Diseases of the Nervous System in Chronic Alcoholics

  • Pierre M. Dreyfus


The abusive consumption of alcoholic beverages deranges normal function of the nervous system in various ways. The most common neurological or psychological disturbances are associated with elevated blood alcohol levels and symptoms of inebriation. These are followed in order of frequency by syndromes caused by alcohol withdrawal (delirium tremens, hallucinosis, and rum fits) and by a group of metabolic disorders related to the nutritional depletion frequently associated with protracted and steady drinking (in contrast to spree or periodic drinking). Whereas the various symptoms of inebriation and withdrawal are generally reversible, the nutritionally determined diseases may cause serious irreversible damage to part of the central and peripheral nervous systems. While the clinical and pathological features of the neurological diseases engendered by chronic alcoholism have been documented in great detail, their etiology has been only partially elucidated and their pathogenesis remains essentially unknown and a matter of speculation. In this chapter only the neurological syndromes of the central nervous system encountered in the chronic alcoholic patient will be discussed; disorders of the peripheral nervous system and those neurological syndromes caused by periodic inebriation or withdrawal have been covered in previous chapters.


Thiamine Deficiency Neurological Syndrome Chronic Alcoholism Mammillary Body Cerebellar Degeneration 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre M. Dreyfus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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