Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndromes

  • Lucas A. Mikulic
  • Garth W. GarrisonEmail author


Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) accounts for 16–31% of all intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and carries with it a mortality of 15% if left untreated. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be divided into three broad categories: CNS excitation, autonomic hyperactivity, and psychosis. When psychosis or delirium tremens (DTs) is present, mortality is 3–5%. The management of alcohol withdrawal is directed towards alleviating symptoms of withdrawal and avoiding its progression into seizures or DTs. Current management is centered on the administration of benzodiazepines in symptom-triggered escalating dose strategy. Barbiturates can be administered together with benzodiazepines or as monotherapy for the treatment of AWS. Other medications, like propofol, dexmedetomidine, clonidine, or haloperidol have been used successfully as adjuvant therapy to ameliorate AWS symptoms.


Alcohol abuse Alcohol withdrawal Delirium tremens Benzodiazepine Phenobarbital Propofol Dexmedetomidine Seizure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Morton Plant HospitalClearwaterUSA
  2. 2.University of Vermont Medical CenterBurlingtonUSA

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