ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The four types of psychoses associated with the abuse of alcohol

Updated on January 12, 2015

Pathological intoxication

This is an acute reaction that occurs in individuals whose tolerance to alcohol is chronically very low, especially epileptics or those of an unstable personality makeup, or in normal people whose tolerance to alcohol is temporarily lessened by exhaustion, emotional stress or other conditions. Moderate consumption may even cause these individuals to suddenly become disorientated and may exhibit homicidal rage and may at times commit violent crimes.

This extraordinary state is usually followed by a period of deep sleep followed by complete amnesia.


These acute reactions would usually last only for a short time and confusion, excitement and delirium will be manifested. They are termed alcoholic psychoses as they are identified by a temporary loss of contact with reality.

Delirium tremens

This alcoholic psychotic reaction is common among those who drink excessively for a long time, appear during a period of abstinence, be associated with a head injury or infection or occur upon the withdrawal of alcohol after prolonged drinking.

A period of restlessness and insomnia may prelude the delirium and the person may generally feel uneasy and apprehensive. Apparently slight noises or sudden moving objects may cause considerable excitement and agitation.

Full-blown symptoms may include:

  • Disorientation for time and place in which a person may mistake the hospital for a church or jail, friends are no longer recognized and hospital attendants may be identified as old acquaintances.
  • Vivid hallucinations usually of small, fast moving animals like snakes, rats and cockroaches.
  • Acute fear of those animals which may change in form, size or colour in terrifying ways.
  • Extreme suggestibility as the person can be made to see almost any form of animal if its presence is merely suggested.
  • Notable tremours of the hands, tongue and lips.
  • Perspiration, fever, a rapid and week heartbeat, a coated tongue and foul breath.

The delirium lasts from three to six days and is followed by a deep sleep. Once the person awakes there are few evident symptoms but would frequently be badly scared and may not resume drinking for several weeks or months.

There would unfortunately be an eventual resumption of the abuse of alcohol, followed by a return to the hospital with a new attack. Death could be caused by convulsions, heart failure and other complications and which should be initially treated with the chlordiazepoxide drug.

Psychoses and alcoholism


Acute alcoholic hallucinosis

The main symptoms are auditory hallucinations as the individual hears a voice making certain simple statements. These hallucinations usually extend to the voices of several people and they tend to be critical and reproachful. Private weaknesses are usually itemized and discussed and various horrible punishments are then proposed. Typical sounds would be the clanking of chains, the sharpening of knives, the sound of pistol shots, or footsteps approaching in a threatening manner. The individual may eventually scream for help or attempt suicide. These bizarre occurrences may continue for several days or even weeks while the person is depressed but relatively well oriented and coherent, apart from the hallucinations.

Korsakoff’s psychosis

Originally described by the Russian psychiatrist Korsakoff in 1887, this symptom is a memory defect which is concealed by falsification. These individuals may not recognize pictures, faces, rooms and objects that they have just seen, although they may feel that these people or objects are familiar. They tend to fill in the gaps with reminiscences and fanciful tales that lead to unconnected and distorted associations. They may appear to be delirious, hallucinated and disorientated but their behavior is closely related to their attempts to fill in memory gaps. This reaction usually occurs in older alcoholics after many years of excessive drinking.

The symptoms may be due to vitamin B deficiency and other dietary deficiencies as a diet rich in vitamins and minerals would restore the patient to more normal physical and mental health.

Some personality deterioration may remain in the form of memory impairment, blunting of intellectual capacity and lowering of moral and ethical standards.

How long do alcohol symptoms last?

The Addicted Brain: Why We Abuse Drugs, Alcohol and Nicotine


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)