Can Alcohol Cause Hallucinations?

Alcohol is a popular substance used by people due to the positive ways that it can make us feel and behave in social settings. However, excessive alcohol consumption can cause negative side effects that are distressing and inflict pain on an individual.

Alcohol misuse and poor drinking habits can cause physical and psychological side effects that can be debilitating. Individuals who misuse alcohol and drink heavily are susceptible to experiencing side effects whilst drinking and for days or weeks following.

Is it possible to experience hallucinations from drinking alcohol? We look at how alcohol can affect the brain and explore different ways that alcohol can cause psychological issues.

The Impact of Alcohol on the Brain

When alcohol is consumed, it impacts the neurotransmitters in the brain, which alters our brain activity and changes how we feel and behave. These include:

• Dopamine – alcohol raises levels of dopamine, which causes increased feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
• Serotonin – serotonin levels can fluctuate when taking alcohol, which affects the stability of our mood.
• Endorphins – alcohol can release higher levels of endorphins, which can cause an increased feeling of happiness and relaxation.
• Glutamate–alcohol reduces the activity of glutamate, which can slow down motor functions and slow reactions.
• GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric-Acid) – when taking alcohol, GABA can make individuals feel calm and tired.

These changes to our brain activity from alcohol consumption can make people feel more relaxed, sociable, and less anxious, especially when in social settings. However, when taken irresponsibly, it can have adverse effects and negatively change the way we feel.

What are Alcohol-Induced Hallucinations?

Alcohol-induced hallucinations are a side-effect of excessive alcohol consumption. Individuals can experience hallucinations whilst in an alcohol-induced state or whilst withdrawn from alcohol use.

The types of hallucinations that people experience can vary, including visual hallucinations, such as moving objects or seeing faces; auditory hallucinations, such as ringing or hearing voices; as well as tactile hallucinations, where individuals feel like they have been touched.

How do Alcohol-Induced-Hallucinations Occur?

There are different ways that alcohol-induced hallucinations can occur, which can affect an individual.

A condition called ‘alcoholic hallucinosis’ can occur between 12 and 24 hours after the last drink and can last for days. Alcoholic hallucinosis can occur whilst drinking or shortly after stopping drinking and can cause someone to experience, see, hear, or feel things that aren’t real.

Another condition called ‘Delirium Tremens’ can occur when an individual suddenly stops drinking after heavy drinking. This typically begins 2 to 3 days after the last drink and can cause several intense psychological issues, including confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and fever. If someone experiences Delirium Tremens, then they are to seek medical attention immediately.

Alcohol Symptoms from Withdrawal

Someone who regularly uses alcohol can experience a range of withdrawal symptoms once stopping alcohol, which can affect them physically and psychologically. As well as experiencing hallucinations due to alcohol, individuals can experience:

• Anxiety
• Depression
• Headaches
• Sweating
• Nausea
• Mood swings

If someone is experiencing alcohol-induced hallucinations, there are various ways that they reduce their symptoms through self-help and seeking attention from medical professionals.

Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated

Following a nutritious diet and staying hydrated regularly are effective ways to aid kidney function and increase metabolism. Whilst alcohol is in the body, the metabolism tries to flush out toxins, so it must be working properly to reduce the effects of alcohol.

Seek advice from a GP

Visiting a local general practitioner can provide you with an assessment of your symptoms and accurately determine your current state. They will give you professional advice about ways you can reduce withdrawal symptoms and be able to refer you for further medical help.

Medication treatment

There are medications available that can reduce symptoms from alcohol-induced hallucinations. If referred to a doctor, they can prescribe you medication, including Benzodiazepines, Antipsychotics and Anticonvulsants, which can stabilise mood and reduce withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.

Therapy and counselling

For people suffering from alcohol-induced hallucinations, there is a root issue with alcohol that can be helped through therapy and counselling sessions. Alcohol addiction is the main cause of alcohol-induced hallucinations, which can be treated by speaking to someone about your lifestyle choices and learning new ways to stop or reduce drinking habits.


Taking part in an alcohol rehabilitation programme provides the opportunity for people with an alcohol addiction to safely withdraw from alcohol and learn ways to manage behavioural issues. There are various options for rehabilitation, including both inpatient and outpatient treatment, which are both effective for reducing symptoms from alcohol-induced hallucinations and preventing alcohol misuse in the long term.


Excessive alcohol consumption can cause hallucination side effects that are distressing for individuals. However, there are ways to treat it and reduce these symptoms. It’s important that if you are experiencing hallucinations from alcohol, seek help and take steps to lead a healthier lifestyle.