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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Alcohol withdrawal/dangers

03/01/2007

Question:

is it safe for a person to withdrawal at home alone and if so what should be the danger signs they should look out for.

Answer:

It would not be safe for a person to withdraw from alcohol alone and at home. Alcohol withdrawal should only be down with medical supervision. Withdrawal from alcohol can be uncomplicated or life threatening (fatal in about 10% of cases). In any case, there will be alcohol withdrawal symptoms that will need medical management.

With medical supervision, mild to moderate withdrawal may be managed at home on an outpatient basis. This is a decision that should only be made with consultation from a physician or treatment program that has medical supervision available. An assessment of alcohol use duration and amount of consumption is needed along with other clinical examinations and clinical workup.

Individual responses to withdrawal vary based on a variety of issues including:

It is difficult to predict the course of withdrawal without a full clinical picture before a treatment approach is determined.

Withdrawal symptoms include coarse tremors of the hands, tongue, eyelids and one or more of the following:

Attempting to withdraw from alcohol without medical management is difficult, dangerous, and can lead to a medical emergency. With the management by a physician throughout the process, withdrawal can be accomplished with support and success.

For more information:

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Response by:

Janice Dyehouse, PhD, RN
Adjunct Professor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati