Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Outpatient Management

In all cases, the management of alcohol withdrawal is monitored and managed by an interprofessional team to ensure good outcomes. Chemical dependence is one of the most significant factors in your risk of experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms when you quit drinking. Alcohol dependence occurs after a period of consistent drinking or frequent binge drinking. Drinking every once in a while and even heavy drinking on the weekends may not lead to chemical dependence on alcohol, although it could lead to other dangerous consequences. Dependence is a chemical response to the consistent presence of alcohol in your brain and body.

  1. Dependence is a chemical response to the consistent presence of alcohol in your brain and body.
  2. Seizure medicines can lower your tolerance for alcohol, so the immediate effects of alcohol consumption are greater.
  3. When not properly treated, AWS can progress to delirium tremens (Table 38–10).
  4. This activity reviews the evaluation and management of alcohol withdrawal and highlights the interprofessional team’s role in the recognition and management of this condition.

When someone drinks alcohol for a prolonged period of time and then stops, the body reacts to its absence. This is alcohol withdrawal, and it causes uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. A 2017 review found that a history of alcohol misuse increased the risk of post-traumatic epilepsy in people with traumatic brain injury.

Can a person die from an alcohol-related seizure?

Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention. While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, tom arnold weight loss quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease. Research shows people who have a supportive social network are more likely to remain alcohol-free after withdrawal.

For patients without support, a social worker should be involved to help facilitate addiction rehabilitation. You may also receive other medications or treatments for related health issues, like IV fluids for dehydration and electrolyte imbalances or antinausea medicines if you experience vomiting. It’s difficult to predict who will and who won’t experience alcohol withdrawal — and how severe it will be. Alcohol (ethanol) depresses (slows down) your central nervous system (CNS). If you consistently consume significant amounts of alcohol, your CNS gets used to this effect.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: mechanisms, manifestations, and management

Do not mix anti-seizure medication and alcohol without first speaking to a physician. Drinking alcohol in small amounts generally does not trigger seizures, but seizures can result from alcohol withdrawal. Behavioral treatment programs are helpful for people who want to quit drinking. These programs involve working with a team of mental health professionals in a group and individual setting.

Severe Symptoms

This higher risk of severe withdrawal symptoms can happen even if you’ve used different kinds of central nervous symptom depressants. For instance, if you’ve gone through benzodiazepine withdrawal, you may experience severe withdrawal when going through alcohol withdrawal and vice versa. People with epilepsy should consult their doctor before using alcohol, as alcohol can affect epilepsy medications.

Alcohol use can also trigger seizures in people with epilepsy if withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. Epilepsy can cause seizures to occur with more mild levels of alcohol withdrawal than would occur in most people. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually appear when the individual discontinues or reduces alcohol intake after a period of prolonged consumption. However, healthcare workers should be aware that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and lead to death.

Clinical spectrum

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal tend to peak 24 to 72 hours after your last drink. It affects about 50% of people with alcohol use disorder who stop or significantly decrease their alcohol intake. AUD is the most common substance use disorder in the U.S., affecting 28.8 million adults. If you or someone you care about abuses alcohol, you might be concerned about the negative consequences of drinking too much. Below, you’ll learn more about seizures, how they can be linked to alcohol use, abuse and alcoholism, and how to know whether you or someone you love might be addicted to alcohol. If you seek treatment for an alcohol use disorder, you will likely begin with a medical assessment.

Alcohol withdrawal seizures typically aren’t deadly on their own, but they can lead to dangerous complications. If you’re in a standing position or around dangerous objects, a seizure can cause a potentially fatal accident or injury. Along with alcohol’s other effects on your heart, you could experience dangerous heart-related symptoms, such as stroke or cardiac arrest. Despite its legal status and cultural acceptance, it is a serious psychoactive substance that can profoundly affect your health.