What are the causes and symptoms of alcohol-related neurologic disease?
When a person drinks alcohol, it is absorbed by blood vessels in the stomach lining and flows rapidly throughout the body and brain, as ethanol freely crosses the blood-brain barrier that ordinarily keeps large molecules from escaping from the blood vessel to the brain tissue. Drunkenness, or intoxication, may occur at blood ethanol concentrations of as low as 50-150 mg per dL in people who don’t drink. Sleepiness, stupor, coma, or even death from respiratory depression and low blood pressure occur at progressively higher concentrations. Although alcohol is broken down by the liver, the toxic effects from a high dose of alcohol are most likely a direct result of alcohol itself rather than of its breakdown products. The fatal dose varies widely because people who drink heavily develop a tolerance to the effects of alcohol with repeated use. In addition, alcohol tolerance results in the need for higher levels of blood alcohol to achieve intoxicating effects, which increases the likelihoo