The Danger of Alcohol-Induced Psychosis

Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up FL is a primary mental health center offering co-occurring treatments. We treat the entirety of behavioral health disorders including their secondary corresponding illnesses to improve long-term recovery outcomes. Get a free mental health assessment and find out what treatment options are most suitable for you. Call to learn more.

What is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Alcohol-induced psychosis can occur with acute intoxication, alcohol withdrawal, and chronic alcoholism. The other name of this condition is alcohol hallucinosis. This is according to NCBI [1]. Psychosis refers to a condition that makes it difficult for an individual to differentiate what is real and what is not.

Alcohol has the potential to cause psychosis, especially when it is abused. Long-term alcohol abuse changes the way the neural receptors in your brain work. The exact cause of alcohol-related psychosis is unknown. However, it is likely related to dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters help your brain recognize the reality in front of you and are often impaired when you hallucinate. The majority of individuals presenting with psychosis for the first time have some substance abuse.

Alcohol-induced psychosis can become ch
I see that you are drowning. But I have to walk away. If I jump in to save you. You’ll pull me down to stay. When you see me turn around, don’t think that I don’t care. You can’t see the tears through all your gasps for air.

According to NCBI [2], in individuals with alcohol use disorder, paternal alcohol (fathers who consistently consume moderate to high amounts of alcohol leading up to conception may negatively impact offspring development due to the exposure to the paternal sperm) and mental health problems were found to be associated with a higher incidence of alcohol-related psychosis. Twin studies also suggest a genetic predisposition to the development of alcohol-related psychosis. Individuals with alcohol-related psychosis have a 5% to 30% risk of developing a chronic schizophrenia-like syndrome.

Risk Factors for Alcohol-Induced Psychosis

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) [3], reports that among Americans aged 18-25, approximately 15.1% had a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2016. Of those, about 2.1% also had a co-occurring serious mental illness [3]. In that same year, 13-51% of young people also experienced first-episode psychosis with a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Risk factors that contribute to developing alcohol-induced psychosis include:

  • Early-stage or late-stage alcohol withdrawal
  • Abusing other substances, like benzodiazepines
  • Lack of social support during withdrawal
  • Impulse control disorder
  • Early-onset alcohol use, during early adolescence

Types of Alcohol-Induced Psychosis


People who experience one instance of alcohol-induced psychosis are more likely to experience another one shortly. It will become chronic if left untreated. This form of psychosis indicates several different conditions, depending on when psychosis appears — during intoxication, during withdrawal, or with regular chronic abuse.

Acute Intoxication

Psychosis caused by acute intoxication happens when someone drinks a very large amount of alcohol at once. However, consuming alcohol in large enough quantities to trigger psychosis often also leads to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can be lethal.

When the use of drugs and alcohol ends, the addiction withdrawals begin. They become cravings that endure even with the knowledge of the adverse effects. Medical detox is critical in ensuring the withdrawal is manageable and reaches completion as well as that it does not become dangerous and life-threatening.

Alcohol Withdrawal Psychosis

It’s possible to experience psychosis as an effect of alcohol withdrawal. Hallucinations are a possible side effect. Hallucinations can happen if you’re withdrawing from alcohol. In some cases, these hallucinations pick up momentum and transform into a full state of psychosis called alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD). Individuals who stop drinking after consuming high volumes of alcohol over an extended period are at a particularly high risk of developing AWD. AWD is easily one of the most dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. In addition, psychosis can cause a spike in heart and breathing rates, as well as, full-body tremors.

Chronic Alcoholic Hallucinosis

This condition usually arises after years of chronic, severe alcohol abuse. This form of alcohol-induced psychosis is rare, but it’s also the most severe. It’s common for people suffering from auditory hallucinations, like when people with schizophrenia describe hearing voices and other noises. Also, it can cause severe mood swings, which is more dangerous because it can trigger more alcohol abuse.

Alcohol-Induced Psychosis Treatment

Due to the strong mental health component, it’s recommended to attend addiction treatment that specializes in dual diagnosis disorders. Alcohol-induced psychosis can be treated, and the first step is breaking free from alcohol addiction. And with the right detox program, you’ll be able to minimize the symptoms of psychosis during withdrawal.

Treating dual diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse. Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and addressing underlying mental health disorders is all a part of setting clients up for success.

A thorough mental health analysis identifies opportunities for treatment. Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. Proper treatment leads to change for better, healthier living. This is all possible at our dual diagnosis treatment centers in We Level Up Florida.

We believe that if the client can identify the underlying issue and treat it simultaneously with their treatment for addiction, the client’s chances of a successful, relapse-free recovery are much improved. In fact, once we can identify and properly begin treatment on the underlying issue that’s driving or co-occurring with the dependency on alcohol or other drugs, clients will be closer to long-term sobriety.

Find the Right Treatment Plan For You

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Rehab Center West Palm Beach. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox and or addiction rehab may be required first.  If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.

We Level Up affiliate facilities may assist in monitoring a person suffering from alcohol abuse through detox, ensuring withdrawal symptoms are safely managed. Alcohol detox often includes a taper-down strategy. This helps gradually expel the drug from the body to reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as depression and fatigue. Uncomfortable side effects can take hold if a person quits alcohol too fast. A doctor can set up a tapering schedule, typically lasting a few weeks or a few months, so a person can get sober safely.

The inpatient treatment approach works best as it aims to change the person’s behaviors. Also, it helps them establish social support systems and better methods of coping with stress. A person will likely experience many different side effects of alcohol induced psychosis. These side effects may be emotional, physical, or mental. For example, someone in withdrawal will likely experience many uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts about life during the process of detox. Unfortunately for those with dependency, detox is an unavoidable first step towards recovery.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up affiliate facilities may provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists about your situation. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

We Level Up Florida can help with inpatient primary mental health programs. Depending on the extent of secondary disorders, we can first help assess your condition and thereafter guide you to suitable treatment options. We do not offer PHP, IOP, or outpatient level of care at this time. Programs, services, and treatments vary. Get a free assessment and find out what treatment options are most suitable for you. Call to learn more.

Sources

[1] [2] NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459134/

[3] SAMHSA – https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/pep19-pl-guide-3_0.pdf

[4] Alcohol-Induced Psychosis » Drug Alcohol AddictionWe Level Up