Episode 144

Published on:

15th May 2024

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal: Timing, Symptoms, and Treatments

In the latest episode of "Cracking Addiction," Dr Ferghal continues the journey with Dr Richard, exploring the critical subject of alcohol withdrawal. This episode is particularly focused on the timings, the natural history of withdrawal symptoms, and the potential complications faced during alcohol detoxification. The discourse provides key insights on when symptoms typically appear, ranging from mild to severe cases, and discusses methods of intervention based on the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

**Learning Outcomes:**

1. **Understanding the Onset of Alcohol Withdrawal:** This episode helps listeners grasp the variable onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms which can appear from 12 to 24 hours after the last drink. Ferghal and Richard explain the concept of 'day two' of withdrawal, enhancing understanding of the physiological changes happening in the body during this time.

2. **Risk Factors and Complications:** The conversation thoroughly covers potential complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing past withdrawal histories and comorbidities that heighten withdrawal complications, which proves crucial for healthcare providers in assessing risk.

3. **Ethical and Effective Treatment Strategies:** Highlighting the dangers of protocol-driven approaches in detoxification settings, Richard points out the importance of tailored treatment plans. They discuss the use of diazepam to manage symptoms effectively and the strategies to mitigate risks such as 'kindling.'

4. **Proper Management of Seizures and Delirium:** Key strategies for managing severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures and delirium tremens (DTs) are elaborated on, including the avoidance of certain medications and the focus on benzodiazepine regulation.

**Actionable Takeaways:**

1. **Recognise the Early Signs:** Listeners are encouraged to identify early withdrawal symptoms to initiate timely treatment, potentially preventing the escalation towards more severe complications such as DTs.

2. **Avoid High-Protocol Rigidity:** The importance of flexibility in treatment protocols was underscored, stressing individual patient needs over rigid guidelines, which might prevent effective symptom management.

3. **Prepare For Seizure Management:** Understanding that alcohol withdrawal seizures could peak around 24 hours post-last ingestion, healthcare providers should monitor and adjust benzodiazepine dosages accordingly.

4. **Psychosocial Aspects of Withdrawal:** Addressing withdrawal is not just about managing physical symptoms but also involves supporting the patient’s psychological well-being to enhance recovery success rates.

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About the Podcast

Cracking Addiction
Cracking Addiction Podcast
Welcome to Cracking Addiction, the show that delves deep into the world of addiction medicine. Hosted by Addiction Medicine Specialist Dr Ferghal Armstrong, this podcast covers a broad range of addiction-related topics, from the science behind addiction to the various treatment options available.

Each week, the hosts provide listeners with engaging and informative discussions on all aspects of addiction medicine. From alcohol and drug addiction to gambling addiction, they explore the various types of addiction and their impact on individuals, families, and communities.

With a focus on evidence-based information, Cracking Addiction provides listeners with a comprehensive understanding of addiction, including the latest research and treatment options. Whether you are struggling with addiction or simply interested in learning more about the topic, this podcast is an excellent resource.

The show also features regular guests and experts who share their insights and experiences on addiction-related topics.

With new episodes released every week, Cracking Addiction is your go-to source for the latest information and insights on addiction medicine. So join us as we explore this complex and fascinating topic and work to break the cycle of addiction.

Visit our website for more information and free courses https://go.meducate.com.au/courses

About your host

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Dr Ferghal Armstrong

Dr Ferghal Armstrong is a general practitioner, Addiction Medicine Specialist (FAChAM), accredited MATOD trainer as well as the CEO and co-founder of Meducate