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June 1968

Convulsions and Hallucinatory Behavior

Author Affiliations

Lexington, Ky
From the Section of Experimental Neurology, Addiction Research Center (Dr. Essig), and the Department of Surgery, Clinical Research Center (Dr. Lam), National Institute of Mental Health, Lexington, Ky.

Arch Neurol. 1968;18(6):626-632. doi:10.1001/archneur.1968.00470360048004

THERE IS little doubt that alcohol (ethanol) is one of the most commonly abused drugs of addiction in the United States. In addition to other harmful effects of its excess use, alcohol can cause physical dependence. This aspect of alcohol abuse is important from a medical viewpoint because the abstinence reactions that can result from such dependence are not uncommon and some of them can be serious. Thus, delirium tremens has a mortality rate as high as 15%.1

In the past there was some doubt that alcohol could cause physical dependence. It was thought by some that "rum fits" or delirium tremens were associated with alcohol intoxication rather than being precipitated by its withdrawal after physical dependence had developed. The careful clinical observations of Victor and Adams,1 and the controlled experiments of Isbell et al2 in man confirmed that these clinical states are precipitated by

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