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Recently released phone records shed new light on Austin Harrouff’s mental health at the time of the murders, with many believing drugs and drug-induced psychosis played a major role in the infamous 2016 event. Harrouff’s lawyers are portraying their client as a young man struggling with mental illness, but the victim’s family’s lawyers are citing drugs as a contributing factor to the 2016 incident.1 Our residential mental health treatment team explores the possibility of drug-induced psychosis in this case.
Newly released cell phone records show that Harrouff made arrangements to buy psychotic mushrooms, aka shrooms, before the attack. His search history at the same time showed searches for “how to know if your [sic] going crazy,” and “exploding head syndrome.” The combination of these searches and text messages has many believing that drug-induced psychosis may have contributed to the 2016 attacks.1 Hours before the murders, Harrouff’s father texted him and asked if his son had thrown drugs out. 2
The defense may try to portray the Austin Harrouff murders as a result of insanity, specifically clinical lycanthropy, a syndrome in which the affected has delusions that may make them think they’ve been transformed into an animal. A report on Austin Harrouff’s mental health states that there is no evidence he was under the influence of psychotropic drugs at the time of the murders, but authorities did not test for drugs such as psilocybin, the active substance in shrooms, because the FBI does not have a validated method to use in testing for this substance. Additionally, testing for drugs in Harrouff’s system was not performed until around 24 hours after the attack due to warrant wait times, and hallucinogenic drugs like psilocybin leave a user’s system within 12 hours.
Time will tell the outcome of the infamous Harrouff murder case when the case goes to trial later this year. While many are questioning Austin Harrouff’s mental health and the nature of drug-induced psychosis, the text messages and search histories show that illegal drugs do not help to treat mental health issues, but can potentially exacerbate mental health symptoms.
Mental health problems are a growing challenge nationwide, and people of all ages can benefit from mental health treatment. Many are in need of dual diagnosis treatment, where treatment is provided for both mental health disorders and substance use problems.