From: email@example.com (James J. Lippard)
Date: 19 Jan 92 20:05:00 GMT
Subject: Re: Drug Forfeiture: What It Is!
The latest issue of _Fortean Times_ (
of "DANGEROUS DRINKING" in which people were overcome by water intoxication.
The first of these cases is most relevant in this newsgroup:
A flight attendant from San Mateo County in California had to take
a urine test at her job in San Francisco International Airport.
She clammed up, or, as the doctors would say, she experienced a
condition known as paruresis, "an inability to void in a crowded or
noisy location" (apparently about 30% of men and 25% of women suffer
She was encouraged to drink as much water as she needed and guzzled
three litres in three hours. Still she couldn't pee. Hours later, the
40-year-old woman staggered into Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame,
her speech slurred, her thinking fuzzy, unable to perform simple
multiplication. At first it was thought she was having a stroke;
but a battery of tests revealed water intoxication as the cause. She was
placed in a quiet, dark room where she voided three litres. Her
brain functions returned to normal in 24 hours.
She was the first drug-test taker known to suffer from this,
according to Burlingame doctors David Klonoff and Andrew H. Jurow
reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2 Jan
1991). There have been only seven other reported cases of healthy
people with the dangerous condition, which causes water-logged brain
cells and a dilution of body minerals. One person died. The
doctors suggested restricting drug-test takers to one litre of
water. San Jose Mercury News via Omaha World-Herald, 4 Jan 1991.
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 1994 16:00:00 LCL
From: "TOWNSEND, RICHARD E." <TOWNSEND.PHARMACY@PHARMSMTP.BITNET>
Subject: water intoxication
Sender: Drug Abuse Education Information and Research <DRUGABUS@UMAB.BITNET>
GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING WATER INTOXICATION
Water intoxication is a state of altered neurological functioning
produced by a hypotonicity in the central nervous system. It
results from the excessive intake of water over a short time
period. The body is unable to remove water from the system as fast
as it is taken in. There are several symptoms related to water
intoxication syndrome (WIS). Water intoxication is manifested by
"restlessness, asthenia, polyuria, frequency of urination,
diarrhea, salivation, nausea, retching, vomiting, muscle tremor,
ataxia, convulsions, frothing, stupor, and coma" (1). WIS seems to
be age independent. WIS has been reported in people as young as
three months old and in those 50 and older. WIS appears to be
particularly prevalent in schizophrenic disorders (SD).
It has been found that people suffering from SD drink on the
average of roughly twice the amount of water as the average
population(1). The prevalence of high water intake in mental
facilities is 6.6%-17.5% higher than the norm. Over 70% of these
people suffer from SD. There seems to be a direct link between
water intake and an increase in the activity of the dopaminergic
system. Thus in these patients, drinking excessive amounts of
water would result in the reward of endogenous opioids being
released in the brain(2). It basically puts them on a high. There
has been a study by Tadashi Nishikawa that shows promising results
of reducing WIS by incorporation of the drug Naloxone(2).
WIS has also been found to be linked with alcoholism. During
periods of prolonged high blood alcohol levels, the body begins to
retain its water. Over time the body adapts this state semi-
permanently(3). Thus an alcoholic has a consistently low water
output. Patients who were characterized with "beer potomania" had
both a history of high chronic alcohol ingestion as well as signs,
symptoms, and lab results that are consistent with WIS(4).
1. Vieweg WVR, David JJ, Rowe WT, et al. Death from self-induced
water intoxication among patients with schizophrenic
disorders. J Nerv Mental Disease 1985;173(3):161-5.
2. Nishikawa T, Tsuda A, Tanaka M, Nishikawa M, Koga I, Uchida Y.
Naloxone attenuates drinking behavior in a schizophrenic
patient displaying self-induced water intoxication. Clinical
Neuropharmacology 1992 Aug;15(4):310-4.
3. Ragland G. Electrolyte abnormalities in the alcoholic patient.
Emerg Med Clin North Am 1990;8(4):761-73.
4. Harrow AS. Beer potomania syndrome in an alcoholic. Va Med