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Alcohol Abuse

 

Articles of Interest:

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Treatment

Alcohol Use and Abuse: An Introduction

Alcohol Dependence, Abuse and Intoxication

Alcohol Withdrawal

Addiction and Abuse Related Disorders

Alcohol Related Psychotic and Mood Disorders

Alcohol Induced Anxiety, Sleep & Sexual Disorders

Alcohol Abuse: How do you assess a problem?

Alcohol Abuse and Related Medical Illnesses

Alcoholism Gene Factors Show Up in Very Young

Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Women

Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Adolescents and the Elderly

Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol Abuse: Matching Treatment With Individuals

Managing Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol Abuse Treatment: Psychosocial Interventions   

Men Tend To Crave Alcohol More Than Women

  Additional Interesting  Addiction Related Articles:

 Alcohol and Cigarettes - An Addictive Alliance   

Addiction Recovery - The Key to Abstinence

Signs of Gambling Addiction  

Website Map/All Articles

 

Alcohol Withdrawal: What does it look like?

What exactly is alcohol withdrawal and what does it look like?

alcohol withdrawalAlcohol withdrawal is a condition that follows a reduction in alcohol consumption or when an alcohol dependent individual stops drinking abruptly. In addition to a high level of distress, alcohol withdrawal is also associated with impairment in social, occupational, and other areas of an individualís functioning. Relatively uncomplicated cases of alcohol withdrawal are usually characterized by signs and symptoms of autonomic hyperactivity, and could possibly include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, hyperthermia, tremor, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and frequently anxiety. Symptoms of uncomplicated alcohol withdrawal usually occur between 4 and 12 hours after an individual has had his last drink of alcohol. The severity of symptoms tend to peak around the second day, usually subsiding by about the fourth or fifth day of abstinence. After this period of time, less anxiety, insomnia and other autonomic symptoms may continue for the next few weeks, with some individuals experiencing prolonged alcohol withdrawal symptoms for up to five or six months after they quit drinking. A minority, but significant number of alcohol dependent individuals (10%) can experience complicated alcohol withdrawal episodes, an alcohol withdrawal delirium also referred to as delirium tremens can occur in approximately 5% of the cases, usually between 36 and 72 hours following alcohol cessation. This condition may be characterized by delusions, auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations, psychomotor agitation, fluctuating cloudiness of consciousness and disorientation. Grand mal seizures are also associated with alcohol withdrawal in between 3% and 5% of the cases, usually within the first 48 hours following the reduction or cessation of alcohol consumption. In both instances of complicated alcohol withdrawal, either the lack or delay of instituting treatment is associated with increased mortality rate. Prior history of delirium tremens and/or alcohol withdrawal seizures, older age, poor nutritional status, comorbid medical conditions and a history of high tolerance to alcohol are predictors of increased severity of alcohol withdrawal.

 

Alcohol Withdrawal Criteria:

The following criteria define alcohol withdrawal:

(A) Cessation or reduction of alcohol use that has been heavy and prolonged.

(B) Two or more the following, developing within several hours to a few days after criteria A above:

  • autonomic hyperactivity (sweating or pulse rate greater than 100)
  • increased hand tremor
  • insomnia
  • nausea or vomiting
  • transient visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations or illusions
  • psychomotor agitation
  • anxiety
  • grand mal seizures
  • (C) The symptoms of criteria B cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    (D) The symptoms are not due to a general medical condition and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder.

    From DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders: Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment by Michael B. First and Allan Tasman

    Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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