Vancouver/Richmond EPI
Early Psychosis Intervention

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Does this illness mean I'm "crazy"?
The symptoms you are experiencing are part of a biological or physical problem and do not change who you are as a person.

What are the medication side-effects?
Generally, doctors try to treat your symptoms with low doses of medication. They will work with you to find medication that is comfortable for you. For more information about side effects and medication, please see the Treatment and Recovery section.

How long do I have to stay on meds (for the rest of my life?)
This is one of the most asked questions that we hear. I can't give you a definite answer; everyone is different. This is something to discuss with your physician and treatment team. Some people are recommended to remain on medication for a year after symptoms have cleared up, others may need to stay on longer and others, life long. See the section on Treatment of Psychosis.

When can I go back to work/get a job/return to school?
Most people are able to return to work or school after experiencing a psychosis. Some people are able to continue at work or school while in treatment, others need to take some time out to recover. It's a difficult question to answer because everyone is different, and everyone's experience is unique. However, most Early Psychosis programs have counselors that work with people to support their goals and in Vancouver and Richmond there are several programs that help people to achieve their vocational goals. Secondary school counselors work with students to help them be successful in their learning and post secondary schools have special counselors that will work with you.

What do I say if my friends find out I'm taking medication?
That's a great question. A lot of people have this concern. They're worried what people will think if they know about their illness. Many people are surprised by the amount of support that they receive from others. One thing that is helpful is to speak with others who have gone through a similar experience. At EPI, we run classes to talk about these kinds of issues. It gives you a chance to meet others who are recovering or who have recovered from psychosis and to find out how they are managing and what solutions and strategies they have come up with.

Will I get addicted to the medications?
Medications prescribed for psychosis, depression and bipolar illness are not addictive. However, we do not recommend that you stop taking them suddenly as sometimes people will experience some physical discomfort. What we do recommend is that you work with your physician and follow their recommendations when you and your treatment team have agreed to discontinue a medication. Generally, medication dosage is slowly decreased over weeks, sometimes months and you will be taught what signs of a return of symptoms to watch for. See the section on Treatment of Psychosis.

Can I still drink/use marijuana and other street drugs with the medications?
We will recommend that you do not drink alcohol with medication. Alcohol can have a harmful interaction with some medication. It also tends to increase side effects so that if you medication makes you feel drowsy, having a drink will make you even more tired. You certainly don't want to drive a car or use machinery if you are taking medication and using any alcohol!Some street drugs like amphetamines (e.g. crystal meth) can cause psychosis. Other, like marijuana may bring on psychotic symptoms in people who are at risk for a psychotic illness (e.g. family history). At the same time, we realize that young people do use alcohol and street drugs and we think it is important that you be honest about your use. That way, we can work together to find the best possible treatment. See the section on Alcohol and Drugs.

Will I be forced to go to hospital?
Our goal at EPI is to work with you in the community. Hospital is reserved for those who are finding that their symptoms are just too overwhelming to manage on their own and need some extra support and a reduction in life's daily stressors. In British Columbia, the Mental Health Act allows a physician by law to require a person to go to hospital if their illness is so severe that they are not able to care for themselves, are at risk of harming themselves or at risk of harming others. If this should happen, you would have a right to appeal this decision. Please see the Resource Section of this website for more information.

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