Dr. Lucian Vasilescu - Director of the Disintoxication Unit of “Alexandru Obregia” Hospital

Neuropharmacology (alcohol effect on the central nervous system). The transient good mood that sets in after the first glasses of alcohol, the subsequent sedative effect and the wide availability make alcohol the substance which is most frequently used against depression, anxiety or insomnia. However, alcohol consumption for a long time may result in depression, and withdrawal in addicts is accompanied by anxiety.

A proper assessment by the doctor of depressive or anxious patients who drink too much may require examination after several weeks of abstinence. Many people suffering from schizophrenia treat themselves with alcohol when they fail to procure the prescribed medicines or when the medicines hardly help them. In bipolar patients, high alcohol intakes can trigger a maniac episode. Among patients with personality disorders, those with antisocial personalities are highly likely to become addicted to alcohol. There is also a significant association between alcohol addiction and abuse of other substances (drugs), especially nicotine.

Alcohol intoxication
Alcohol intoxication, also called simple intoxication, is the recent ingestion of an alcohol quantity sufficient to cause acute maladaptive behavioral changes (behaviors difficulty acceptable by the society, such as: aggressiveness, violence, sexual disinhibition, which put the concerned person in ridiculous, dangerous or even illegal situations).

Signs and symptoms
While mild intoxication can make a person be relaxed, talkative and euphoric and have no inhibitions, severe intoxication may cause irritability, changing moods from joy to sadness or distress, aggressiveness, alteration of the capacity to reason, degradation of the social function or of the work capacity.

The concerned persons have signs such as unclear speaking, unstable walking, incapacity to coordinate gestures, diminished reflexes, nystagmus (involuntary movements of the eyes), congestion of the face, memory problems. Very severe intoxication can result in a slowdown of thinking and gestures, isolated behavior, blackouts (memory black holes) and finally obnubilation, coma and death.

Frequent complications of alcohol intoxication include: traffic accidents, cranial traumatisms, rib fractures, criminal acts, homicide, suicide or aggravation of existing disorders.

Correlation between blood alcohol content expressed in mg/dl and corresponding effects:

  • 5-15 – euphoria, disinhibition;
  • 20-30 – diminished motor performance and lower thinking ability;
  • 30 – 80 – enhanced motor and cognitive problems;
  • 80 – 200 – incapacity to coordinate movements, reasoning errors, labile mood; degraded cognition;
  • 200 – 300 – nystagmus, unclear speech, blackouts;
  • over 300 – coma, altered vital signs, possibly death.

The doctor will always have to perform a complete check. He may discover a cranial hematoma as a result of a traumatism, a concomitant infection, a liver or stomach disorder.