Recovery Function and Clinical Symptomatology in Acute Alcoholization and Withdrawal

  • Henri Begleiter
  • Milton M. Gross
  • Bernice Porjesz
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 35)


Withdrawal has often been considered a phenomenon which occurs only after the cessation of long-term alcohol intake. The occurrence of withdrawal signs and symptoms upon cessation of alcohol ingestion is evidence of physiological dependence. It has also been postulated by Seevers and Deneau (1964) that physical dependence is characterized by hyperexcitability of the central nervous system. Consequently, we recently undertook to study changes in brain excitability of alcoholics, during alcoholization and withdrawal. We used the recovery function of somatosensory evoked potentials to assess changes in CNS excitability. Our findings (Begleiter, Porjesz and Yerre, in press) demonstrated that an increase of central nervous system excitability results from the cessation of alcohol intake, even after short periods of drinking. The state of hyperexcitability increases as drinking progresses and appears to reach a peak approximately 34 hours subsequent to withdrawal from prolonged alcohol ingestion. Three days after cessation of alcohol intake, our recovery function values return to normal. Our data support the hypothesis that partial withdrawal is manifested by a latent rebound hyperexcitability which occurs subsequent to depression of the central nervous system by alcohol.


Alcohol Withdrawal Recovery Function Acute Alcoholization Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Withdrawal Sign 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henri Begleiter
    • 1
  • Milton M. Gross
    • 1
  • Bernice Porjesz
    • 1
  1. 1.Div. of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, Dept. of PsychiatryDownstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA

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