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Alcohol Withdrawal

Melanie Rose Gordon, MD Reviewed 06/2022
 


BASICS

DESCRIPTION

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a spectrum of symptoms resulting from abrupt cessation or reduction in alcohol intake, after a period of prolonged use. It ranges from minor symp...

DIAGNOSIS

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V diagnostic criteria for AWS:

    • Two (or more) of the following present within a few hours after the cessation or reduction of he...

TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Goals of therapy:

    • “Provide a safe withdrawal from the drug(s) of dependence.”

    • “Provide humane withdrawal and protect patient’s dignity.”

    • “Prepare patient for ongoin...

ONGOING CARE

FOLLOW-UP RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Managing alcohol withdrawal is only first step toward treating patient’s underlying AUD.

  • Discharge arrangements should include:

    • Development of plan to engage patien...

ADDITIONAL READING

  • Muncie  HL Jr, Yasinian  Y, Oge’  L. Outpatient management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Am Fam Physician.  2013;88(9):589–595. [View Abstract on O...

SEE ALSO

Substance Use Disorders 

CODES

ICD10

  • F10.239 Alcohol dependence with withdrawal, unspecified

  • F10.230 Alcohol dependence with withdrawal, uncomplicated

  • F10.231 Alcohol dependence with withdrawal delirium

  • F10.232 Alcohol dependence...

CLINICAL PEARLS

  • Any BZD dose should be patient specific, sufficient to achieve and maintain a “light somnolence” (e.g., sleeping but easily arousable), and should be tapered off carefully to prevent B...

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