Often times working with families, their loved ones experience a disruption to their thoughts, feelings and perceptions that makes it difficult to differentiate between things that aren’t real or having strange or persistent thoughts. For example, a young adult is convinced someone is following them or someone is after them or hears voices in her head. All in all, it is worrisome, frightening and confusing.

According to Nami it is much more commonplace than you may think. It happens to about 100,000 young adults in a year or 1 out of every 3 people will experience during their lifetime.

Early intervention is important; however, sometimes it is complicated by delusions, fear, stigma and feeling unsettled.  This makes it very hard for families who are trying to do this alone.

Our team helps families whose loved one’s experience both substance abuse and display signs of psychosis.

Some of the early warning signs of psychosis that families can look for are:

  • Drop in grade or job performance
  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Suspiciousness or paranoia towards others
  • Hearing voices
  • Strong inappropriate emotions or no feelings at all
  • A decline in personal appearance a d hygiene

Psychosis usually involves a range of symptoms yet typically involves one or two major experiences, such as:

  • Hallucinations are seeing hearing things that aren’t there
  • Hearing voices
  • Strange sensations or unexplainable feelings
  • Seeing glimpses of objects that aren’t there
  • Delusions or strong beliefs. You may believe you have special powers


Several factors are likely involved. We do know that teenagers and young adults are at increased risk of experiencing an episode of psychosis because of hormonal changes in their brain during puberty.

According to NAMI Several factors that can contribute to psychosis:

Genetics – Many genes can contribute to the development of psychosis, but just because a person has a gene doesn’t mean they will experience psychosis. Ongoing studies will help us better understand which genes play a role in psychosis.
Trauma – A traumatic event such as a death, war or sexual assault can trigger a psychotic episode. The type of trauma—and a person’s age—affects whether a traumatic event will result in psychosis.
Substance use – The use of marijuana, LSD, amphetamines , marijuana and other substances can increase the risk of psychosis in people who are already vulnerable.
Physical illness or injury – Traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, strokes, HIV and some brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia can sometimes cause psychosis.
Mental health conditions Sometimes psychosis is a symptom of a condition like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder or depression.

When working with families whose loved ones are abusing substances as well as experiencing symptoms of psychosis, we work to move them to change and a willingness to accept help from a team of behavioral health specialists who are well versed in both mental health and substance use disorders.

These facilities will typically provide a robust assessment, in patient residential ; treatment, medication management, family support and education, psychotherapy, trauma along with peer support, life skill training, help with reintegrating the loved (oftentimes supportive housing) one back to the community.

What is most important for families to know that there is hope and there is a solution.


  • Louise Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CDWF, CIP

    Writer, Speaker, Clinician, Interventionist

    Dr. Louise Stanger founded All About Interventions because she is passionate about helping families whose loved ones experience substance abuse, mental health, process addictions and chronic pain. She is committed to showing up for her clients and facilitating lasting change so families are free from sleepless, worrisome nights. Additionally, she speaks about these topics all around the country, trains staff at many treatment centers, and develops original family programs. In 2018, Louise became the recipient of the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House Excellence in Service Award. She most recently received the Interventionist of the Year Award from DB Resources in London and McLean Hospital - an affiliate of Harvard University, in 2019. To learn more, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDf5262P7I8 and visit her website at allaboutinterventions.com.