Need help breaking free from addiction?
1-888-993-3112
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?

Insanity By Alcohol?

Question:

Can longterm excessive use of Alcohol cause of form of insanity? Can this ever be reverted? Can a person so far gone ever have a normal productive responsible life when their brain (even in sober moments) doesn’t relate to others? Is this Alcohol or a different diagnosis? A 32 yr old woman leave her family (3 children 2-11) and husband a become a street person….. 4 yrs later can’t even function in society. I can understand everything except the children.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

Insanity By Alcohol

Can longterm excessive use of Alcohol cause of form of insanity? Can this ever be reverted? Can a person so far gone ever have a normal productive responsible life when their brain (even in sober moments) doesn’t relate to others? Is this Alcohol or a different diagnosis? A 32 yr old woman leave her family (3 children 2-11) and husband a become a street person….. 4 yrs later can’t even function in society. I can understand everything except the children.

Answer

Yes, alcohol intoxication and alcoholism can produce an alcohol induced psychosis. Whether or not this is reversible depends a lot on whether brain damage has occurred and to what extent. If extensive brain damage has occurred due to alcohol poisoning then it is unlikely that the damage can be reversed. The brain is a wonderfully flexible organ. In fact the brain is referred to as having "plasticity" due to its ability to compensate for damage in one area by re-routing communication through its nerve cell networks made up of ten billion neurons. However, long term use of heavy amounts of alcohol can cause lasting damage that result either in death or permanent impairment.

Having said this, it is important to stress the point that those who suffer from the disease of alcoholism can recover if they enter detox programs, followed by programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and refrain from drinking again. The psychotic like effects produced by alcohol intoxication can usually be reversed by remaining sober after and never again drinking.

The problem with alcohol abuse as with the abuse of other drugs is that the damaging effects cannot be reversed unless and until the addict decides to stop. The hope is always that this decision will be made before permanent damage or death occurs.

In the case of the individual you are inquiring about I doubt that she has ever remained sober for a long enough period of time to be able to return to normal functioning. Of course, it is entirely possible that she has already suffered permanent brain damage. Because she is young (you report that she has children) the likelihood is that she can recover normal function if she gets help entering into sobriety.

There is one more possible explanation for what is happening to this woman and that is that she had a mental illness before she ever started to drink. We refer to the problem of a mentally ill person becoming an addict as "dual diagnosis." Dual Diagnosis refers to the fact that a person carries two diagnoses: one diagnosis is for their mental disorder and the other diagnosis is for their addiction. This type of situation is different from a person suffering a psychosis as a result of alcohol or drug abuse.

Today more than ever there is hope for those who are alcoholics because there are now medications that can stop the craving for a drink after people have entered recovery. One of the drugs being used to stop an alcoholic’s craving for a drink is called "Naltraxone." It is being used very successfully to help people remain in recovery and prevent their tendency to relapse. However, an individual still has to want to recover before anything can be done to help them.

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

Close

Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 Who Answers? 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.

Close

Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand