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THE PHYSIOLOGY OF ALCOHOL

Harold E. Himwich, M.D.
JAMA. 1957;163(7):545-549. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.82970420003009.
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ABSTRACT

The present paper of this series of papers on alcoholism is concerned chiefly with physiological actions. As an aid in understanding these actions in terms of alterations in behavior and methods of treatment, the changes that take place in the ingested alcohol in the body are included. What does alcohol do? What are the effects of its oxidative products? What part do they play, for example, in treatment with disulfiram (Antabuse)? Alcohol, like most things used by man, can be employed to his benefit or to his disadvantage, and in this report some of the fundamental bases for the use and abuse of alcohol will be presented.

Alcohol affects all the cells of the body, but the most dramatic results of the ingestion of alcohol are exerted on the brain and are made apparent by alterations in behavior. Textbooks of pharmacology refer to alcohol as a depressant of the central

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