Alcohol Withdrawl

Nurses General Nursing

Published

Just curious to see what type of protocol others are using for their patients that go into acute alcohol withdrawl/ DTs after being admitted to the hospital for another problem.

We do have a withdrawl protocol but many of us feel that it does not work as well as it could. Typically we use IV ativan, PO libirum and add mutlivits, etc to the patient's daily IV fluids- or PO if they are taking it. We are going to talk to our behaviorial health unit and see what protocols they use as well...just getting a feel for the current things others are doing...

Is anyone giving their patients actual alcohol (I ask this because when we get patients going through withdrawl- I am pretty sure that they are not withdrawling by choice...mostly they end up in my unit as an emergent kind of thing and haven't dealt with everything else that goes along with quitting...and we aren't going to make them stop)

Thanks in advance!!

Mystery5

475 Posts

We have a high, med, and low dose protocol. It uses ativan and haldol. It's nice 'cause it's easy to tweak the numbers if you really feel they need ativan, but they aren't quite making the grade.:rolleyes:

One of our ortho Docs prescribes booze for pts who are heavy drinkers to keep them from ending up in the ICU with DT's after a knee replacement.

11:11

208 Posts

Specializes in SICU-MICU,Radiology,ER.

Ive medicaly detoxed pts in ICU, on the floor, and in a nonmedical detox.

I believe that detoxing from ETOH is probably the hardest of all substances and can kill. After a couple of days rest the meth and heroin addicts would get up and walk away.

In the unit Im in now we use diazepam. In a tele unit I worked in they used ativan.

In the nonmedical detox they just shaked and baked. Usually start to seize at around 48 hours. We would encourage candy to keep their blood sugar up. Not sure if that is wise or not.

Either way a detox is going to be hard. But it doesnt stop them from going back for more, even after failed liver and kidney txps.

I personally dont recommend using ETOH but then again I am not a prescriber-

11

Had a medical doctor use Buprenex for detox. Did not work as well as po Librium. He used it for a long while but finally went back to ativan, librium, and vitamins.

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

Mainly, we use an IV banana bag, Ativan or Valium, and Librium. We also do frequent neuro checks to determine how badly they're having DT's and how effective their medication is.

I found that using a flow sheet similar to this helps me to describe s/s to the doc if my assessment determines that we need increased medications or even a transfer to a higher level of care.

http://www.ciap.health.nsw.gov.au/hospolic/nursdap/maindoc3.html#LOCE10E8

Specializes in ICU, CCU, Trauma, neuro, Geriatrics.

The ICU I worked in the past used Propofol drip. We used that for 3 to 5 days and titrated to effect, ie still breathing and not fighting demons. We never lost a patient to cardiac problems due to increased oxygen needs during withdrawal. Very short half-life anesthetic agent, we called it 'milk of amnesia', used properly it can do the job.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

we've used valium, haldol and the b vitamins.

jaycrue

28 Posts

Valium 20 mg as per withdrawal scale I've seen it given a max of 200 mg in 24 hrs.

Ativan 2 mg as per withdrawal scale for clients with liver problems.

and lastly we also give Thiamine injections one time or tablets 100mg for three days

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

Thanks for all of the replies..it sounds like we do pretty much what everyone else does...haldol/ativan/librium/vitamins

I think that we are also going to be trying valium...

I work in CCU and it sure is a shame when your second day post cardiac surgery patient starts with the DTs...

If anyone else has ideas, I would love to hear them...

Thanks!

elkpark

14,633 Posts

You are using some form of the CIWA scale with sliding scale benzos, right?

I did psych consultation-liaison at a big teaching hospital a few years ago, and our team managed withdrawal throughout the house under the supervision of our certified addictionologist. For ETOH, we used B vitamin replacement (extremely important for preventing permanent neuro damage), with scheduled doses of Ativan plus sliding scale Ativan based on CIWA results q 2 hours for the first couple days (round the clock! -- it's really a problem to have the noc nurses skip the assessment all night because the patient's asleep, then have the patient wake up in the AM in DTs! ...), then q 4 hours for a couple days We did not use Haldol (creates more problems than it solves), and lots of detox/addictions people avoid using Valium because of its v. long half-life. We rarely had people get into serious trouble on this regimen. Ativan can be given q 1 hour if q 2 isn't frequent enough to keep them maintained.

One of the big issues is assessment -- identifying early anyone who might be at risk of going into withdrawal, and starting them on the protocol prophylactically before they do so.

I have occasionally seen orders for someone to have alcohol to drink daily while in the hospital, because they didn't want to be detoxed and would be at risk of withdrawal if they were cut off abruptly. It's up to the attending to make that call. If they are not already in withdrawal when they arrive (i.e., it's not an emergency situation), they have the same right to refuse detox that they do to refuse any other treatment.

ETOH withdrawal, unlike opiates or most other recreational drugs, is considered a life-threatening emergency, and can easily be fatal.

cedat

3 Posts

Hi, I'm currently a pre-nursing student (will begin my nursing program in May) and I'm wondering why alcohol withdraw can be fatal vs. other drugs. I've been following this thread and find this very interesting.

Thanks!!

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.
You are using some form of the CIWA scale with sliding scale benzos, right?

I did psych consultation-liaison at a big teaching hospital a few years ago, and our team managed withdrawal throughout the house under the supervision of our certified addictionologist. For ETOH, we used B vitamin replacement (extremely important for preventing permanent neuro damage), with scheduled doses of Ativan plus sliding scale Ativan based on CIWA results q 2 hours for the first couple days (round the clock! -- it's really a problem to have the noc nurses skip the assessment all night because the patient's asleep, then have the patient wake up in the AM in DTs! ...), then q 4 hours for a couple days We did not use Haldol (creates more problems than it solves), and lots of detox/addictions people avoid using Valium because of its v. long half-life. We rarely had people get into serious trouble on this regimen. Ativan can be given q 1 hour if q 2 isn't frequent enough to keep them maintained.

One of the big issues is assessment -- identifying early anyone who might be at risk of going into withdrawal, and starting them on the protocol prophylactically before they do so.

I have occasionally seen orders for someone to have alcohol to drink daily while in the hospital, because they didn't want to be detoxed and would be at risk of withdrawal if they were cut off abruptly. It's up to the attending to make that call. If they are not already in withdrawal when they arrive (i.e., it's not an emergency situation), they have the same right to refuse detox that they do to refuse any other treatment.

ETOH withdrawal, unlike opiates or most other recreational drugs, is considered a life-threatening emergency, and can easily be fatal.

Thanks for your response...While I don't know exactly what the CIWA scale stands for...we use a protocol similar to what you have mentioned...with the B Vits/ lots of ativan as needed/ and the librium...Thankfully we only get the serious cases few and far between but when we do get them, it is somewhat unfamiliar territory (especially after their cardiac surgery)...If we know the person drinks we do start them on the protocol before they have problems...however we recently did have one that turned out with not so good results, many of the rns feel that since the patients stay was emergent, that we should have also tried addiding in some alcohol to drink while hosptialized since he wasn't ready to quit (and still had lots to learn about his very new cardiac issues)....It was just a bad combo all together but we all realize that we need to bone up on the current care for this type of patient....

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