Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented, a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in the food into alcohol. Alcohol has different forms and can be used as a cleaner or antiseptic; however the kind of alcohol that people drink is ethanol, which is a sedative. When alcohol is consumed, it’s absorbed into a person’s bloodstream. From there, it affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions. Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a person’s perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.
Alcohol withdrawal occurs as a result of neuro-adaptation resulting from chronic exposure to alcohol. A withdrawal syndrome occurs upon declining blood levels of alcohol which can be alleviated by reintroduction of alcohol or a cross-tolerant agent. Alcohol withdrawal is characterized by neuropsychiatric excitability and autonomic disturbances similar to other sedative-hypnotic drugs. Dependence on other sedative-hypnotics increases the severity of the withdrawal syndrome.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is the set of symptoms seen when an individual reduces or stops alcohol consumption after prolonged periods of excessive alcohol intake. Excessive abuse of alcohol leads to tolerance, physical dependence, and an alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The withdrawal syndrome is largely due to the central nervous system being in a hyper-excitable state. Alcohol withdrawal can include seizures and can be fatal.