Can You Really Hallucinate Because of Alcohol?
Unfortunately, alcohol hallucinations are real, and they can be incredibly dangerous, no matter what point in your abuse they happen to occur. If you are ready to seek treatment for alcohol addiction and its dangerous side effects, call 800-839-1686 now.
What Causes Alcohol Hallucinations?
There are many different ways in which a person could possibly experience hallucinations as the result of alcohol abuse.
- According to the National Library of Medicine, “Being drunk or high” can possibly cause a person to hallucinate. Many different drugs can create this effect, among them alcohol. If a person drinks enough, they might see or hear things that aren’t really there. Especially if someone abuses drugs in conjunction with drinking large amounts of alcohol, the chances of this outcome grow considerably.
- Alcohol withdrawal is another time where someone could possibly hallucinate as the result of alcohol abuse. Many people who become dependent on this substance experience withdrawal when they stop, and some experience a severe withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens. One of the strongest signs that a person is undergoing this syndrome rather than a more mild form of withdrawal is if they have hallucinations (NLM).
- A person undergoing delirium tremens is likely to experience visual or auditory hallucinations. This can lead to extreme fear and can cause the individual to become a danger to themselves or others.
- As stated by the Industrial Psychiatry Journal in a study from 2012, “Alcoholic hallucinosis is a rare complication of chronic alcohol abuse characterized by predominantly auditory hallucinations that occur either during or after a period of heavy alcohol consumption.” This has been separated from both the possible hallucinations caused by alcohol and/or drug abuse and those caused during delirium tremens.
- Unfortunately, the syndrome strongly mimics schizophrenia and can be very frightening.
- It often sounds like someone is talking to the individual, even if no one is.
- Mood disturbances are common during this experience.
Can These Hallucinations Be Treated?
Usually, alcohol hallucinations of any type are temporary and can be treated in a professional medical setting. Most people seeing or hearing things that are not there as a result of alcohol abuse or withdrawal need to be brought to a hospital or another 24-hour medical facility as quickly as possible. People become very dangerous in this state.
Doctors and nurses will often place patients undergoing alcohol-related hallucinations in a dark, quiet room where they will experience little to no stimulation. This is often best, as the effects of psychosis can accompany hallucinations. In addition, the patient may need to be sedated. For example, severe alcohol withdrawal is treated by sedating the patient with medications and monitoring the patient’s vital signs until their withdrawal is complete (NLM).
Normally, whether these hallucinations are caused by withdrawal or alcohol toxicity, they will begin to subside after a few days or so. However, the hallucinations caused during alcoholic hallucinosis can sometimes last even after the individual has become abstinent. This issue can often be treated with neuroleptics, but again, it is very rare.
Patients may also need follow-up treatment. In many cases, someone who is experiencing alcohol-related hallucinations (and especially someone who was dependent on the substance) will need to stop drinking and will require addiction treatment that can help them make this change. They may also need therapy, not just for their addiction, but for the feelings and fears these hallucinations may have caused. Luckily, both of these issues should usually be treated simultaneously for the best effect for the patient (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
What Should I Do If I’m Experiencing Alcohol Hallucinations?
Call 911 immediately. It is very possible that your hallucinations could worsen without warning, and you could hurt yourself or someone else as a result. This effect of heavy drinking and alcohol dependence is extremely dangerous, and it is important to seek the proper care as soon as possible.
Begin Addiction Treatment Today
If you are currently safe but know you need help to put a stop to your drinking, call 800-839-1686 to find reliable treatment options for your recovery. We can match you with the best rehab center available for your needs and help you stop your substance abuse once and for all.