Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1984;10(6):461-465    pdf


Alcohol, work and the nervous system.

by Juntunen J

From the clinical point of view, the nervous system effects of alcohol are the most important when work-related problems are considered. Alcohol is a primary, descending, central nervous system depressant that causes a familiar dose-dependent progression of acute intoxication from euphoria to ataxia, stupor, and ultimately coma. Chronic effects of alcohol on the nervous system are more difficult to diagnose. Particularly an insidiously developing alcoholic psychoorganic syndrome is a very difficult problem in occupational health. The interactions of low-level, chronic exposure to solvents and heavy drinking are interesting but, unfortunately, poorly understood. Withdrawal phenomena ranging from common hangover to tremulousness, cerebral convulsions, and delirium can also severely disturb normal worklife. The multitude of factors which regulate drinking behavior among the working population provides a challenge for investigators in the field of occupational health. More research should be focused on alcohol diseases and their effects on work, the effects of work on alcohol consumption, and the interactions of alcohol and compounds present in the work environment. The first step towards these problems is the development of valid methods for the early detection of heavy drinkers among the working population.