Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Benzodiazepines and Beyond.
Alcohol dependence is an increasing and pervasive problem. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a part of alcohol dependence syndrome and are commonly encountered in general hospital settings, in most of the departments. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome ranges from mild to severe. The severe complicated alcohol withdrawal may present with hallucinations, seizures or delirium tremens. Benzodiazepines have the largest and the best evidence base in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal, and are considered the gold standard. Others, such as anticonvulsants, barbiturates, adrenergic drugs, and GABA agonists have been tried and have evidence. Supportive care and use of vitamins is essential in the management. Symptom triggered regime is favoured over fixed tapering dose regime, although monitoring through scales is cumbersome. This article aims to review the evidence base for appropriate clinical management of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome. We searched Pubmed for articles published in English on 'Alcohol withdrawal syndrome' in humans during the last 10 years. A total of 1182 articles came up. Articles not relevant to clinical utility and management were excluded based on the titles and abstract available. Full text articles, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials were obtained from this list and were considered for review.
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