Purpose of Review:
This review serves as an overview of neurologic conditions associated with alcohol abuse or withdrawal, including epidemiology, clinical symptoms, diagnostic approach, and treatment.
Frequent alcohol abuse and frank alcoholism are very common among adults in the United States. Although rates decline with each decade, as many as 10% of the elderly drink excessively. Given the ubiquitous nature of alcoholism in society, its complications have been clinically recognized for generations, with recent advances focusing on improved understanding of ethanol’s biochemical targets and the pathophysiology of its complications.
The chronic effects of alcohol abuse are myriad and include neurologic complications through both direct and indirect effects on the central and peripheral nervous systems. These disorders include several encephalopathic states related to alcohol intoxication, withdrawal, and related nutritional deficiencies; acute and chronic toxic and nutritional peripheral neuropathies; and myopathy. Although prevention of alcoholism and its neurologic complications is the optimal strategy, this article reviews the specific treatment algorithms for alcohol withdrawal and its related nutritional deficiency states.