Alcohol may increase risk of paranoid behavior

Alcohol may increase risk of paranoid behavior

Mark (name changed) was diagnosed with delusional disorder. All through his adolescence, he had struggled with severe psychosis, due to which he faced innumerable challenges in sustaining long-term relationships.  He faced similar problems at work and often used to quit the job or was fired because of behavioral issues. When things went horribly wrong, Mark took to drinking to seek solace. At his friend’s insistence, he entered into a rehab offering cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and found a means of dealing with the debilitating psychosis, paranoia and the addiction he developed to alcohol.

Delusional disorder, previously known as paranoid disorder, is a rare condition characterized by strange delusions and hallucinations. People exhibiting paranoid behavior believe that something untoward is going to happen with them or their family. Although not accepted by other members of the family or the society, such false beliefs create a sense of insecurity in the mind of the sufferer.

Unlike other psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar, people suffering from delusional behavior do not hallucinate or have mood disorders. According to estimates, nearly 24-30 cases in a population of 100,000 people get the diagnosis for delusional disorder.

As most of these dysfunctional feelings are deeply ingrained, those diagnosed with the disorder may witness a deterioration in their health and relationships.  Narcissistic tendencies, persecutory beliefs and erotomania, are some of the examples of paranoid behavior. An erotomanic delusional disorder, for example, could cause the patient to hold a firm belief that someone is in love with him or her. As a result of this, the patient would in all likelihood reinterpret signs to sustain his or her own belief. In most cases of eromanic delusions, the object of romantic fantasy is a remote figure, such as a celebrity. Another prototype of delusional behavior is jealously.

Understanding patterns of alcohol abuse in patients with paranoia

Although the exact causes of delusional disorder are still unknown, it has been found that there is a relationship between paranoid behavior and alcohol abuse. Many people dealing with symptoms of paranoia seek refuge in alcohol to self-medicate. Patients may also consider drinking to navigate through the delusionary symptoms or to mask them completely.  However, just like any other psychotic condition, even delusional behavior, and the subsequent alcohol abuse, can be effectively managed, provided the patient receives a timely treatment and support.

Most of the delusions may occur subconsciously and as people with such disorders are fully functional, often excelling in their jobs, the true nature of the problem is not understood until it is too late. People with a delusional disorder may abuse alcohol for two reasons. One, as a means to navigate through the mire of negativity and two, as an excuse for their irrational behavior. Another possible reason for the simultaneity of delusional disorder and alcohol abuse is the fact that alcohol abuse affects cognition and results in behaviors that culminated into psychosis. Psychosis or irrational behavior induced by alcohol intake are referred to as alcohol-induced psychosis.

Road to recovery

The co-occurring condition of paranoia and substance abuse can be treated with various treatment modules such as CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing (MI). These treatments help in improving behavioral and cognitive learning of the patient, along with training him or her for symptom management and coping with emotional dysregulation.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any kind of drugs and is suffering from an underlying mental health problem, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about dual diagnosis rehab centers in your vicinity. Our certified representatives available at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 can guide you to the most reliable dual diagnosis facilities. You may also chat online with our experts to seek immediate assistance.