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What Is Alcohol Induced Psychosis?

It seems like alcohol is everywhere in our society. Facts from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that more than 85% of adults aged 18 or older have tried alcohol at some point. Since alcohol is so widely available, many make the mistake of thinking it’s not dangerous or addictive. But there are long-term and short-term risks that come with alcohol abuse, and one of the most serious is alcohol induced psychosis.

Psychosis is a symptom that accompanies mental health disorders and can cause someone to lose touch with reality. Alcohol consumption in large quantities over time can cause a form of psychosis that, if not treated, can be dangerous for your health and wellness.

Finding help for an alcohol-related problem starts with experienced clinicians and evidence-based treatments like those at Vogue Recovery Center. Alcohol addiction treatment programs provide medically supervised alcohol detox followed by a variety of effective treatment methods that help you recover from alcoholism and find long-term sobriety.

What Is Alcohol Induced Psychosis?

Alcohol induced psychosis is very scary for both an individual and their loved ones. It is a condition that develops when someone drinks heavily or abuses alcohol over time. The symptoms of alcoholic psychosis include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • A general loss of touch with reality

These symptoms can make living a healthy and productive life more difficult. Those experiencing psychosis may harm themselves or others during an episode.

Types of Psychosis Caused by Alcohol

There are three main kinds of alcoholic paranoia that can affect those who drink:

1. Alcohol Withdrawal Psychosis

One of the most important steps in the alcoholism recovery process is detox. Alcohol is physically addictive, meaning that when the body is denied it after regular use, it can bring on withdrawal symptoms. When heavy drinkers begin detox from excessive alcohol abuse, they can experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms like alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD) and delirium tremens (DT). This is because alcohol alters the chemicals in the brain. When someone stops drinking, their brain and nervous system don’t adjust right away. This causes symptoms of withdrawal that can last for several days. These conditions have the potential to complicate detox and require a medically supervised setting.

2. Acute Alcohol Intoxication

People who binge drink are also at risk for alcohol related psychosis. Binge drinking is when someone consumes a lot of alcohol in a short period of time. There are cases where a single night of binge drinking causes hallucinations and delirium. This type of psychosis is rare and often associated with alcohol poisoning.

3. Chronic Alcoholic Hallucinosis

Alcoholism often develops over a period of time, and it can lead to alcoholic hallucinosis. When chronic alcohol abusers drink, symptoms may include:

  • An unstable mood
  • Rambling thoughts or delusions
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations

Chronic alcoholic hallucinosis can last for as little as a day or as long as a month.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Induced Psychosis?

What makes this alcohol-related condition so scary is the wide range of symptoms that come with it. Along with seeing or hearing things that are not there, someone experiencing an episode of alcohol induced psychosis may have the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Talking to nobody
  • Violence and aggression
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Difficulty holding a conversation
  • Scratching or itching

When someone is having an episode, they’ll often appear confused and disoriented. Many report feeling like bugs or other unseen things are crawling on their skin. They may experience several of the symptoms or just a few. There are many factors that affect the severity and duration of alcoholic psychosis symptoms. The length of time someone abuses alcohol, for example, can affect how severe an episode is.

Symptoms vary in how long they last. For those going through withdrawal, symptoms generally occur within 24 hours after not consuming alcohol. There have been cases where psychosis lasted longer than a few days, but those instances are rare. Hallucinations or delusions are serious psychotic symptoms and should be addressed by a behavioral health professional as soon as possible.

confused woman with alcohol induced psychosis

What Are the Dangers of Alcohol Induced Psychosis?

Psychotic episodes caused by alcohol are dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible. There are a number of health issues associated with alcohol use already, like high blood pressure, cancer, dementia, depression, and many more. When excessive drinking is left untreated and it develops into psychotic episodes, the dangers grow even more alarming. Someone experiencing an episode may not know what is real and what is not. They may not recognize friends or loved ones. They may think people trying to help them are doing them harm. The paranoia leads to unpredictability, and that makes getting help more difficult.

Anyone with an alcohol addiction is at risk for alcohol induced psychosis. Some people are more at risk due to certain consumption, social, and medical factors. Those who are at increased risk include:

  • Anyone over 40 who drinks heavily
  • Someone with schizophrenia
  • Those with mental health disorders
  • People who abuse multiple substances along with alcohol, like methamphetamine
  • Those with a thiamine (B1) deficiency
  • Someone in detox going through withdrawal
  • Someone with a high blood alcohol content (BAC)

Is There Treatment for Alcohol Induced Psychosis?

If you think you are at risk for alcoholic psychosis, it is important to get help right away. Even if you are not at high risk but still drink heavily, getting support from experienced substance abuse counselors like those at Vogue Recovery Center can lead the way to sober living.

Vogue Recovery Center provides personalized treatment plans with unique levels of care for those looking for help with alcohol addiction and alcohol induced psychosis. Each situation is unique, so our alcohol recovery options are designed to reflect that.

Treatment for alcohol induced psychosis starts with making sure you are stable, and this usually happens in medical detox.

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Medical detox – Detox programs for alcohol help people overcome physical dependence on alcohol by addressing withdrawal symptoms and helping to prevent relapse. Medical professionals will monitor you as you withdraw from alcohol and make sure you’re safe. The components of a detox program can vary, but generally involve a combination of medical assessment and supervision, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), emotional support, and individualized aftercare plans.

Upon entry, a medical professional ensures your vital signs are normal and that you can breathe on your own. If you’re experiencing hallucinations and pose a risk to the safety of others, you may need to be restrained. Treatment center staff also monitor you for suicidal thoughts or actions during this time. It may be necessary to use neuroleptic medications like haloperidol or atypical antipsychotics, such as olanzapine or ziprasidone, if you need sedation.

Residential recovery – A residential recovery program for alcohol provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to heal from their addiction. It’s an inpatient level of care with 24/7 access to a team of addiction professionals, including therapists, counselors, and medical staff. These professionals provide educational materials and group therapy sessions that help you learn skills to cope with your triggers to drink.

Partial hospitalization program (PHP) – Partial hospitalization for alcohol addiction offers structured treatment at a facility like Vogue Recovery Center for up to six hours per day. You can live at home or in a sober living facility while you take the next step on your alcoholism recovery journey. You’ll receive constant support from addiction and mental health professionals and peers in PHP. It’s a great place to begin building a sober support system you can rely on in the future.

Intensive outpatient program (IOP) – In our intensive outpatient program (IOP) you will visit our facility for treatment a few times per week. Flexible times for meetings and therapies mean you can continue fulfilling work, school, or family obligations. If you don’t require 24/7 care, IOP might be a good option for your recovery from alcohol abuse.

Outpatient rehab – Outpatient treatment for alcohol can be a great way to get sober. It offers the flexibility to balance your recovery journey with work or school commitments. This type of program includes counseling, group therapy and support meetings, medication management if necessary, and other evidence-based treatments. It may also involve creating a plan to reduce drinking patterns and triggers while giving you strategies to cope with cravings and manage stress.

Vogue Recovery Center is here to help you take back control of your life from heavy drinking and the alcohol induced psychosis that can come with it. Call us today for help verifying your insurance and to learn more about our alcohol treatment programs or any of our addictions treatment options.


Evan Gove

Evan Gove

Evan Gove is a writing and editing professional with ten years of experience. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. When not writing, you can find him enjoying his sunny hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.

Published by Evan Gove

Evan Gove is a writing and editing professional with ten years of experience. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. When not writing, you can find him enjoying his sunny hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.

Medically Reviewed by Kelsey Jones, MS, LPC