A new study out of Canada, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association has called for new training for emergency and family doctors to better help those with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The study urges the use of a questionnaire called the Prediction of Alcohol Withdrawal Severity Scale. In their research 530 studies involving 71, 000 patients were looked at, with St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver being the only hospital in Canada to use the questionnaire. Dr. Evan Wood is the lead author of the study as well as the executive director of the BC Centre on Substance Use. He believes the use of the questionnaire at St Paul’s has led to improved patient care and noticeable savings to the health care system.
How the Questionnaire Works
There are ten questions that include whether the patient has previously experienced alcohol withdrawal, if they’ve ever had a seizure or blackout, and if they have consumed alcohol in conjunction with another substance in the last 90 days. In combination with a blood test, these questions can help doctors give their patients more effective treatment. There are a few different prescription medications that can help patients reduce cravings and binge drinking and the BC Centre on Substance Use is planning to release guidelines later this year to assist doctors with the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also one of the treatments the Centre is advocating for.
Why Effectively Managing Those Going Through Alcohol Withdrawal is Important
People who consume a significant amount of alcohol can experience seizures, hallucinations, and become violently ill. Many of those trying to detox at home end up in emergency rooms due to the severity of their withdrawal symptoms. The Canadian Centre for Substance Use Research and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction have conducted research that concludes that alcohol use costs Canadian taxpayers an annual $14.6 billion in health care, lost time at work, and the criminal justice system. The goal of the study is to train both family doctors who are doing ongoing care, and emergency room doctors who are seeing patients in distress to alleviate patient’s symptoms while setting them up for better long-term care that results in fewer hospitalizations. If you or a loved one is trying to detox from alcohol contact our specialist for help.