Alcoholic Hallucinosis

What is Alcoholic Hallucinosis?

Alcoholic hallucinosis is a complication resulting from alcohol withdrawal.

The condition occurs during acute withdrawal or intoxication and has the potential of causing delirium tremens. The condition usually presents with delusions, mood disturbances, verbal hallucinations evident in clear consciousness, and can progress to a chronic form that mimics schizophrenia. Alcoholic hallucinosis is predominantly characterized by auditory hallucinations occurring after and during heavy alcohol consumption.

Alcohol is widely abused leading to clinical conditions such as withdrawal, delirium tremens, psychotic disorder, intoxication, and alcohol dementia. Some patients experience paranoid schizophrenia. Alcoholic hallucinosis is a heterogeneous condition with a distinct entity with a varied outcome. The hallucinations can be mild or intense leading to mild sensations or visual experiences.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Hallucinations

Indulging in heavy drinking habits leads to alcoholic hallucinations. The brain takes much time to adjust. The symptoms for alcoholic hallucinations occur in a very predictable pattern even after the last alcoholic drink. However, not all the symptoms manifest in all people.

Examples of symptoms include:

The condition manifests differently on the same physiological process during alcohol withdrawal. The condition is a less serious diagnosis but appears suddenly. It can lead to severe and uncoordinated physiological breakdowns, but is not fatal. Perceptions of different voices are very real and confuse the person on what is really happening and what are the imaginations from the voices. Anxiety increases and is soon replaced by motor retardation or agitation. Without full treatment taking place, the hallucinations can continue for several days or weeks.

Visual hallucinations accompany unusual and colorful visions. A person can see things that do not exist in the real sense. For instance, for things other people see as movies and paintings, the patients will perceive as aliens and a ship that wants to take them to a different world. Tactile hallucinations come with feelings of insects, rodents, and snakes, among others, crawling over bodies. Patients worry about painful itching in their hospital beds. When put on a drip solution, they quickly see it as a toxic substance being injected into their blood.

Alcoholic Hallucinosis Causes

Alcoholic hallucinosis mainly develops after a person abuses alcohol for a long period. This results in a psychopathological character, and the patient becomes a great danger to others. This can result in the person harming others or causing harm to their own body. The condition is subject to emergency hospitalization to protect the person from causing more danger to family and friends.

The main reason for this condition is long-term alcoholism. The damage done by the alcohol can be very extensive such that any abrupt withdrawal of intake for some hours or days can result in serious hallucinatory experiences. The harbinger of the mental disorder is visible in their increase in the level of aggressiveness, insomnia, and lethargy. Allowing the person to adopt another dose of the beverage even for a short time temporarily reduces visual hallucinations,especially the risk of tactile or auditory hallucinations. Not all people experiencing hallucinations suffer from a psychotic disorder. In fact, many psychiatric and physical disorders do manifest with hallucinations.

Auditory hallucinations

The condition is also called paracusia. It is the perception of sound without any identifiable external stimuli. It causes significant functional disability and distress. Over 80 percent of people with alcoholic hallucinosis experience auditory hallucinations. The condition is complex and a person can experience voices conversing about them in the third person either coming from outside or inside their head. Alcoholic hallucinosis is caused by alcohol withdrawal, resulting in victims sending threatening, accusatory messages towards other people.

Visual hallucinations

This refers to the visual perceptions resulting from an absence of external stimuli. The false perceptions arise due to unformed and formed images. The hallucinations occur in medical, neurologic, numerous ophthalmologic and psychiatric disorders. Alcoholics with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder do experience the hallucinations. The visual schizophrenia involves visual scenes with religious figures, animals, and family members. Hallucinations can come from drug intoxication and the effects include agitation.

Treatments of Alcoholic Hallucinosis

The treatments focus on psychotic symptoms and patients are advised to completely stop taking alcohol and start attending maintenance therapy sessions. Continuous consumption of alcohol can lead to chronic alcohol hallucinosis. The form comes with delusions and the symptoms are not relieved using conventional doses of the neuroleptics. Patients in the psychiatric hospital undergo long-term treatment which can last from 6 months to a year. The patient spends five years under psychiatrist medical supervision.

The patient receives drip treatment. Helpful drugs are pumped into the blood. These drugs include chlorpromazine, tried la, haloperidol, and triftazine. Tisercinum is administered intramuscularly using a solution of magnesium sulfate. The patient also undergoes therapy in niacin and vitamin B.

During treatment, the medical experts examine the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. They monitor your vital signs closely as the medication is administered. Medicines like benzodiazepines are used to lessen withdrawal symptoms. The medication includes chlordiazepoxide, lorazepam, or Ativan. Most alcohol abusers are experiencing this condition with full symptoms. The case is mostly because of the shortage of minerals and several vitamins.

The right cause of action is to give them nutritional supplements. In particular, the patient has a shortage of folate, magnesium, thiamine, phosphate, and zinc which can result in low blood sugar. Doctors have the specialized equipment and knowledge to help patients overcome alcohol hallucinosis and alcohol abuse. They offer medication and therapy that helps the patient cope with the symptoms and get better, both psychologically and physically. The doctor can advise and make prescriptions of better medication that makes withdrawal symptoms more tolerable and treat alcohol hallucinosis. Furthermore, the health experts offer useful resources to help patients stay alcohol-free.

The drugs medical experts use have demonstrated great success in the disappearance of the hallucinations. Benzodiazepines and neuroleptics help in normalization. The common benzodiazepines are lorazepam and chlordiazepoxide that are efficient in the management of the condition. The drugs are effective when combined with abstinence from using neuroleptics and alcohol. You can treat the withdrawal symptoms before major symptoms emerge.

Certain drugs are very effective in treating symptoms of alcoholic hallucinosis like diazepam and chlordiazepoxide. The drugs lessen the chances of the condition recurring. Once alcohol consumption is discontinued, the condition subsides. The withdrawal stage of detoxification from the chronic consumption takes place under the supervision of medical experts. Hallucinations can occur at later times when consumption resumes. Therefore, it is advisable that the patients should take care not to interfere with the withdrawal process. The treatment process needs inpatient care to prevent complications and promote alcohol abstinence.

Alcoholic Hallucinosis Prevention

After successful treatment of the condition, there is need to put in place measures to prevent recurrence of the condition. Treatment of the condition does not always address the underlying addiction problem which needs constant monitoring and due attention. The resurgence of the condition can only happen with alcohol abuse. Therefore, the best remedy is to start treatment of alcohol addiction and stop the person from being dependent on alcohol.

Outpatient intervention

A brief outpatient intervention is effective for all alcohol abuse victims. However, you need more intensive therapy to curb alcohol dependence. It is advisable to get professional help from the doctor to help with the alcohol dependence problem. The doctor will prescribe medications to help you curb the drinking problem.

Join a support group

Join a support group where you share ideas and experiences. The group is a good motivator to curbing alcoholism. The most widely known group is Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous,which have support from professional counselors and have energetic and committed group members who assist their friends in curbing alcoholism.

Check into alcoholic recovery facility

Checking into a comprehensive facility that offers a 12-step model, family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help curb alcoholism. In the process, it prevents you from suffering from the symptoms of chronic alcoholism or rapid withdrawal.

It is worth noting that alcohol withdrawal symptoms are killing one person in every twenty alcoholics. This is a dangerous trend that requires fast action by ensuring that the withdrawal process is under monitoring by medical experts. The experts can identify the signs and take appropriate measures to improve chances of successfully staying free from alcohol abuse.

Furthermore, about 20 percent of people who undergo treatment abstain from alcohol use permanently. The support groups and therapy are crucial when it comes to motivation and getting productive advice on ways of coping with the condition. Alcoholics who continue drinking have less life expectancy, an average reduction by 15 years.

Minimize alcohol consumption

Patients suffering from chronic alcoholism should minimize their alcohol consumption on a daily basis. This reduces metabolic abnormalities which can be life-threatening and need appropriate corrections. Check on alcohol consumption and remember that too much consumption can lead to a number of mental and behavioral disorders, and diseases. Drinkers can cause family disruptions or loss of employment, apart from suffering from alcohol related conditions like alcoholic hallucinosis.

High-risk alcohol consumption may societal and personal harm

High-risk alcohol consumption leads to considerable societal and personal harm. It is the third highest cause of disability and premature death. Intervention programs in workplaces can reach populations and audiences that do not have access to prevention programs. Some companies offer a wide range of support programs through medical care or employee assistance programs. The programs help curb problems that arise because of abusive drinking. For example, lifestyle campaigns help encouraging workers to improve nutrition, exercise, ease stress, reduce risky behaviors like drug abuse, drinking, and smoking. In addition, the programs include brief interventions involving personal assessment of the drinking rate and other problems.

Deal with life pressures

Effectively deal with life pressure like overworking. Recognize the fact that drinking only causes depression or more stress and does not relieve the work pressure. Other life pressure problems are family and relationships. To tackle the problems engage in other things that are relaxing and positive to help take the mind off the pressure and curb the need to drink.

Examine risk factors

Examine the risk factors like environmental, biological, and physical factors that drive you towards alcohol consumption. A history of substance abuse in the family or living in a place that glorifies alcohol consumption can sway your decision. Move away from such areas and seek a peaceful place without the risk factors.

Ensure a well-balanced diet

Maintain a well-balanced diet that ensures the body has enough nutrients such as minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Preventing someone from alcohol consumption is a matter of willingness. Sharing knowledge on the dangers and importance of curbing the problem is a good eye-opener that can save a life and help them avoid the dangerous effects.

Reduce alcohol in home

Reduce alcohol stocks in the home as it is making it easy to drink in the home throughout. Instead, fill the fridge with other drinks that are better nutritionally to the body. Start enforcing non-stocking of alcoholic beverages in the home to reduce your drinking habit. Avoid emotional drinking like after a family argument, work problems,or celebrations as a way of curbing stress and showing happiness. Limit bar outings as they encourage alcohol consumption, but suggest different activities such as watching movies, hosting game nights, and playing sports. Avoid temptations to drink alcohol by all means. Identify the times when you normally drink and fill that gap with a different activity like going to the cinema, workout, or trip to swimming pool as an alternative activity to wind down.

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Last Reviewed:
September 25, 2017
Last Updated:
November 03, 2017
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