experiencing stimulant-induced psychosis should be assessed before prescribing stimulants. In cases where stimulant use is not supervised by a physician, appropriate understanding of management of stimulant-induced psychosis is of utmost importance in order to provide the very best patient education and care.

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