Alcohol Addiction
alcohol induced psychosis is a serious condition, requiring professional medical help
By BrightView
Author BrightView News
BrightView News
Published: November 8, 2022
Updated: September 22, 2023

Severe intoxication, alcohol withdrawal, and chronic alcohol use can cause this serious condition

What is alcohol-induced psychosis? Can it happen to me? These are common questions for those who regularly consume alcohol. And it’s worth noting this serious condition is not the result of simply having too much to drink. It is caused by withdrawal from severe intoxication or chronic alcoholism.


  • Alcohol-induced psychosis is caused by withdrawal from prolonged, excessive drinking.
  • It is relatively rare among the general population, with higher rates among those struggling with alcohol dependence.
  • Certain lifestyles and characteristics put you more at risk of suffering from alcohol-induced psychosis, including a low socioeconomic status, living alone, or having a fixed income
  • Although it is dangerous, it is usually temporary, ending after a few weeks of sobriety.

Ways It Can Be Triggered

While alcohol-induced psychosis is serious, it is rare. About 4% of people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder typically get alcohol-induced psychosis. It can follow two primary scenarios.

  • Alcohol-Poisoning: If a person drinks at such an acute level that they are at risk of alcohol poisoning, alcohol psychosis can occur during withdrawal. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal, and this person must receive immediate professional medical attention.
  • Chronic Alcohol Use Disorder: Another form of alcohol-induced psychosis can be seen in people with a chronic alcohol use disorder, where the psychosis develops within 12 to 24 hours after heavy alcohol consumption is stopped.

In the case of a chronic alcohol use disorder, people risk developing alcoholic hallucinosis. This is primarily characterized by auditory hallucinations, such as threatening and accusatory voices, and visual hallucinations. Delusions, paranoia, fear, and other mood disruptions may also occur.

Quitting Cold Turkey

The hallucinations, delusions, and persistent thoughts may not seem possible. After all, alcohol is not classified as a hallucinogen. But over time, it changes how sensations are experienced, impacting a person’s reflexes, motor function, and memory. Symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis are very real to anyone experiencing it.

Consider when my own loved one was experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis. After continuous, heavy alcohol consumption for a long period, they decided to stop “cold turkey.” And during their psychosis, they experienced severe hallucinations. They described “bugs and lizards crawling on their bathroom floor and walls.” They were even trying to “sweep away the bugs and lizards” with a broom before being taken to receive professional medical care.

This loved one is a typical, smart, and successful person who developed an alcohol use disorder. Today, they have been sober for almost a year, have a great paying job, and a different grasp on life.

The Five Things Putting You at Risk

Certain lifestyles and characteristics put people more at risk of alcohol-induced psychosis. Individuals:

  • Who developed a drinking problem at a younger age
  • With a low socioeconomic status
  • Living alone or on a fixed income
  • With a family history of alcohol or mental health problems on the paternal side

In most people, psychotic symptoms are temporary and usually stop after a few weeks of sobriety. But with 14.4 million adults in the United States having an alcohol use disorder, it’s important to know the symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis so you can connect with someone to help if they need it.

For the most effective treatment program for alcohol use disorder, reach out to BrightView today. We have comprehensive outpatient treatment programs at our sites across Arizona, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Each location offers all the benefits of a residential rehab program but with the convenience of outpatient treatment.

Find out how our addiction specialists can help you identify the root cause of addiction, understand its impact on your life, and learn about the available treatment options. Call us at 888-501-9865 or schedule an appointment using our online form.



Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash