What is psychosis?
Psychosis is defined as a condition where a person hears sounds and voices that are not present (hallucinations) and believes things that are untrue (delusions).
Can alcohol give you psychosis?
Psychosis can happen in patients with alcohol problems in a variety of settings. It may happen more commonly when coming off alcohol suddenly after heavy use, during an acutely intoxicated phase of alcohol or after years of abuse of alcohol. It can also happen in conditions related to alcohol including delirium tremens, Wernicke’s Korsakoff psychosis and sometimes in functional psychosis which may exist along with alcohol dependence.
Why does alcohol cause psychosis?
It is unclear but alcohol over a long-term causes changes to the chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain. As we know dopamine is commonly implicated in development of psychotic symptoms.
How common is alcohol related psychosis?
Around 7% of men and 0.4% of women suffer from alcohol dependence. Out of these people, 2 to 3 in a 100 suffer from alcohol related psychosis. This mostly occurs (around 2/3 rd) as a symptom when one stops alcohol suddenly (as part of withdrawal).
What are the various times when psychosis occurs pertaining to alcohol?
It can occur as part of withdrawal from alcohol usually within a month. It can occur as part of a complicated withdrawal state known as DELIRIUM TREMENS. There is a condition known as chronic hallucinosis where a person who consumes alcohol over a long period of time hears voices. ALCOHOL HALLUCINOSIS is a term used to denote the chronic hallucinosis which occurs years after heavy abuse of alcohol.
Psychosis can occur when one is intoxicated with alcohol and psychosis can exist as part of an independent psychotic disorder along with alcohol.
Sometimes after a period of heavy drinking hallucinations occur, usually in the auditory modality. Sometimes this can happen when one is coming off alcohol.
What is the nature of alcohol hallucinosis?
Alcohol hallucinosis which occurs mostly in people with chronic alcohol use happens in clear sensorium. There are usually mood and anxiety symptoms along with it. There is no thought alienation. There could be suicidal behaviour.
Will alcohol hallucinosis go away?
Usually alcohol hallucinosis goes away after a period of completely stopping alcohol. The outcome depends on if the person is abstinent from alcohol.
Does alcohol cause paranoia?
Chronic alcohol use can cause a person to become more suspicious and fearful and may sometimes result in delusions.
What are the symptom differences between alcohol related chronic hallucinosis and delirium tremens?
Delirium tremens as we have seen before is when a person has a potentially life-threatening withdrawal from alcohol. Now, there are differences between the psychotic symptoms that occur in delirium tremens and as alcohol related chronic hallucinosis (which usually happens after several years of heavy alcohol abuse).
In delirium tremens there is evidence of alcohol withdrawal symptoms as it happens after stopping alcohol (around 72 hours later). Meanwhile withdrawal symptoms will not be present in the chronic hallucinosis. There is usually an alteration of consciousness in Delirium tremens and clear consciousness in chronic alcohol related hallucinosis.
Visual hallucinations are more predominant in DELIRIUM TREMENS and auditory hallucinations are predominant in CHRONIC HALLUCINOSIS. The age group is older in delirium tremens related psychosis.
What are the symptom differences between alcohol related chronic hallucinosis and schizophrenia?
Usually in schizophrenia there is a family history of psychosis and schizophrenia. In chronic alcohol related hallucinosis, a family history of alcohol abuse is present. Apart from hallucinations, in schizophrenia there are some disorganized thoughts and symptoms which are present. The course is slower and there is poor insight and judgement. Whereas, in alcohol related chronic hallucinosis, the rate of recovery is faster and insight and judgement is better.
Medications to treat Alcohol Related chronic hallucinosis?
It has been found that first and second-generation antipsychotics are helpful in the treatment of alcohol related hallucinosis.
Is the outcome good?
Outcome is very much dependent on if the person can be abstinent from alcohol completely and the length of time.