Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol intoxication is the most common alcohol-induced disorder. It is a reversible syndrome characterized by slurred speech, impaired judgment, disinhibition, mood lability, motor incoordination, cognitive impairment, and impaired social or occupational functioning. These effects vary according to setting, mental set, dose, and tolerance of the individual, and are a result of a direct stimulant effect of alcohol on norepinephrine and dopamine systems, combined with inhibition of the stimulating effect of the glutamate-mediated NMDA receptor and facilitation of the inhibiting function of the GABA system.

A blood alcohol level of 30 mg% will produce a euphoric effect in most individuals who are not tolerant. At 50 mg%, the central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects of alcohol become prominent, with associated motor coordination problems and some cognitive deficits. In most states, the legal level of intoxication is 80 mg%. At levels greater than 250 mg%, significant confusion and a decreased state of consciousness may occur. Alcoholic coma may occur at this level, and at greater than 400 mg%, death may result. Because of tolerance, some heavy drinkers may not show these effects even at high blood levels.

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