Alcohol withdrawal

Va Med Q. 1997 Summer;124(3):184-7, 189.


There are three concurrent processes involved in the withdrawal from alcohol in an alcohol-dependent person. The first process is the hippocampal calcium channel mechanism diagnosed by the coarse tremor leading, sometimes precipitously, to convulsions. The second process is commonly referred to as alcoholic hallucinosis, and involves the psychoactive biogenic amine, harmine. The third process involves the locus coeruleus and presents as irritability, a fine tremor, autonomic storm, and diaphoresis. Magnesium and phenobarbital are usually sufficient to treat the syndrome of alcohol withdrawal, although neuroleptics may be required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / classification
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / classification
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / therapy


  • Ethanol