My older brother is someone who began to consume illicit drugs as a pre-teenager. He is now more than forty years of age, 32 at diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. In 2002, he had a nervous breakdown that further revealed problems he had for many years. Off medication, he hallucinates. Several years ago he was hospitalized and given the medical diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. I see a therapist for obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. She mentioned to me that schizophrenia, occurring after so many years is rare. My therapist believes either my brother is actually experiencing drug psychosis or delayed onset of paranoid schizophrenia.
My brother is not normal. Who of us is normal? He began life in the late 1960’s as a beautiful, sweet, angelic looking little boy. His problems began, that he admits, in late 1976-early 1977 when a horrible shock occurred in my family and both our paternal and maternal grandfather died less than one month apart. My brother has often said had this not happened he wouldn’t have sampled drugs. The sad truth is my brother does have slow mental faculties and was good friends with a young man whose father sold drugs. It is impossible to say he would not have tested them.
My brother has tried marijuana, crack, angel dust, and more. He admits to beginning at the age of 12 years, when he is now 42 years old. The combined damage of that much drug intake makes it difficult to confirm if the drugs caused the schizophrenia or if he is suffering from brain damage due to the drugs.
Growing up as a much younger sister to my brother (I am nine years younger) I could only see that he upset my mother and for that, I was angry. In 2002, he was forced to be hospitalized after threatening to rip my braces off due to being convinced the CIA was bugging him through my teeth. Many of his behaviors are very fitting of the paranoid schizophrenia type but typically this condition begins long before age 32 years old when he was diagnosed.
My brother, and I’m keeping his name quiet out of respect, saw many hallucinations when he was in the hospital. One that stands out in memory is a black man with a necklace that said “paw-paw” on it. I am by no means a psychology professional being forced to give up graduate school when my son was born in 2003. However, I can see enough to know his grandfathers’ deaths affected him a great deal. My interpretation is “paw paw” may have been in honor of his deceased grandfather or grandfathers. The black color may have been his mind realizing his “paw paws” are gone. He has stated himself he would have been different had our paternal grandfather not died from adenocarcinoma in 1976.
I love my brother but he is very violent. I worry about what will happen to him when my mother dies, who is currently in stage IV colon cancer. My dad is the only person who can control him and his health is bad as well. The tragedy of his trying those drugs may land him in a mental hospital when our parents are gone and it breaks my heart.
To make this article more interesting and informative, I have elected to list some information on paranoid schizophrenia and drug psychosis.
Substance Abuse Psychotic Disorder
Some people will become dependent on the medication they misuse. When this medication is ceased, withdrawal symptoms began. Other people may ingest medication or chemicals without knowing and suffer withdrawals following this ingestion. The horrible thing is these withdrawals can occur long after the last usage.
Over the counter drugs can be as much of a problem. These drugs may include antihistamines (be very careful using these to sleep), gastrointestinal medications, muscle relaxants, and many more.
For a substance abuse problem to be diagnosed there must be prominent delusions and hallucinations, not unseen in paranoid schizophrenia and medication must be related to the disturbance.
I told my brother’s story to show how difficult it can sometimes be to differentiate drug induced psychosis from a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia. If the symptoms come before the substance abuse, it is more likely to be a psychological problem. Because my brother’s problems began at such an early age, we do not know for certain if he would have had these problems before his substance abuse.
Delusional disorder is another option and accounts for many of the same symptoms as paranoid schizophrenia and long-term drug use. Hallucinations are prominent only in relation to the delusions.
Please stay up with my articles as I plan to discuss the ways substance abuse, schizophrenia, and delusional disorder are treated in future work. Thank you.