Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Alcohol Abstinence Syndrome Overview

Another name for Alcohol Abstinence Syndrome is Alcohol Withdrawal.

What is alcohol withdrawal?
A person with alcohol withdrawal has suddenly stopped drinking alcohol after drinking regularly for a prolonged time. Alcohol withdrawal occurs within 12 to 72 hours after drinking has stopped, and symptoms can last for 2 to 10 days.

What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?
Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, restlessness, and tremors. Symptoms of worsening alcohol withdrawal include vomiting, confusion, and hallucinations.

How does the doctor treat alcohol withdrawal?
Treatment for alcohol withdrawal includes fluids, B vitamins, and medications to control anxiety and reduce alcohol craving. Medications may be required to lower blood pressure in those with alcohol withdrawal.

Continue to Alcohol Abstinence Syndrome Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 5, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcohol Abstinence Syndrome References
  1. Addolorato G, Balducci G, Capristo E: Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome: a randomized comparative study versus benzodiazepine. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1999 Oct; 23(10): 1596-604. [10549990]
  2. Castaneda R, Cushman P: Alcohol withdrawal: a review of clinical management. J Clin Psychiatry 1989 Aug; 50(8): 278-84. [2569456]
  3. Mayo-Smith MF, American Society of Addiction Medicine Working Group on Pharmacology: Pharmacological management of alcohol withdrawal: A meta-analysis and evidence-based practice guideline. JAMA 1997; 278: 144-151. [9214531]
  4. O'Connor PG, Schottenfeld RS: Patients with alcohol problems. N Engl J Med 1998 Feb 26; 338(9): 592-602. [9475768]
  5. Olmedo R, Hoffman RS: Withdrawal syndromes. Emerg Med Clin North Am 2000 May; 18(2): 273-88. [10767884]
  6. Turner RC, Lichstein PR, Peden JG Jr, et al: Alcohol withdrawal syndromes: a review of pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and treatment. J Gen Intern Med 1989 Sep-Oct; 4(5): 432-44. [2677272]
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