Skip to content

The Danger of Alcohol-Induced Psychosis

Alcohol-induced psychosis occurs with acute alcohol intoxication, alcohol withdrawal. Learn the treatment for this condition here.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 26, 2023

What Is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis? Alcohol Psychosis Meaning And Alcohol Induced Psychosis Definition

What is alcohol psychosis? What is an alcohol induced psychosis? Alcohol induced psychosis disorder can occur with acute intoxication, alcohol withdrawal, and chronic alcoholism. The other name of this condition is alcohol hallucinosis, according to NCBI [1]. Psychosis refers to a condition that makes it difficult for an individual to differentiate between 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.

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 (alcohol induced schizophrenia symptoms).

Can Alcohol Cause Psychosis?

What is alcoholic psychosis? Contrary to what many people think, psychosis is not a mental health issue. Psychosis is a condition that can be caused by certain drugs, including alcohol, or it can be a symptom of a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia (alcohol induced schizophrenia). Alcohol-induced psychosis often stops when the effects of alcohol use or withdrawal subside. However, psychosis might be severe or even fatal in circumstances of chronic use. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of an alcohol use disorder or experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis must undergo medical attention.

Alcohol-Induced Psychosis Case Study

34 patients with alcohol-induced psychotic illnesses in all were admitted over the course of three years. The majority (31 or 91%) were Indian and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. 3, or 9%, belonged to socioeconomic class III. They were 43 years old on average. The most frequent manifestation of hallucinations was auditory, while visual hallucinations were less frequent. A total of 26 patients briefly experienced auditory hallucinations.

The only three participants who experienced visual hallucinations also experienced audio hallucinations. 16 of the subjects had delusions, and 11 of them had them only during the current hospitalization. The other 5 had long-lasting illusions, including 3 who persistently persecuted their neighbors and family and 2 who had delusions of their spouse’s adultery. These happened with obvious deliberateness. During their hospital stay, 4 patients had speech disorders found.

By the time of discharge, though, this had cleared. Only two of the participants had depression, while the other three had demented tendencies and overall memory, cognition, and personality changes.

Signs of alcohol induced psychosis: symptoms of alcohol induced psychosis are characterized by delusions and hallucinations as its main symptoms. Alcohol-induced psychosis can make it difficult for the sufferer to distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. Secondary alcoholic psychosis symptoms including fear, anger, and disorientation are frequently brought on by this. Some of the more noticeable signs and symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Paranoia (alcohol induced paranoia)
  • Inappropriate behavior and outbursts
  • Difficulty holding a conversation
  • Trouble performing daily tasks and routines

The duration of these symptoms can range from a few hours to a few weeks. For instance, alcohol-induced psychosis may only last a brief period of time the first time you experience it. However, each occurrence raises the likelihood of having more. You run the danger of experiencing many long-term, back-to-back episodes or acquiring a chronic version of the disorder if you continue to drink strongly and frequently.

Psychosis refers to a condition that makes it difficult for an individual to differentiate between what is real and what is not.

alcohol-induced psychosis
Psychosis refers to a condition that makes it difficult for an individual to differentiate between what is real and what is not.

Learn More:

Furthermore, every incidence poses a risk to life. In addition to producing psychosis, alcohol poisoning can cause your body’s essential systems to completely shut down. After years of heavy drinking, quitting cold turkey might overstimulate your nervous system and affect your vital signs in a harmful way.

Acute Alcohol Induced Psychosis Bipolar

Bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction are frequently found together. In fact, according to some research, the majority of people who have bipolar disorder will eventually experience an alcohol use disorder. According to some estimates, up to 43% of bipolar illness sufferers currently struggle with an alcohol use issue.

Many people think that bipolar disorder refers to someone who, like a switch being flipped on, can experience happiness one second and sadness or fury the next. This is not at all how bipolar disorder actually is. Intense feelings of bliss or apathy may alternate with hopelessness or a sense of being lost. Although it could seem like a never-ending battle.

Alcohol’s sedative effects are believed to exacerbate bipolar disorder. Similar to several drugs, it causes a chance of depressive alcohol psychosis symptoms with every drink. Alcohol also significantly worsens mania, which many bipolar patients find to be very delightful. Alcohol, however, can worsen bipolar disorder’s side effects in either direction, stoking the flames with every drink.

When taking bipolar medication, especially when doing so on an empty stomach, drinking can make one drink into several. Alcohol can also destabilize bipolar disorder, allowing an empty glass to take control of your emotions.

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, 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.
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

Alcohol withdrawal induced psychosis: 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 (alcohol induced 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 – Treatment For Alcohol Induced Psychosis (Psychosis And Alcohol)

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. Also, with the right detox program, you’ll be able to minimize the symptoms of psychosis alcohol during withdrawal.

Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment (alcoholic psychosis 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.

Alcohol Induced Mental Disorders

Numerous psychiatric problems, ranging from mild and more prevalent to severe and disabling, can be caused directly by alcohol. These disorders are distinguished from independent psychiatric disorders and specifically identified as alcohol-induced disorders (disorders with a non-alcohol-related cause). Consider the mental illness of depression, which is one of the most common types of mental illness in the general population and is also a frequent complication of drinking. The diagnosis, prognosis, and course of treatment will vary depending on whether alcoholism psychosis contributed to the depression.

For a condition to be considered an alcohol-induced disorder or mental illness, it must meet certain criteria: 1) it must be a direct result of alcohol’s physiological effects; 2) it must appear within four weeks of the last use, and 3) it must be significantly more severe than what is typically expected during withdrawal or intoxication. These mental conditions consist of:

  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Delirious disorders
  • Amnestic disorders
  • Dementia disorders
  • Sexual disorders

Although alcohol is legal, its ability to cause mental impairment makes it just as deadly as some illegal street substances. Thus, while the occasional drink may seem like harmless fun, it can actually have a negative impact on your brain’s chemistry and function.

The price will eventually be paid by cognition, memory, emotional regulation, and impulse control. But it is hardly the whole amount of harm alcohol does to the brain. The onset of a mental disease might make the already difficult therapeutic procedure more difficult. Dual diagnosis treatment would be the best option if you have a mental disorder after or before abusing drugs.

Find The Right Treatment Of Alcohol Induced Psychosis 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 to 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 toward 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.

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.

Alcohol-Induced Psychosis FAQs

  1. Can alcohol withdrawal cause psychosis or alcohol induced delusions?

    Yes, psychosis associated with alcohol can occur with acute intoxication, alcohol withdrawal, and chronic alcoholism. Alcohol-related psychosis is also known as alcohol hallucinosis.

  2. How long does alcohol induced psychosis last, or how long does alcohol psychosis last? Can alcohol induced psychosis last forever?

    How long does alcohol-induced psychosis last? Long-term alcohol dependence causes a serious disorder called alcohol psychosis. It usually goes away after drinking is stopped and alcohol withdrawal symptoms lessen. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and the ensuing psychosis can become permanent in situations of particularly long-term alcohol dependence.

  3. Can drinking cause psychosis? Can alcohol make you delusional?

    Does alcohol cause psychosis? Yes, alcohol-induced psychosis can happen as a result of acute intoxication, alcohol withdrawal, or chronic alcoholism. Alcohol hallucinosis is another name for alcohol-related psychosis.

  4. Can you get psychosis from alcohol? Can alcohol bring on psychosis?

    Can alcohol trigger psychosis or can alcohol induce psychosis? Alcohol has the potential to cause psychosis (alcoholism and psychosis and alcohol and psychosis), especially when it is abused. Long-term alcohol abuse changes the way the neural receptors in your brain work.

  5. Can alcohol poisoning cause hallucinations?

    Yes, alcohol withdrawal, persistent drunkenness, or acute intoxication (alcohol poisoning hallucinations) can all lead to alcohol induced psychotic disorder (psychosis induced by alcohol). Alcohol-related psychosis is also known as alcohol hallucinosis.

  6. What is alcohol induced psychosis?

    The term “alcohol-induced psychosis” refers to a wide range of psychotic illnesses that may develop as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of this psychosis. It may happen during acute intoxication, withdrawal, and chronic alcoholism, among other stages of alcohol consumption.

  7. What happens with Wellbutrin alcohol psychosis?

    An effective medication for treating depression and quitting smoking is called wellbutrin. Wellbutrin can cause psychosis in persons who don’t have any risk factors, even at modest dosages. At the first checkup after starting Wellbutrin, questions about psychotic symptoms should be asked.

  8. What is the connection between alcohol and weed psychosis?

    When a person develops any of the aforementioned symptoms as a result of ingesting or quitting drugs, it is referred to as having substance-induced psychotic disorder. The prevalence of cannabis-induced psychosis appears to be increasing as new, more potent strains of the drug are available and as legalization initiatives broaden the substance’s appeal and user base. According to other studies, consuming marijuana when you’re young, like in your teen or tween years, increases your risk of developing psychosis.

Search We Level Up FL Alcohol-Induced Psychosis & Other Resources
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

Alcohol Use Disorder. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders

National Drug and Alcohol ResearchCentre. (2011) Psychosis and Substance Abuse. Retrieved from https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/NDARC_PYCHOSIS_FINAL.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Public Health. Alcohol Use and Your Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

U.S. Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. (2019, January 10) Delirium tremens. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm

Industrial Psychiatry Journal. (2012 December) Alcoholic halluncinosis. Bhat, P., VSSR Ryali, Srivastava, K.,Kumar, S. R., Prakash, J., and Ankit Singal, A. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830167/

U.S. Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. (2018, February 27) Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000771.htm