Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
Can drugs cause dissociative disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder is a severe form of dissociation characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality traits. These personality states will arise outside of the individual control. Formally referred to as multiple personality disorder and will more often than not occur with substance abuse disorder.

A human’s sense of identity, memories, and feelings make up a massive part of who they are; however, those who suffer from dissociative disorder can have these identities significantly disrupted. This can further lead to severe impairments in many areas of an individual’s life. Substance use disorders are common among individuals who suffer from dissociative disorder and should be treated for a dual diagnosis when in treatment.

What is dissociation disorder?

Dissociation is a term used to refer to the mental process in which a person will unconsciously disconnect or, as the phrase refers to, dissociate from their:

  • Memories
  • Feelings
  • Thoughts
  • Identity

Dissociation, however, is a common phenomenon that all of us would have most likely experienced at some point in our lives. For example, when you travel home from a long day in the office, you would have most likely dissociated on the journey home. Daydreaming is too considered a mild form of dissociation disorder.

What are the symptoms of dissociation disorder?

There are a variety of key characteristics to look out for when it comes to dissociative disorder. Each personality that appears due to the disorder can present itself with its own set of unique:

  • Characteristics
  • Voices
  • Mannerisms

The individual may additionally hear the voices or have multiple internal conversations with the identities. These characteristics may further intrude into the individual’s everyday activities.

The dissociative disorder can be segregated into two types:

Possession Form:

In the possession form, the identities may be rather apparent to other people, the individual who suffers from the disorder may appear as if another person or individual has completely taken over.

Non-possession Form:

In the non-possession form, the identities may not always be so obvious; instead, the symptoms can be somewhat subjective and experienced internally. Individuals suffering from the disorder may feel as though they are watching themselves from afar. They may often do or say things that do not seem to characterize their usual behavior.

Furthermore, individuals who suffer from the dissociative disorder may further experience amnesia, including gaps in their memory from past events and possible lapses in the memory of current events and event learned skills. Other symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Severe headaches
  • Pains
  • Aches
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Self mutation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Hallucinations

How is Dissociative Disorder treated?

The treatment process for individuals who suffer from dissociative disorder aims to:

  • Keep the individual and other people around them safe
  • Relieve symptoms
  • Integrate the different identities into one whole well, functioning identity

The medical professionals and therapists here at Shoreline Sober Living will aim to help the individuals process their memories related to their:

  • Trauma
  • Improve functioning
  • Better relationships
  • Develop coping skills

Talk therapy will often be the primary treatment for individuals who suffer from a dissociative disorder. Therapy can take the form of a group session or an individual session. This will be up to how the individual feels.

Additionally, behavioral therapy can further help individuals who suffer from dissociative disorder to help them be more mindful and reduce their overall adverse reactions to events, environments, and individuals that may remind them of their past traumas.

The types of therapies can include but are not limited to:

Dialectical behavioral therapy:

    • This type of therapy will help individuals with personality disturbances and dissociative symptoms relating to trauma or abuse.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR):

    • The type of therapy treats individuals with flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT):

    • This type of therapy works on adapting dysfunctional feelings, thought patterns, and behaviors.

Family therapy:

    • This type of therapy will aim to educate the family about the individual’s disorder, and they can as a unit cope with it.


    • This will teach the individual how to tolerate their symptom and develop a sense of self-awareness.

Additionally, further treatments can include but are not limited to medication and hypnosis. Prescriptions such as anti-anxiety medicines can treat symptoms in individuals who suffer from a dissociative disorder. Hypnosis can help individuals who suffer from dissociative disorder by allowing them to explore their feelings, thoughts, and memories that are all associated with trauma.

Drug abuse as a cause of dissociative disorder

Several drugs are known to induce dissociative disorders, one of which is marijuana. Additionally, other substances that are known to induce dissociative disorder can include but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription drugs
  • Hallucinogenics

Benzodiazepines, and alcohol are well documented for causing individuals to experience states in which they are not entirely or entirely aware of their actions and often will not remember them later on. Repeated induction of these states can cause an individual to develop a somewhat similar condition to dissociative amnesia.

Hallucinogenic drugs and marijuana have been stated to indicate lingering symptoms of depersonalization and derealization. For individuals who are known to have a history of trauma, their effects of dissociative can be highly intensified and make underlying trauma-related issues harder to identify and treat.

Receive treatment today!

Research has shown that integrated treatment for dual diagnosis individuals is the best approach.

Shoreline Sober Living aims to improve each person’s quality of life when struggling with substance use and/or mental health disorders. We believe that going through recovery alone is complex and unnecessary. Shoreline Sober Living provides professional guidance and support to set you on the right trajectory to achieve long-term sobriety.

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