The term “psychosis” often prompts thoughts of complex mental health concerns such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. But alcohol abuse can also trigger the onset of psychotic episodes. If someone that you care about has been exhibiting alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms, they are in crisis and need immediate professional help.
What Is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?
Alcohol-induced psychosis, which is also sometimes referred to as alcohol-related psychosis, is a mental health concern that involves a series of distressing symptoms that disrupt a person’s ability to correctly perceive their environment and interact with others.
It is important to understand that alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms are not the same as the intoxicating effects that a person typically experiences when they drink alcohol. Alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms can be much more severe and cause significantly greater harm.
According to a 2015 review from The Netherlands, the lifetime prevalence of alcohol-induced psychosis among the general public is about 0.4%. However, among people who develop alcohol use disorder (which is the clinical term for alcohol addiction), the rate of alcohol-induced psychosis rises to 4%. This represents a tenfold increase in alcohol-induced psychosis between the general public and people who have become addicted to alcohol.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?
The two main symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis are hallucinations and delusions:
- Auditory hallucinations: This may include hearing voices or other sounds that do not exist. A person who develops auditory hallucinations may believe that the sounds are originating inside their own head or that they are coming from an external source.
- Visual hallucinations: These can include seeing people, shapes, or patterns that are not actually there. Visual hallucinations are often associated with schizophrenia and psychedelic drugs, but they can also be symptomatic of alcohol-induced psychosis.
- Delusions: This is a general category that can include a variety of firm, rigid beliefs that are easily disproven or that have no basis in reality. Examples of delusional thinking include believing that a person is being spied on, persecuted, or controlled by a government agency. A person who has delusions might also believe that they are in a romantic relationship with a famous person (who they have never actually met) or that they have certain special abilities or magical powers.
The following behaviors or characteristics may indicate that a person is experiencing symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis:
- Agitation and irritability
- Claiming that someone is out to get them
- Being unable to communicate clearly or engage in conversations
- Intense fear or paranoia in the absence of any credible threat
- Dramatic mood swings, including sudden outbursts of anger or violence
- Confusion and disorientation
- Poor self-care and lack of attention to personal hygiene
Who Is at Risk for Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?
Anyone who drinks alcohol is potentially at risk for alcohol-induced psychosis. The more a person drinks, the greater their risk becomes for developing these symptoms. However, the likelihood of developing alcohol-induced psychosis is higher among certain individuals.
According to the Dutch study that we referenced in an earlier section, alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms are most common among working-age men. That study also noted that people who meet criteria such as the following may also have an elevated risk for developing this mental health concern:
- Developed alcohol use disorder at a younger age
- Have low socioeconomic status
- Are unemployed or living on a pension
- Live alone
Studies also suggest that having a father who struggled with addiction and/or mental health concerns can also increase a person’s risk for experiencing symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis.
How Is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis Treated in Atlanta, GA?
Treatment for alcohol-induced psychosis must address two important concerns: the alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms that the individual has been experiencing and the compulsion to abuse alcohol that led to the onset of these symptoms.
In most cases, alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms will subside once a person stops drinking. To accomplish this, a person may need services such as the following:
- Detoxification: Also known as detox, this is a short-term, professionally managed program that allows a person to complete alcohol withdrawal safely and with as little discomfort as possible. Among people who have been drinking heavily for an extended period of time, alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. Detox minimizes the health risks of withdrawal, so people can rid their bodies of this dangerous drug.
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): At the PHP level, people can receive full days of therapy and related support services to help them establish a strong foothold in early recovery. During a person’s time in a PHP, they can learn about the disease of addiction, identify the triggers that may threaten their continued recovery, and develop essential relapse-prevention skills.
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): Many people step down to an IOP after completing alcohol addiction treatment at the PHP level. IOPs typically offer a few hours of treatment a few days each week. This allows participants to have a structured connection to quality clinical care while also having the opportunity to work, take classes, and otherwise engage in a healthy and productive lifestyle.
- Outpatient treatment: This is the most flexible level of outpatient care for alcohol addiction. Participants can schedule sessions as needed. Outpatient treatment can be a vital source of ongoing support as a person works to progress in their recovery.
Begin Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Near Atlanta
You don’t have to wait until you hit “rock bottom” to get help for an addiction to alcohol. The day you enter treatment, you take a significant step toward a healthier and more hopeful future. Inner Voyage Recovery Center offers several levels of personalized outpatient care to help adults end their alcohol use and achieve successful, long-term recovery. To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, give us a call or visit our admissions page.