Alcohol delirium is not the only hallucinatory disease associated with alcohol dependence. Long-term exposure of the brain to the toxic effects of ethanol may lead to the development of alcohol hallucinosis – typical drinking-induced psychosis.
How Common Is It?
It is difficult to estimate the incidence of this disease, and conservative estimates say about 1–2% of addicts. It is known, however, that in every fifth patient it is chronic and lasts for many months.
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How Is It Manifested?
Regardless of the first time it occurs, chronic hallucinosis can persist during periods of both drinking and sobriety. In contrast to delirium, hallucinations in this case are auditory in nature, which means that patients can hear voices that do not exist, often belonging to people they know. What the voices say is usually unpleasant for the patient and creates a sense of danger. Sometimes voices persuade the patient to take various actions – then it is said that hallucinations are imperative. Especially dangerous are situations when the content of the hallucinations is voices ordering suicide or aggression towards other people. There may also be incorrect beliefs (i.e. delusions) about safety and a feeling of being watched and slandered.
How Is The Diagnosis Made By The Doctor?
The diagnosis is based on a psychiatric examination of the patient and collecting a detailed history of alcohol consumption and the circumstances of the symptoms. Talking with the patient’s relatives can be of great importance, especially if contact with the patient is difficult.
What Are The Treatments?
Treatment of patients with alcoholic hallucinosis requires regular psychiatric care and is based on the use of antipsychotic drugs (neuroleptics). It is essential for the success of the therapy to maintain abstinence, which is also a condition for the possibility of taking these drugs. The general rule in psychiatry is the total prohibition of consuming alcoholic beverages while using any psychotropic preparations.
Is It Possible To Recover Completely?
Regular medication and continued abstinence allow for the full recovery of most patients.
What do I have to do after treatment is finished? How to avoid getting sick?
To avoid recurrence of psychotic experiences – hallucinations and delusions – it is necessary to remain under psychiatric control and scrupulously follow the rules of pharmacotherapy. Returning to alcohol consumption carries a great risk of recurrence of symptoms.
Alcohol Paranoia (Othello Syndrome)
Alcohol paranoia is a psychotic disorder that complicates alcohol addiction and is associated with the presence of completely untrue and uncorrectable beliefs – i.e. delusions.
How Common Is It?
Morbid jealousy, one of the forms of which is Othello’s syndrome, has been found in some studies in up to 30% of alcohol dependent people undergoing treatment. However, there are no precise and unequivocal epidemiological data on this particular form of alcoholic psychosis. Delusions of infidelity also occur in the course of other psychiatric illnesses, but it is estimated that the cause in 20% of cases is alcohol.
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How Is It Manifested?
This disease occurs in men and is based on an unwavering belief in marital infidelity. Patients affected by this ailment are convinced that their partners lead an intense social life, make dates with other men, and interpret any delay or early departure for work as undeniable evidence of their rightness. The woman’s explanation and justification that her suspicions are wrong does not bring the expected results. The fact of the partner’s faithfulness is of no great importance here, because all trivial situations in such cases grow to the size of the total profession of trust. Patients with this form of psychosis undertake various, often aggressive actions towards their companions. They track them, eavesdrop on them, bustle at work, search personal belongings, accuse the environment of a promiscuous lifestyle, and harass them with calls and threats.