Pathic drunkenness (ebrietas pathica) is a very rare condition associated with disturbance of consciousness, which is closely related to the consumption of alcohol and chronic alcoholism. However, it may occur not only in alcoholics, everyone may be affected including the exceptional and occasional alcohol consumers. The issue of pathic drunkenness is interesting not only for the doctors, but also for the lawyers.
The exact cause is not clear; the condition is a reaction of the central nervous system to alcohol. The dose is quite individual and sometimes, the state may occur after a single drink. There is assumed a certain genetic influence and outer risk factors such as exhaustion or nervousness.
The pathic drunkenness begins as a sudden impairment of the consciousness in sense of disorientation, confusion and impaired perception of reality. The affected individual may become acting paranoid, aggressive or performs purposeless activities. The condition usually lasts only shortly and it is followed by amnesia.
In some countries, the diagnosis of idiopathic drunkenness is of great importance from a legal point of view, since the patient is classified as irresponsible for his or her behavior. That is a big difference compared to crimes carried out in state of “ordinary” drunkenness when the accused voluntarily drank alcohol.
The pathic drunkenness is a rare condition and the diagnosis should be based on a very cautious examination by a skilled psychiatrist.
The condition is usually short-term. It is necessary to ensure bed rest and avoid the affected person to harm oneself or other people. Tranquilizers and sedative medications may be used.