Alcohol Withdrawal

Many alcoholics develop symptoms of withdrawal when in custody. Their acquired tolerance to and physical dependence on alcohol is a manifestation of compensatory neuropsychological changes that offset the drug's CNS depressant effects. When alcohol intake is abruptly stopped on incarceration, the compensatory changes give rise to signs and symptoms of withdrawal (176). The severity of the symptoms depends mainly on the amount and duration of alcohol intake, although other factors, such as concurrent withdrawal from other drugs, like benzodiazepines, may contribute to the clinical picture (177).

Alcohol withdrawal may present as a mild picture of uncomplicated alcohol withdrawal or as the more severe syndrome of alcohol withdrawal delirium (DSM-IV criteria).

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