A study found that people who use the illegal party drug speed are five times more likely to have psychosis at some point in their lives.
Amphetamine, which is popular in rave culture, has also been linked to an increased risk of a host of other mental illnesses, including depression.
The researchers studied medical records and surveys of more than 250,000 people in Taiwan over a 10-year period.
People who said they used speed were five times more likely to experience paranoia, voices, and hallucinations compared to people who had never tried the drug.
Users were also five times more likely to become depressed and three times more likely to suffer from anxiety compared to non-users.
Researchers at the Caotong Psychiatric Center in Nantou and the Chinese Medical University in Taichung believe the drug causes psychosis by interrupting brain signaling.
The speed works by stimulating the central nervous system, causing the release of dopamine in large quantities. Some people take it because it gives them the energy to dance for hours without getting tired.
But it can also prevent users from sleeping, as lack of sleep is thought to be one of the factors that cause hallucinations. The symptoms of psychosis resolve within hours or days for most, but may persist for years in as many as one in seven users.
A study of more than 250,000 people in Taiwan found that amphetamine, which can make people feel alert and energetic, increases the risk of paranoia, voices, and hallucinations. Amphetamine (pictured), also known as speed, is usually an off-white powder that is inhaled.
Researchers at the Caotong Psychiatric Center in Nantou and the Chinese Medical University in Taichung found that those who took AIDS were 5.28 times more likely to experience symptoms of psychosis than those who did not take drugs. This increased the rate of psychosis to 486 cases per 100,000 amphetamine users, compared to 77 cases per 100,000 in the control group. The graph shows the number of cases of psychosis reported among amphetamine users (red line) and non-amphetamine users (green line) during the year of the study.
The team examined the medical records of 74,601 people who had taken amphetamines using Taiwan’s national database of drug users, which included information on age, gender, detention and rehabilitation history.
They compared the health status of 298,404 drug-free people who were in the research database over the same period.
WHAT IS PSYCHOSIS?
People with psychosis experience hallucinations that make them see and hear things that are not happening and suffer from delusions.
This can cause serious distress in patients and change their behavior.
The condition is often caused by psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression.
It can also be caused by traumatic experiences, stress, drug or alcohol abuse, certain medications, or a brain tumor.
Doctors prescribe neuroleptics to relieve the symptoms of psychosis and also provide therapy.
The results, published in the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health, show that those who used AIDS were 5.28 times more likely to experience psychotic symptoms than those who did not use drugs.
This increased the rate of psychosis to 486 cases per 100,000 amphetamine users, compared to 77 cases per 100,000 in the control group.
In addition to drug abuse, psychosis can also be caused by psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, as well as traumatic experiences, stress, medication, and brain tumors.
They also found that people who took amphetamine, which is one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in Taiwan, had poorer overall health.
This group was more likely than the general population to suffer from depression (2 percent compared to 0.4 percent) and anxiety (0.9 percent compared to 0.3 percent).
Speed users were also at higher risk of heart disease (1.3% compared to 0.8%), cardiovascular disease (0.8% compared to 0.5%) and stroke (1.3% compared to 0.7%).
The study was observational, the researchers could not find out whether amphetamine causes psychosis.
They noted that the drug could exacerbate pre-existing symptoms of schizophrenia.
The study also didn’t take into account how often people used the rate or dose they were taking. But higher doses and frequent use are associated with a stronger change in psychosis.
It found that people who were arrested multiple times for drug possession were 6.25 times more likely to suffer from psychosis, while those in rehab had a 26% lower risk.
And women were 7.49 times more likely to suffer from symptoms. The team said this could be due to hormonal differences, as estrogen can increase the risk of psychosis and testosterone can suppress it.
Women may also be at greater risk of psychosis as they are more disadvantaged, have higher levels of trauma and receive less psychological support, the researchers said.