ALCOHOL AND ALCOHOLISM: AN INTRODUCTION FOR THE HEALTH CARE SPECIALIST

The physiological effects of alcohol are discussed, including those resulting from interactions with other drugs and adverse reactions involving persons with chronic diseases. The process of alcoholism is discussed. Its numerous definitions are presented; a favored one is based on the consequences of alcohol use in four life areas (family, police, health, and job). The epidemiology and natural history of alcoholism are described. An abbreviated overview is included of alcohol morbid pictures by body systems: blood producing, circulatory, gastrointestinal, genital and urinary, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, and nervous system. Two important factors about the course of alcoholism in the average patient are noted: expected trouble-free periods from alcohol, and a high rate of response to nonspecific treatments. Treatment of the alcoholic is discussed in terms of two phases: withdrawal and rehabilitation. The most effective regimen for treatment of the syndrome involves intoxication with a drug to which the individual is cross-tolerant (i.e. depressant drug class) and withdrawing him more slowly at a daily decrease by 10% to 20% of first-day dosage. The preferred depressant medications are Librium and Valium. General body supports, including adequate nutrition, rest, and vitamins (especially thiamine), are important. A final physical examination is mandatory. Most rehabilitation programs involve group therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, good physical care, job and home placement efforts, and Antabuse. There is no evidence that continued inpatient rehabilitation is superior to outpatient therapy for the average patient. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers are not advised for the outpatient.

  • Authors:
    • Schuckit, M A
  • Publication Date: 1976-9

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00393724
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-027 109U
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 31 1985 12:00AM