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kneesox's avatar

Have you ever known anyone who actually came to realize and understand that he'd been affected mentally by using drugs?

Asked by kneesox (4593points) February 22nd, 2022

Dealing with someone who has what I (as a layperson) would call paranoid delusions—knowing he is a heavy drug user and has been for a long time—can someone like him ever get to the place where he sees that he was wrong, those things never actually happened?

Does anyone who’s there ever regain that much rationality?

Or is he always going to be rigidly and belligerently certain that his cockeyed view of things is the one and only right one, and anyone who sees them differently is against him?

I’m pretty much through with trying to argue and reason, but I am damned worn down just from being harangued by these many weird beliefs and absolute certainties. Especially when I come in for accusation and blame on account of them. Would be grateful for some hope if there is any.

Thank you.

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17 Answers

SergeantQueen's avatar

Can someone like him ever get to the place where he sees that he was wrong, those things never actually happened?

With the help of therapy, possibly. But not possible by himself, or with you helping him. That’s not an attack against you, he just needs a trained professional.

Does anyone who’s there ever regain that much rationality?
Possibly, but also maybe not. If he was a heavy drug user then its more likely he wouldn’t really regain it.

I can’t give a good answer, I am not a professional. I do know that drug use seriously messes with the brain, and some people have serious, life long issues because of past drug use.

He may be able to get better to some extent with the help of therapy and meds, but obviously any serious damage may just be permanent.

filmfann's avatar


Further comments withheld.

seawulf575's avatar

I have known someone. My daughter. Heavy drug user, had her entire set of fantasies and her life spiraled down to the dirt. She managed to get clean and to turn her life around. It is possible. Just very difficult and fraught with hurdles.

The wife and I went to Nar-anon meetings briefly…meetings for the families and loved ones of those addicted to drugs. Every story we heard was the same except some of the details changed slightly. And there were only one of two endings. Here is the story: Loved one started using drugs and started falling apart. Their life started spiraling. The parents/friends tried to help. They tried reasoning and bargaining with the drug user. They try getting them into rehab, they try keeping them out of jail, etc. The more they tried to help the worse the user got. Eventually the parents/loved ones hit the point where they realize they cannot do enough to help turn this person’s life around. So they finally tell that person they can no longer do it and the user needs to move out and deal with life on their own. At that point the two endings come in. The first is that the user goes out and realizes how screwed up they are and they seek the help they need. They eventually get themselves clean and come back to the parent/loved one to tell them that being tossed out on their ear was the best thing that ever happened to them. The other ending is that they go off and overdose and die. There are very few in-betweens.

The point is that you will never break through to them with logic or reason. The drugs mess up their minds immensely. The more you try to help, the more you enable them. You take away some of the negative consequences. They have to decide whether they want to get better or not. Even court ordered rehab doesn’t usually work. The users go to put in their time and then go right back to using…if they ever really quit. One thing that we did that helped our daughter was to have her arrested for stealing all my wife’s jewelry. If she was arrested for drugs, she would have been right back out on the street. Being arrested for larceny kept her in jail where she was removed from the drugs and all the social triggers that made her want to use. It was 50 days of being forced to be clean. When she got out she started to go right back to the old lifestyle. I caught on right away and told her I was done. She had to make a choice there and then. She could go with her drugs and her friends and she could go with my blessing, but she couldn’t do it living with us. Or she could stay with us and we would help her get turned around and would be there with her all the way. But she couldn’t do both…not even a little. All I asked was that if she chose to go with the drugs and the friends to tell me whether she wanted to be buried or cremated. It was a gamble but she chose to get clean.

Another thing you have to try to figure out is why that person is using. Don’t bother asking, they won’t be able to tell you the whole truth. With my daughter it all stemmed back to low self-esteem. She kept hooking up with the damaged guys who dragged her down the rabbit hole. In her mind, she knew they were damaged goods but felt that if she could fix them that would show she had worth. One of the things we had to do was convince her otherwise. But everyone is different and have different triggers. We got lucky (and blessed) that we managed to figure this out. Now she is something like 5 years clean.

HP's avatar

I assume all of us know such people. I’m peculiarly situated in being relatively isolated from opioid or speed abuse, but I took some poignant lessons from the cocaine deluge of the 80s. I have vivid memories of so many people, the great majority of them professional and well heeled whose lives went down the toilet while the debate raged over whether or not coke was addictive. It was a staggering thing to witness and live through. My impression is that it is exceedingly rare that people successfully wean themselves from narcotics once a habit is established. It usually isn’t that they don’t understand that they’re addicted. It’s the belief that they convince themselves that if they can present the appearance of control, they are in fact on top of it.

smudges's avatar

Your question is: Have you ever known anyone who actually came to realize and understand that he’d been affected mentally by using drugs?

Yes, me. But I didn’t know I’d been affected by them and alcohol until I’d been clean for 6 months to a year. At that point I slowly began realizing how much I’d been affected – I could think clearly and be rational! Things made sense again. My brain could process! My brain functioning had been bad but I hadn’t known it! I don’t really know how to describe it, even to myself. There was just this shock and I was like, “oh my god! I really wasn’t in my right mind!” It blew me away to realize just how much I’d been affected, and how long it took my brain to begin functioning normally again – almost a year before I saw the real me again. It was like an awakening. I wish I could put into words the amazement and shock I felt. And I continued having moments like that for a few years.

So yes, I believe it’s possible to come back, but some people cannot simply because there’s too much damage to their brains. That’s not to say they can’t get and stay clean, and the paranoia and delusions would likely go away (just guessing here), but their brains may not be like they were before they ever began using.

My heart is sad for your friend. No one knows what they’re really getting into until they’re in it, and often by then it’s too late. People who think they’re different and can handle it are just fooling themselves.

raum's avatar

I think this question could be rephrased as “Have you ever known anyone who overcame addiction?”

There’s no reasoning with them, while they are still in the throes of it.

But the answer is yes.

kneesox's avatar

@raum, no, it couldn’t, and it doesn’t need rephrasing. I’m not asking about recovery from addiction. I am asking explicitly about delusions caused by drugs, paranoid delusions. Recognizing later that they were delusions and not real events.

For ex., somebody is breaking into his car every day (even while he is sleeping in it) and stealing small, trivial items just to harass him; or that he was abducted by three strangers and his car stolen, when according to police it spent the night (unoccupied) in a mall parking lot while he was wandering around on foot in another part of town, having imaginary conversations with his kidnappers.

The question is: has someone you know come to realize that those events never happened, that he was in a drug-induced hallucination? Or, even when sober, is he still going to think those things were real?

Not every user has those.

I’m really grateful for the frank and unsparing answers above.

raum's avatar

@kneesox Unless they have an underlying psychiatric condition, I would think the delusions would resolve on its own once they’re sober.

smudges's avatar

@raum But that’s not the question she’s asking – not: does the average joe think the delusions will resolve, but does anyone know someone who’s experienced their normal brain function to return.

raum's avatar

@smudges My suggestion isn’t about it what the average joe thinks? My suggestion is that the delusions are often related to their addiction.

kneesox's avatar

I’ll try one more time.

Addict today: “Somebody got into my car while I was sleeping in it and it was locked and jam-packed full of all my belongings in every possible space. This intruder sabotaged the zippers of my four little pencil cases by rubbing dirt on the zippers so I would have to wash them, and poisoning the zippers with mace so that when I washed them my fingers would burn. And I can prove it because my fingers are burning now, and there’s the dirty water I washed them in, as you can see. And only one person in the world would have done this to me, so that’s how I know who did it, and I’m going to call the cops and he will go to jail for a long, long time.”

Addict after 5 years of being clean and sober: A or B?

A: “Yeah, I was high a lot then and might have done some weird stuff, but I can still say for certain that I know he got into my car while I was sleeping…” etc.


B. “I must have been out of my mind. I know now that nobody could have got in my car while I was there, asleep or awake, never mind soiling and poisoning the zippers of four pencil cases just to bedevil me. It was all a delusion, one of many. I see that now, even though at the time I thought it was real.”

Do you know anybody who has experienced option B? That’s my question, and not what causes the delusions or anything else.

raum's avatar

Dude. You’re being unnecessarily condescending. I understood and answered your question as stated.

“But the answer is yes.”

Given that your topics include “mental health” and “possibility of recovery”, my response is on topic and relevant to your question.

Possibility of recovery depends on underlying cause.

I’ve known people who have recovered and can look back at their actions with a clearer mind. I’ve known people who have recovered from addiction, but still struggle with other mental health issues. And others who never recovered.

raum's avatar

Okay, I really shouldn’t Fluther when I’m stressed out. Let me apologize and rewind a bit.

Yes. For the most part, most of the people I know who manage to sober up understand that using affected them mentally.

The exceptions to this have been people who are struggling with other mental health issues. And I don’t just mean people who were paranoid to begin with. There are so many ways that mental health issues can make it hard for people to look back with clarity.

Hope that makes sense?

seawulf575's avatar

@kneesox When my daughter finally decided she wanted to get clean, she want to do it with her boyfriend. She was sure their “love” would help them through. EVERY expert will tell you that is a horrible idea since you give each other triggers that remind you of your addiction and make you want to continue it and it gives you someone who will support your ideas of falling off the wagon. When we finally convinced her she had to do it alone, she was truculent. But after she was clean she told us that was the best thing…not doing it with him. She admitted they never would have made it together.

Lee_antony's avatar

From my personal experience yes, But! It can take a lifetime depending how entrenched the paranoid delusions have become.
30 yeas ago I had a psychotic breakdown while tripping on Acid. During that hideous trip I came to believe in many delusional consepsts that I am only now emerging from.

It really does depend on two main things.

1 how willing is the individual to see life beyond the peramiters of their own ideas. (If it is grounded in fear and paranoia this isn’t likely, unless they learn to see the value of being released from the fear)

2. How deeply entrenched is the delusion and reinforced is the delusional belief by the stimulus serounding them. The stronger the entrenchment of the delusion the harder it is to overcome… especially if it is being reinforced by the situations and experiences of their lives.

If they are open to change cognitive behavioural therapy is a good place to start. However, if I am honest it was finding Jesus that set me truly free… so it depends on the individual person to what will work best for them.

I hope this helped in some way… also I recommend for yourself looking into understanding boundaries, enabling and the dangers of codependency. Paranoid behaviour has and impact on the mental well-being of those around it also.

God bless and all the best.

filmfann's avatar

@Lee_antony Welcome to Fluther!

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