Withdrawal Syndrome, Withdrawal Seizures and the CIWA Scale

Withdrawal syndromeWithdrawal syndrome refers to is a set of symptoms that occurs when a person discontinues using a drug or when he reduces the dosage of the drug. Not all drugs will result in withdrawal symptoms but some prescription drugs and other drugs of recreation will result in withdrawal syndrome when one discontinues using them. For example a person who has been using alcohol for a long time will suffer withdrawal syndrome when he reduces the amounts he takes or when he stops taking alcohol completely. Normally the withdrawal syndrome will result in the patient taking more of the drug and for a longer time. In case of alcohol the withdrawal syndrome may make the addict to continue using alcohol as an escapade or other to mitigate the effects of the severe withdrawal symptoms.

People using different drugs will suffer withdrawal syndrome when they stop using the drugs or when they reduce the dosage, however there will be different symptoms. For example a person who has stopped using opiates will exhibit such symptoms as; Shaky hands, Sweating, Mild anxiety, Nausea and/or vomiting, headache and Insomnia. On the other hand a person who has stopped using opiates will exhibit the following withdrawal syndrome symptoms; muscle ache, restlessness, anxiety, lacrimation (eyes tearing up), runny nose, excessive sweating, inability to sleep and yawning very often. Withdrawal syndrome will most likely affect someone who has used the substance of abuse for so long that he has got dependent on the drug. It does not only happen to those who ate suing the recreational drugs alone but can also happen with prescription drugs. For example many people who are prescribed opioids to help manage their pain end up exhibiting withdrawal syndrome symptoms and in most cases have to be helped to quit using the drugs that were once given with medical intentions.

Withdrawal seizures

Withdrawal seizures may occur as a withdrawal syndrome symptom. It refers to the convulsions that occur when a person has stopped using a drug he has been using for a long time. It is common to users of opiates and alcohol addicts. As for alcoholics it occurs in up to one-third of alcoholics when they abruptly reduce their alcohol intake, the effects of which peak within 24 hours after the most recent alcohol ingestion. These seizures are in most cases brief or partial. It however should not be taken lightly since if not taken care of in good time an alcoholic who suffers seizures may develop delirium tremens. Most alcohol withdrawal seizures normally resolve spontaneously or respond well to benzodiazepines but the risk of delirium tremens should not be overlooked. In most addicts it is said that withdrawal seizures is responsible for their physical injuries such as burns and wounds.

Withdrawal delirium

Withdrawal delirium is common among alcoholics. In fact it is the most severe form of withdrawal syndromes associated with alcoholism. It causes sudden and severe problems in your brain and nervous system. It is approximated that five percent of hospital patients being treated for alcohol withdrawal also experience Alcohol withdrawal delirium. Alcohol Withdrawal delirium is also known as delirium tremens or Delirium tremens. It is a medical emergency.

Alcohol withdrawal delirium is mostly caused by sudden stop in alcohol consumption after a long time of heavy drinking. However other causes may include; reduce their alcohol use too quickly, don’t eat enough when reducing alcohol use, have a head injury and infections. A person suffering from alcohol will show the following symptoms among others;

  • hallucinations
  • nightmares
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • restlessness
  • chest pain
  • excitement
  • fear
  • sudden mood changes
  • delirium
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to sound
  • sensitivity to touch
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • delusions

Treating alcohol withdrawal delirium

Firstly, you should know that withdrawal delirium can cause death and so treatments should only take place in hospital. It is also crucial that the patient should access treatment as soon as possible. When a delirium tremens patient has been taken to hospital the doctors may employ the following means to treat him;   anticonvulsants to prevent or stop seizures, sedatives to calm agitation and treat anxiety, antipsychotic medications to prevent hallucinations, medication to reduce fever, treatment for other alcohol related conditions and rehabilitation to help you stop drinking and avoid future cases of the disease striking again.

Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol

Withdrawal SyndromeOften abbreviated as CIWA, Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol is an item that is used in assessment and management of alcohol withdrawal. The main purpose of the CIWA scale is to provide an efficient and objective means of assessing alcohol withdrawal. The scale is used to test for severity of the common withdrawal syndrome symptoms independently after which the aggregates will be used as an insight into the severity of alcohol withdrawal. The ranges on the scale show what should be done at each level to manage the withdrawal symptoms for example administering benzodiazepines. The maximum score on the CIWA scale is 67; while any score less than 15 is termed a mild alcohol withdrawal, moderate with scores of 16 to 20, and severe with any score greater than 20. The ten items evaluated on the scale are common symptoms and signs of alcohol withdrawal, and are as follows:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremor
  • Paroxysmal sweats
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Tactile disturbances
  • Auditory disturbances
  • Visual disturbances
  • Headache
  • Orientation and clouded sensorium

Finally, Here at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center we are committed to availing help to addicts by availing some of the most integrative approaches to healing an addict. We advocate for natural healing to all kinds of addiction. Call on Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for help.

Withdrawal Syndrome, Withdrawal Seizures and the CIWA Scale