What Drugs Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness?

Drugs are substances that affect the body’s nervous system. They can be natural or synthetic.

What Drugs Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness?

Some drugs are legal, such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and aspirin, while others are illegal, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and LSD.

There are several types of drug abuse, ranging from mild recreational use to severe addiction. The most common type of drug abuse is substance abuse.

Substance abuse refers to using a drug repeatedly or in large amounts.

It may include taking more than prescribed, buying drugs on the street, stealing them, or selling them for profit. 

Drug abuse also includes abusing prescription medications by taking too much, mixing it with other substances, or taking it without a doctor’s approval.

Keep on reading to find out what drugs can cause permanent mental illness.

Can Drugs Cause Permanent Mental Illness?

Drugs can cause permanent mental illness when they are used in high doses over long periods of time.

These effects occur because the brain changes after repeated exposure to certain drugs. 

For example, some people who take amphetamines develop an uncontrollable urge to continue using these stimulants. This condition is called amphetamine psychosis.

Other drugs can cause permanent mental illnesses if they are taken at extremely high dosages (more than what is normally recommended) or if they are abused.

What Drugs Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness?

The following drugs have been associated with causing permanent mental illnesses:


Drinking alcohol causes temporary mental health problems.

However, drinking alcohol in excess can lead to serious physical and psychological consequences, including liver disease, heart disease, thyroid problems, and memory loss.

In addition, chronic heavy drinkers often experience depression, anxiety, and mood swings.


Taking amphetamines in high doses can cause amphetamine psychosis.

People who develop this condition feel compelled to keep taking the drug even though it makes them sick.


Using cocaine can cause paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. These symptoms usually go away after a few weeks.

However, cocaine users sometimes have withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug.


Smoking marijuana can make you feel relaxed and happy. But smoking too much of it can cause short-term memory loss, confusion, and drowsiness.

Long-term use of marijuana has been linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.


Taking opioids, such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and methadone, can produce euphoria and relief from pain.

Overdose can result in respiratory failure, coma, and death.

Stimulant Drugs 

Taking stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine, ecstasy, and Ritalin, can increase your energy level and improve concentration.

However, taking too many stimulant drugs can cause agitation, insomnia, and irritability.

Specifically, the following are examples of drugs that can cause permanent mental illness:

  • Amphetamines, including methamphetamine.
  • Barbiturates, especially phenobarbital.
  • Benzodiazepines, including Valium and Ativan.
  • Cocaine.
  • Opioid medications, including heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Percocet, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Fentanyl, and Methadone.
  • Stimulant drugs, including cocaine, speed, and crystal meth.
  • Tobacco.
  • Alcohol.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information about drugs and substance abuse.

NIDA also offers information for parents, caregivers, and teachers about how to prevent drug abuse among children and teens.

How Do I Know If My Family Member Has A Problem With Drugs?

If you suspect that someone in your family has a problem with drugs, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does he or she seem depressed?

2. Is he or she acting strangely?

3. Is he or she having trouble sleeping?

4. Are his or her grades slipping?

5. Is he or she doing poorly in school?

6. Is he or she spending more money than usual?

7. Is he or she missing work because of illness?

8. Is he or she getting into fights at school?

9. Is he or she using drugs?

10. Is he or she abusing alcohol?

Drugs Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness

What Drugs Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness?

Drugs can cause permanent mental illness by changing the way the brain works. The brain controls all body functions through nerve cells known as neurons.

Neurons communicate with each other by sending electrical signals across tiny gaps between them.

When a neuron sends an electric signal, it causes muscles to contract or relax. This is called neurotransmission.

Neurotransmitters control the flow of information within the nervous system. They help the brain send messages to other parts of the body.

Neurotransmitters include dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, acetylcholine, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, glycine, histamine, orexin, and thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH).

Neurotransmitter imbalances can lead to changes in behavior.

For example, if there is too little dopamine in the brain, people may become apathetic and lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Too much dopamine can make people feel hyperactive and restless.

When a person takes certain drugs, these chemicals change the way the brain’s neurotransmitters function.

These chemical changes can alter the way the brain processes information, which can have long-term effects on mood, memory, thinking, and behavior.

Some drugs affect only one type of neurotransmitter while others affect multiple types. Some drugs affect the same neurotransmitter in different ways at different doses.

For example, some drugs block the action of dopamine at low doses but stimulate it at high doses.

Other drugs increase the amount of dopamine available to transmit signals throughout the brain.

Some drugs act directly on the brain itself. Others are broken down in the liver before entering the bloodstream.

Still others enter the bloodstream without being broken down.

What Is Psychosis? 

Psychosis means “insanity”. It usually refers to a loss of contact with reality.

People who experience psychosis often hear voices, see things that aren’t really there, or believe things that aren’t true.

Sometimes people with psychosis think their thoughts are those of another person. In addition, they may be unable to tell right from wrong.

People with psychotic disorders sometimes have problems controlling their emotions.

They may also have difficulty making decisions. They may not recognize friends or relatives when they meet them.

The Effect Of Drugs On People Struggling With Mental Illness

Many mentally ill people take medications to treat symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, agitation, depression, anxiety, mania, insomnia, aggression, and suicidal thoughts.

If you know someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or any other condition, ask about medication use.

Here are some examples of how drugs affect people with mental illnesses:


These drugs reduce the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Antipsychotic drugs are commonly prescribed for treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe forms of manic depression.

Anti-anxiety Medications

These drugs work by blocking certain receptors in the brain. The most common anti-anxiety medications are benzodiazepines, including Valium and Xanax, and antidepressants like Prozac.

Mood Stabilizers

These drugs keep the levels of certain neurotransmitters balanced in the brain. Mood stabilizers include lithium, anticonvulsant, and antipsychotics.

Sleep Aids

These drugs help regulate sleep patterns. Examples include Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, Restoril, Trazodone, and Triazolam.

Depression Treatments

These drugs target specific areas of the brain to restore balance. Examples include Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Cymbalta, and Remeron.

Anxiety Treatments

These drugs can relieve anxiety by targeting specific parts of the brain. Examples include Buspar, Klonopin, Ativan, Seroquel, Abilify, and Clozaril.

Bipolar Disorder Treatments

These drugs are used to prevent episodes of mania or depression. Examples include Depakote, Lamictal, Zyprexa, Lithobid, Neurontin, Tegretol, Depakene, and Serzone.

Final Thoughts

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s mental health, it is important to discuss this issue openly and honestly.

Be sure to get professional advice if you feel that your loved one needs treatment.

Tom Anderson