People who consume large amounts of alcohol daily get dependent on it. If they stop consuming it, they suffer from withdrawal symptoms like tremors, palpitations, sleep disturbances, hallucinations and even seizures. Alcohol detoxification should be done under close observation especially in severe cases.
- The patient should be adequately hydrated and electrolyte levels should be monitored.
- He should be given high doses of vitamin B1, which is often less in alcoholic patients.
- A sedative like oxazepam may also be given.
- Antiseizure drugs like carbamazepine may be effective especially to prevent seizures.
- Counseling is needed to prevent a relapse.
- A drug called disulfiram (Antabuse) is used to prevent relapses. The patient has to take the drug daily. If he starts taking alcohol while on the medication, he suffers from unpleasant symptoms like flushing. This deters him from drinking alcohol. However, the patient has to be highly motivated to take the drug daily, which may not always be the case in alcoholic patients.
- Another drug, naltrexone is also being used along with behavioral therapy. It blocks the reinforcing effects of alcohol that urge the patient to drink repeatedly.
- Acamprosate is a recently approved drug for chronic alcoholism. It is used either alone or in combination with naltrexone.
- Goodman and Gilman. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics 11th edition.