Which substances and medication may cause delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Substance intoxication  with alcohol, heroin, cannabis, PCP, and LSD may cause symptoms of delirium. Withdrawal from these substances may also contribute.

Medication-induced delirium can be caused by any of the following agents:

  • Anticholinergics (Benadryl, tricyclic antidepressants)

  • Narcotics (meperidine)

  • Sedative hypnotics (benzodiazepines)

  • Histamine-2 (H2) blockers (cimetidine)

  • Corticosteroids

  • Centrally acting antihypertensives (methyldopa, reserpine)

  • Anti-Parkinson drugs (levodopa)

Other causes may include postictal state and unfamiliar environment.

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