Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment delirium tremens questions for doctor specialist Home Care diet stress vomiting warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause

Alcohol Withdrawal Home Care

Home care for alcohol withdrawal includes:

  • Strict avoidance of alcohol.
  • Increase your intake of fluids.
  • Take vitamin B supplements.
  • Balanced diet
  • Reduce personal stress
  • Control nausea and vomiting
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Alcohol Withdrawal Diet

A person with alcohol withdrawal may benefit from the following diet.

Strategies for a healthy diet include:

  • Limit your intake of fat to 30% of your total calories.
  • 10% to 15% of your total calories should be in the form of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil.
  • Consume only unsaturated fats that are low in cholesterol.
  • Consume less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day.
  • Eat dietary fiber: whole grains are best.
  • Avoid fad diets.
  • Check with your doctor about B vitamin supplements. Some people may benefit from B vitamins.

Dietary Recommendations
NutrientRecommendation
Energy (calories)to maintain BMI of < 25
Total fats< or = to 30% of total daily calories
Saturated fats< 7% of total daily calories
Polyunsaturated fats< 10% of total daily calories
Monounsaturated fats< 13% of total daily calories
Cholesterol< or = to 300 mg per day
Dietary fiber25-30 grams per day
Fiber type3:1 insoluble to soluble fiber
Sodium< or = to 1,500 mg per day
Calcium 9-24 yrs1,200-1,500 mg per day
Calcium 25-50 yrs1,000 mg per day
Calcium 51-65 yrs1,200 mg per day
Calcium >65 yrs1,500 mg per day
Vitamin D 9-50 yrs200 IU
Vitamin D 51-70 yrs400 IU
Vitamin D >70 yrs600 IU
Folic acid400 micrograms (ug) per day
Fruits & vegetables5-7 servings per day

Alcohol Withdrawal Stress

Tips to manage stress in a person who is having alcohol withdrawal:

  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Allow yourself to experience simple pleasures that give you joy.
  • Ask for help if you need it.
  • Associate with people you enjoy and who treat you well.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Do not be dominated by one thing, such as work or relationships.
  • Do not feel guilty when you have to say "no" to extra duties or tasks.
  • Donate some of your time in order to help others.
  • Energize your body with regular exercise.
  • Engage in hobbies.
  • Fuel your body with healthy foods
  • Have the courage to be imperfect.
  • Make a list of all the stresses that cause you distress: dispose of the ones you can and reduce your exposure to the others as much as possible.
  • Practice relaxation and meditation.
  • Reevaluate and rearrange your priorities.
  • Schedule time for fun. Laughter dissolves tension.
  • Seek professional help when you are overwhelmed.
  • Stay on a regular sleep schedule.
  • Take a few minutes of quiet time each day.
  • Take responsibility for how you feel.
  • Talk with someone you trust.
  • Avoid stimulants, such as:

Alcohol Withdrawal Vomiting

Home care for vomiting in a person who is having alcohol withdrawal:

  • Drink clear liquids only, such as water, sports drinks, fruit juice and dilute tea. Sports drinks are best. The absence of food allows the intestines to rest.
  • Drink small quantities of fluids frequently. In general, two tablespoons of fluid every 5 minutes is an effective strategy.
  • Avoid milk and dairy products for 3 days.
  • Avoid liquids that irritate the stomach, such as citrus juice, alcohol and coffee.
  • If nausea or vomiting continues despite the above, consider one of the nonprescription medicines listed below.
  • Once vomiting and nausea resolves, start bland foods first. If you tolerate bland food, then you can resume a normal diet.

Nonprescription medications for vomiting include:

Alcohol Withdrawal Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you are having alcohol withdrawal and any of the following:

Continue to Alcohol Withdrawal Outlook

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcohol Withdrawal 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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