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Alcohol Withdrawal During Hospitalization

Keys, Vicky A. MSN, RN-BC

AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000393058.86439.9e
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Abstract

Overview: For a chronic drinker, sudden alcohol withdrawal because of an unexpected hospitalization can lead to escalating withdrawal symptoms and even death if unrecognized and untreated. Nurses need to be aware of the prevalence of alcohol abuse in the United States and consider the possibility of unplanned alcohol withdrawal in their patients. This article discusses the effects on the body of chronic alcohol intake, the potential symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and ways to recognize and treat these symptoms through early assessment and consistent intervention.

Keywords: alcohol abuse, alcoholism, alcohol withdrawal, alcohol withdrawal delirium, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Scale, Revised, hospitalization, substance withdrawal syndrome

In Brief

This article discusses the effects on the body of chronic alcohol intake, the potential symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and ways for nurses to recognize and treat these symptoms.

Author Information

Vicky A. Keys is a nurse educator serving the medical and surgical units at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Washington. Contact author: vkeys@peacehealth.org. The author of this article has no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity. Emergency is coordinated by Polly Gerber Zimmermann, MS, MBA, RN, CEN: pollyzimmermann@msn.com.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.