What is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental condition that is characterized by disruptions to a person’s connection with reality. During psychosis, a person may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not as they experience delusions and hallucinations.1
Many people experience changes in behavior and mood while under the influence of alcohol. However, alcohol.org states that psychosis is much more serious. Four percent of alcohol abusers experience the delusions or hallucinations of alcohol-induced psychosis, which makes it a rare condition.2
How to Identify Alcohol-Induced Psychosis
Substance-Induced Psychosis Disorder is a secondary psychosis. It is usually treatable as it is caused by an external toxin such as alcohol or drugs. Substance-induced Psychosis shouldn’t be confused with schizophrenia, which is caused by pre-existing brain structures that are organic.2
People suffering episodes of alcohol-induced psychosis display symptoms such as firmly holding beliefs that are clearly false (delusions)3 or experiencing hallucinations like hearing or seeing things that aren’t there. They have difficulty discerning what’s real and what’s not real. People with psychosis typically become socially withdrawn or agitated and display deteriorating performance in professional and educational settings.4
Another tell-tale sign that someone is struggling with substance-induced psychosis is that, in addition to these symptoms, they will often use their substance of choice (intoxicants like alcohol or drugs) to cope with their symptoms.
What to do About Alcohol-Induced Psychosis
It is difficult for people to self-diagnose or accept the fact that they are experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis. However, if you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis, you should immediately seek medical attention.
A psychotic episode due to intoxication or withdrawal is considered a medical emergency because they face a high risk of unconsciousness, seizures, and delirium.5 If someone experiences a psychotic episode, they should also receive a psychological evaluation for their protection. Unfortunately, alcohol-induced psychosis is associated with higher rates of suicide.6
Prognosis for Alcohol-Induced Psychosis
Heavy drinking can trigger psychotic episodes, but they typically subside once the body has had time to process the alcohol or drugs. People with addictions to alcohol or illicit drugs are encouraged to seek a medically-assisted addiction recovery treatment to prevent future psychotic episodes.
Schick Shadel Hospital offers the most successful addiction recovery program in the country. Our medical facility offers safe detox with constant monitoring and medications that help the process go smoothly. This enables patients to avoid the dangers of detoxing alone. In addition to detox, our 10-day addiction treatment program effectively helps patients reclaim their lives from alcohol and drug addiction. That’s because 12 months after treatment, 69% of patients are still sober!7
If you or a loved one experiences a substance-induced psychotic episode, seek immediate medical attention. Acting quickly can save yourself or a loved one from the self-harm, suicidal thoughts, social isolation, and confusion that often accompanies alcohol-induced psychosis.
1 NIMH » What is Psychosis?. (2018). Nimh.nih.gov. Retrieved 7 January 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/raise/what-is-psychosis.shtml
2 Alcohol-Induced Psychotic Disorder: Hallucinations, Delusions, Persistent Thoughts. (2019). Alcohol.org. Retrieved 7 January 2019, from https://www.alcohol.org/comorbid/psychotic-disorder/
3 Centers, A. (2019). How to Identify Drug Induced-Psychosis. American Addiction Centers. Retrieved 7 January 2019, from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/co-occurring-disorders/drug-psychosis-comorbidity
4 Timothy J. Legg, C. (2017). Psychosis: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. Medical News Today. Retrieved 7 January 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248159.php
5 Alcohol-Related Psychosis Treatment & Management: Medical Care, Consultations, Diet. (2019). Emedicine.medscape.com. Retrieved 7 January 2019, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/289848-treatment
6 Stankewicz, H., & Salen, P. (2018). Alcohol Related Psychosis. Statpearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459134/
7 Elkins, R., Richards, T., Nielsen, R., Repass, R., Stahlbrandt, H., & Hoffman, H. (2017). The Neurobiological Mechanism of Chemical Aversion (Emetic) Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder: An fMRI Study. Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 11. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00182