I was taken aback when I read that “one in five patients admitted to a hospital suffers from alcohol use disorder” in Managing alcohol withdrawal in hospitalized patients in the April issue of Nursing2012 (here’s the pdf for the best view). With numbers like this, it really is critical that we are aware and able to assess all patients for signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. I’d like to bring this article to your attention because there are some great resources included to help assess patients and also care for those experiencing alcohol withdrawal. There is a table on timing of symptoms – when they might occur in relation to the last drink – and also a copy of the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alchohol Scale, Revised (CIWA-Ar), which is the gold standard for assessing for withdrawal. The CIWA-Ar is not copyrighted – so go ahead and print it out, share it, and use it (in accordance with your facility policy, of course.)
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. While those of us in the hospital setting may come in contact with patients at risk for or experiencing alcohol withdrawal, we all know that a critical component of alcohol awareness is prevention. This year’s theme is “Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities: Prevent Underage Drinking." Won’t you read more about this and help spread the word?