Addiction A-Z

Alcohol-related psychosis

Alcohol-related psychosis is defined roughly as a mental condition in which contact with reality is compromised by delusions and/or hallucinations, and these symptoms occur during or shortly after intoxication or withdrawal. This is often an indication of chronic alcoholism that affects about 3% of people with alcohol dependence. Typically these hallucinations stop and do not continue once the crisis of intoxication or withdrawal is over.

Alcohol-related psychosis can be indicative of conditions that are serious health concerns and could even be life-threatening. It often signals the acute stage of alcohol withdrawal in which seizures and other physiological crises occur. These could be life-endangering without proper treatment.

Another type of alcohol-related psychosis is a rare condition called idiosyncratic intoxication. This occurs when a small amount of alcohol causes severe reactions and intoxication. One might become aggressive and have hallucinations and delusions. There are usually no symptoms after intoxication has passed with the possible exception of amnesia for what occurred during the psychosis.

Medical treatment is required for management of alcohol-induced psychoses. At times psychiatric services or even hospitalization are needed due to the severity of disorientation and agitation. Medically supervised withdrawal and detoxification protocols monitor and manage the health risks of these conditions. Medications may be used to treat symptoms such as hypertension, fever, seizures and other complications of withdrawal. Similarly, medications for sedation and psychosis may be used to manage delusions, hallucinations and agitation.

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