Drugs That Cause Paranoia

Did you know mental health conditions and substance use are often interrelated? For example, 37.9 million people who struggle with substance use disorder also have a mental health condition. Sometimes, a person with a mental health condition starts substance use as a way of self-medication. Other times, the substance causes or contributes to a mental health condition.

Many substances can cause paranoia. Paranoia is a mental health condition where a person believes they are being threatened in some way. For example, if someone believes someone is trying to hurt them, they might suffer from paranoia. If you are experiencing paranoia due to substance use, seeking professional substance use treatment will allow you to recover and achieve mental wellness.  

What Is Paranoia?

If you have ever struggled with paranoia, you know it is not the joke people often make it out to be in popular media. It can be frustrating always to believe you’re in danger. Even if you know someone does not want to hurt you, paranoia causes a person to feel that the threat is present and real. 

Symptoms of paranoia include: 

  • Acting defensive, hostile, or aggressive
  • Getting offended easily by comments not meant to cause offense
  • Difficulty relaxing or letting your guard down
  • Inability to forgive, compromise, or accept criticism
  • Inability to trust others
  • Searching for hidden meanings behind the words and actions of others

Addiction And Paranoia

Substance use can be a cause of paranoia. When paranoia results from substance use, it is usually short-term and goes away when the substance leaves a person’s system. However, in some cases, extended periods of heavy substance use can cause paranoia to be more long-lasting. If a person already suffers from paranoia, substance use will negatively contribute to the condition. 


One of the substances that can cause paranoia is Cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant, meaning it causes a person’s system to speed up. Studies show that two out of every three people who use cocaine experience paranoia at some point. Paranoia due to cocaine use can sometimes last for a few weeks. However, paranoia commonly subsides after a few hours. 


Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is another stimulant that can cause paranoia. Individuals who use meth sometimes experience what is known as meth psychosis. This is a state where a person’s thoughts become distorted, and it is hard to know what is real and what is not. Paranoia during meth psychosis is typical. Almost 40% of meth users report that they have experienced meth psychosis. Meth is a commonly used substance in Maricopa County, where the majority of overdose deaths were meth-related in 2019. 

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LSD is a psychedelic substance that causes hallucinations and altered states of consciousness. Altered states of consciousness may  include paranoia. Usually, a person’s paranoia will subside after the LSD wears off. However, it is possible for a person to feel lingering paranoia for weeks after LSD has left their system. 

Bath Salts

Bath Salts are a common name for a type of stimulant similar to methamphetamine. It produces many of the same effects as meth, including paranoia. In addition, a recent study showed that bath salts can produce many adverse psychological effects, including delirium, violent behavior, suicidal ideation, paranoia, and hallucinations. 


Marijuana is a substance that comes from the cannabis plant. Some states, including Arizona, have legalized marijuana, and it is becoming a more frequently used recreational substance. However, this does not mean you will never feel adverse effects from marijuana use. For example, the chemical THC in marijuana can cause a person to feel paranoid, and those who use marijuana are more likely to have feelings of paranoia than those who do not use marijuana. 


Paranoia is often more associated with stimulants like meth or cocaine, but heavy sustained alcohol use can cause paranoia. Alcohol use can contribute to many mental health conditions. Often, men who use alcohol heavily develop a form of paranoia where they believe their romantic partners are cheating on them with no evidence.  

The Types Of Paranoia

There are three types of paranoia. The first is called paranoid personality disorder. It's a mild form of paranoia. Often a person is diagnosed and realizes they have paranoid feelings. Individuals with this diagnosis can live happy and healthy lives with proper mental health treatment

Delusional paranoid disorder is a condition where a person has paranoid beliefs without the presence of other mental health conditions. Someone with this condition will believe something untrue, despite the evidence. For example, there have been cases of a person with delusional paranoid disorder believing they are in a relationship with someone they have never met. 

Paranoid schizophrenia is considered the most severe type of paranoia. This type is characterized by strong delusions, such as believing that you can read the thoughts of other people. Without proper treatment, a person with paranoid schizophrenia will struggle to interact with the world around them. 

Coping With A Paranoid Loved One

Attempting to help a paranoid loved one can be difficult. Remember, it is not your job to fix them. Instead, it is your job to provide love and support. Often, you can not alter their perception of reality. Instead, you can listen, be empathetic, and encourage them to seek treatment. Those living with paranoia can live healthy and productive lives with the proper treatment. 

Treatments For Paranoia Caused By Substance Use

Ending substance use is the best way to end paranoia. If you or a loved one are seeking substance use treatment, Pinnacle Peak Recovery can help. Our staff is equipped to address the root causes of substance use disorder and help individuals cope with symptoms like paranoia.  The team at Pinnacle Peak is ready to create an individualized treatment plan to help you find healing. Contact us today at 877-781-5821 to learn more about how we can create a treatment plan for you!

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FAQs About Drugs That Cause Paranoia

Why do you experience paranoia?

Paranoia is a condition where a person’s ability to assign meaning to life and reason breaks down. Like all mental health conditions, there is not one definitive cause of paranoia. However, many risk factors can contribute to the development of paranoia. The presence of one of these risk factors does not necessarily mean a person will become paranoid, but it increases the likelihood. Some risk factors involved in the development of paranoia include substance use, lack of sleep, stress, memory loss, and other psychological conditions. 

What Drugs Can Send You Into Paranoia?

Substances that can cause a person to become paranoid include alcohol, marijuana, bath salts, LSD, meth, and cocaine. 

Is there any relationship between anxiety and paranoia?

Paranoia is much more severe than anxiety. An anxious person may have an occasional paranoid thought, but paranoia is chronic and causes someone to become detached from reality. Likely, you are not paranoid if you are worried about being paranoid. 

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