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November 1, 1958


Author Affiliations

Charleston, S. C.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry (Dr. Gadsden) and assistant psychiatric residents (Drs. Mellette and Miller), Medical College of South Carolina.

JAMA. 1958;168(9):1220-1224. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.03000090050011

"Scrap iron", an inexpensive alcoholic beverage, is so named because of its peculiar metallic taste. The chief ingredients are isopropyl alcohol and naphthalene. Fifty patients with scrap iron intoxication have been arbitrarily divided into five groups according to their predominant clinical picture. The largest group consisted of patients with acute brain syndrome as manifested by motor restlessness, hallucinations, illusions, extreme apprehension, tremor, and general disorientation. These symptoms, which are identical to those exhibited by a patient experiencing delirium tremens from ethyl alcohol, are usually reversible on abstinence from alcohol. There is a subsidence of most of the symptoms in the patients with toxic psychoses within several days, simply with supportive therapy consisting of use of fluids, vitamins, and sedation or tranquilizers.