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01 Dec 2005

Morphine, alcohol and hallucinations

This is not an urgent query, but I only ask for interest sake. A friend of mine was in hospital a few months ago for a back operation. The operation went very well, but he can't remember his time in hospital, and the entire time there he got very bad hallucinations (believing he got phonecalls that things happened to people he know, that everyone one in the hospital was there to kill him, that his wife left him for someone else etc etc). The hospital moved him to a private ward, and eventually asked his wife to stay with him the entire time, because they couldn't handle him anymore. They discarged him a week early, and told his wife to buy him a six pack of beer for the road home (approximately a 5 hour drive). The hallucinations lasted for a few days after he was discharged. He and his wife think it is because of the morphine he was given, and that he got too much morphine. He received it with one of the buttons you can press yourself, and they said that the thing didn't restrict the amount of morphine that he could give himself. I'm saying that it is withdrawal of alcohol, because he owns a pub and has been drinking every day for the past 10 years. I feel that the hospital might have also felt it was withdrawal of alcohol because they told his wife to buy the beer to be able to get him home. He never did drink any of the beer, because he kept on dropping them. I'll never tell them my opinion, but would like to know what could've been the cause of the hallucinations.

Thank you
Answer 1,176 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Alexa,
It could have been due to alcohol withdrawal, or abnormal electrolytes in his blood because of the op or because he did not take in enough fluids - there are a list as long as my arm for this scenario. The morphine usually knocks one out but does not normally cause hallucinations. It can make him forgetful though. Patients rarely overdose themselves with morphine as it makes you nauseous.
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