Nursing Care for Patients with Acute Alcohol Withdrawal

Nursing Care for Patients with Acute Alcohol Withdrawal


In order to provide proper and standard care to all patients having problems regarding the abuse of alcohol substances, this article tends to explain such facts and important information about acute alcohol withdrawal. Included here is its definition as to how or when would a certain person be considered as an alcoholic person and the reasons which could lead to such a problem.

In order for people to understand or recognize when does this kind of behavior towards drinking alcohol be considered an addiction, discussion of certain symptoms and/or signs. Furthermore, this article also includes the proper and appropriate care which nursing should provide such as treatment or information in order to help those who are said to be experiencing an addiction to alcohol.

Acute Alcohol Withdrawal and how it is caused

Acute alcohol withdrawal is the worst result of abusing the body by drinking alcohol. It is the state by which a certain person is already intoxicated by his or her abusive intake of the alcoholic substances. This kind of health problem is said to have two certain syndromes namely the alcohol withdrawal syndrome and alcohol withdrawal delirium (Holloway, 2003).

Acute alcohol withdrawal is basically caused by the effect of the ethyl alcohol which directly attack’s a certain person’s central nervous system. This explains that when ethyl alcohol is taken up, the substance go directly through people’s blood circulation wherein the most percent of it which accounted 95% percent are filtered first at the liver of a human’s body and the other remaining percentage go directly to the human lungs along into the kidneys and also to the skin. The alcohol will then metabolize at the liver and thus turn it into acetic acid and then the acid into carbon dioxide and water in the process of the citric acid process (Holloway, 2003).

Alcohol is said to be a depressant that mainly affects a human’s CNS or central nervous system which will lead to different levels or the brain being directly affected too. This substance tends to affect the CNS by attacking first the GABA or the gamma-aminobutyric acid which purpose is to make a break on the CNS which could lead to exciting the euphoria of the brain. Continuous intake of alcohol substances will then lead into the depression of other brain parts such as cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and thus even the midbrain. This impact in the different parts of the human brain would then lead into the depression of the other systems of the body which includes the cardiac system and respiratory system. In addition to this, the effect of ethyl alcohol in a human’s body could lead into the depression of the body’s spinal reflexes and worst it could lead into death (Holloway, 2003).

Abusive intake of alcohol which is said to be directly making a negative impact in human’s CNS is therefore caused when the central nervous system seeks for more intake of alcoholic substance in order for it to do its normal functions wherein if ever the intake of alcohol substance is tended to be stopped, the CNS reacts and gets excited (Holloway, 2003).

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Early Stage:                                         Late Stage:

è Hangover                                           à delirium

è Tremulousness                                   à tremor

è Nausea                                                           à hallucination

è Sweating                                            à confusion

(Dawson, 2002)

These signs are said to be the early and late signs of drinkers who are nearly getting to be alcohol substance addicted. Continuous and thus excessive drinking of alcohol will certainly cause people to be out of their natural brain function and also physical dependence of human body to alcohol will lead into different health complications.

The Risk of Alcohol Dependent Treatments on Patient

In the process of withdrawal, alcohol-addicted patients are asked to drink lesser and lesser until they could totally manage their physical and mental stability even without the alcohol substance. This process is said to be a long-term process in order for patients to fully recover from being an alcohol-dependent and thus it has lots of accompanying risks toward the patient during the process of alcohol intake reduction.

Danger towards the patient of alcohol dependence is at the high level of probability during the withdrawal process because the large amount of alcohol substance that used to trigger the excitement of the central nervous system will be reduced and thus the CNS along with the other brain parts affected will need long period of time in order to cope up with the decrease of the alcohol intake.

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Risks on Alcohol Dependents during Treatments

è GI or gastrointestinal disorder

·         Ulcer

·         Bleeding

·         Pancreatitis

è Hypertension

è Immunologic problem/disorder

è Wasting of the body’s skeletal muscles

Risk on medication Treatment

è Dementia

è Liver damage

è Depression

è Psychosis

(Dawson, 2002)

These risks toward alcohol-dependent patients will cause a great impact on their life and health safety and thus serious complications of the human physical state are a part of the said risks.

Plan of Care

The process of giving treatment to the patients regarding alcohol abuse should be done individually because the patients’ level of severity of the addiction is said to be different from each other. Those patients who are considered in the low level of alcohol dependence can be cured without using drug therapy and thus all they need is a quiet place, less lightings, limited social interactions, proper nutrition and proper amount of water fluid intake, and also reassurance that they will get over the addiction with the family’s encouragement to do so (Saucier, 2004).

On the other hand, those patients who have a moderate going to high level of alcohol dependence will be treated with drug therapy in order to make their risk lesser. This medication process is consisting of two divisions which include traditional fixed-schedule dosing or the process of medication wherein the patients receive a certain dosage of required medicine which is commonly benzodiazepine. This kind of medicine is given to the patient every after six consecutive hours in the span of two days. Then every interval of the medication schedule, the dosage will be lessened by the health provider on a regular basis of intervals. The other medication approach is the symptom-triggered dosing. This approach of medication goes just like the fixed-schedule dosage approach but lesser on the amount of the medication and thus it provides a faster detoxification process on the patient (Saucier, 2004).




In the country of the United States, it has been statistically reported that there has been an approximate account of 8.2 million patients in different hospitals due to alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse. There are estimated 15% to 20% of people who are under the care provision of certain primary care units and hospitals as it is recorded. The dependence of a certain person to an abusive substance such as alcohol will not be determined unless symptoms are already visible and thus symptoms are already attacking the patient’s physical and mental health status (Saucier, 2004).

How to Deal with Family Members

The family as the primary group of people who influence a certain person could stabilize the experiences that their family member is experiencing due to the patient’s withdrawal from alcohol. The other family members could make a simple talk with the alcoholic patient so as to make him or her realize that alcoholic substances won’t do any good but of course avoid such conversation imposing how wrong the patient was for being an alcohol-dependent (Bill, 2007).

The family members could encourage the patient to ventilate or to expose him or her emotions towards his or her current condition. Parents and other family members could also encourage the patient to set up his or her goals in order to get over with what he or she had gone through. It is also important for each individual in the family to know the appropriate foods that will provide the right nutrition for the patient to recover easily from the addiction (Bill, 2007).

Every member of the family and also friends could create a great impact of influence towards a certain patient of alcohol addiction and therefore they should show their care and understanding towards the patient. By doing this, the patient could easily accept and forget what he or she had done wrong through his or her life and move on to start a new one.


Bill. (2007). Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (Why we don’t get better immediately) [Electronic Version]. Retrieved December 3 from

Dawson, J. S. (2002). Pharmacology: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Holloway, N. M. (2003). Medical-Surgical Care Planning: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Saucier, A. E. K. a. J. (2004). Is your patient suffering from alcohol withdrawal? [Electronic Version]. Retrieved December 3 from

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