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Delusional Thinking and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse not only negatively affects your body, but it can increase the severity of preexisting mental disorders. Delusional thinking and psychosis are among the most serious conditions made worse by alcohol abuse. Symptoms of psychosis and delusional disorders can range from paranoia to physical hallucinations. These conditions get worse over time if left untreated. Seeking professional treatment for these serious outcomes to alcohol abuse is the best option.

Alcohol and Delusional Disorder

Delusional disorder is a rare, but serious condition. Most people with delusional disorder lack self-awareness of their condition and they might turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. Delusions in this disorder are rarely manifested as hallucinations, but are a form of psychosis. These delusions are more commonly paranoid and outside of reality. A person might feel like they are functioning normally because they don’t experience hallucinations or obvious signs of psychosis. However, delusional disorder and alcohol abuse usually coexist because:

  1. A person with delusional disorder uses alcohol to self-medicate
  2. A person with delusional disorder might find that their delusional behavior is more easily navigated with the help of alcohol.
  3. Alcohol might help a person feel as if they are not responsible for their actions when drinking.

Sub-types of Delusional Disorder:

  • Jealous: delusions that insist on a partner or spouse’s unfaithfulness, despite a lack of any evidence to suggest it.
  • Somatic: delusions that convince the sufferers that they have a physical defect or illness.
  • Persecutory: delusions that make it seem the sufferer is being hunted or threatened.
  • Grandiose: delusions that cause the belief a person has unique gifts and abilities and has friendships with powerful people (or romantic relationships, called Erotomanic).
  • Mixed: any combination of two of these sub-types.  

Can Alcohol Cause Psychosis?

Substance-induced psychosis is a form of psychosis caused by alcohol or drugs. The most common symptoms include hallucinations, confusion, memory loss and delusional thinking. While these symptoms usually clear up a few days to a week after excessive alcohol consumption, psychosis can be damaging later in life.

Alcohol-induced Psychotic Disorder (AIPD) is psychosis specifically caused by alcohol abuse. It is known as a secondary psychosis, not a primary psychosis like like schizophrenia. Alcohol-induced Psychotic disorder is induced by something which causes the psychosis, not preexisting brain structures that are organically caused. In this case the toxin alcohol is responsible for delusions, hallucinations, and persistent thoughts experienced during psychosis.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is most commonly understood as break with reality. A person loses touch with what they perceive as real and unreal. This is usually experienced as a series of disruptions, either physical or emotional. A person experiencing delusions caused by psychosis might hear or see things that aren’t there. They might also have strange and persistent behaviors or thoughts. Either way it occurs, psychosis can be very confusing and scary for the sufferer.  

Psychosis is a symptom, not a disease. It can be caused by a wide array of factors like genetics, trauma, mental health conditions, and substance abuse. Abusing drugs and alcohol will lead to an increased risk of psychosis because substance abuse might reveal an underlying psychosis.

1 in 4 adults with mental illness also have a substance abuse disorder. Approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. experience psychosis every in year. As many as 3 in 100 will have an episode of psychosis once in their life.

Next Steps

Are you or a loved one struggling with alcohol addiction? The consequences of alcohol abuse often go much deeper than realized. If you need advice on next steps, Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida is here to help. Call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with us now.

Additional Reading

Is Alcohol a Drug?

Psychosis Caused by Marijuana

2019-05-03T21:38:22+00:00 May 3rd, 2019|Alcohol Addiction, Recovery, Rehabilitation|