Alcohol withdrawal rates have skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new study suggests.
Researchers found a 34 percent increase in hospitalized patients experiencing symptoms such as headaches, nausea, tremors, and seizures due to not using. alcohol after a period of heavy alcohol use.
Also, rates from March to September in 2020 were consistently higher compared to 2019.
The team at ChristianaCare, one of the largest healthcare systems in the Mid-Atlantic region, believes their study is the first to quantify the alcohol withdrawal rate among hospitalized people.
They say the findings are a ‘wake-up call’ for other hospital systems to increase their alcohol withdrawal assessment so it can be treated.
A new study found that, during the course of the pandemic, from March 25 to September 22, alcohol withdrawal rates increased by 34% compared to the same period in 2019 (top)
“We designed the study to capture the big picture,” said lead author Ram Sharma, a psychiatry resident at ChristianaCare.
‘We expected to see higher rates of alcohol withdrawal during the pandemic, and the data showed that we were right. Increased vigilance to identify alcohol withdrawal with the systematic detection of hospitalized patients will be essential, since the peaks of the pandemic will force future requests to stay at home ”.
Alcohol withdrawal is the name for the changes that occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for a long time suddenly stops or significantly reduces alcohol consumption.
Among long-term heavy drinkers, their brain chemistry adjusts because they are constantly exposed to the sedative or depressant effect of alcohol.
The brain produces more stimulating chemicals, such as serotonin or norepinephrine, to offset the effects of alcohol.
Therefore, when alcohol is suddenly withdrawn, the brain becomes overstimulated.
Some of the milder symptoms that can be experienced include headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
However, some patients experience more serious symptoms such as tremors, hallucinations, seizures, and delirum tremens, which is when there is a dangerous change in a person’s breathing.
For the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the team analyzed data from all inpatients at two of ChristianaCare’s hospitals in Delaware, Christiana Hospital and Wilmington Hospital, between January 1, 2018 and September 22, 2020. .
The researchers used a revised Clinical Institute Alcohol Withdrawal Assessment tool to identify patients hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal.
During the last two weeks of May, inpatient alcohol withdrawal rates were 84% compared to the same two weeks in 2019 (file image)
Patients were screened for three time periods in 2020: before the stay-at-home order (January 1 to March 24); during the stay-at-home order (March 25 to May 31) and after the stay-at-home order (June 1 to September 22).
They found 340 patients diagnosed with alcohol withdrawal before the stay-home order, 231 during the stay-home order, and 507 after the stay-home order.
Next, the team compared alcohol withdrawal rates in 2020 with corresponding periods in 2018 and 2019.
The results showed that during the pandemic, from March 25 to September 22, Alcohol withdrawal in hospitalized patients increased by 34 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
The highest incidence occurred during the last two weeks of the stay-at-home order, with an 84 percent higher rate of alcohol withdrawal patients compared to the same two weeks in 2019.
Hospitalized patients can benefit from early intervention and treatment that includes plenty of fluids; medications to control heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing; and medicines called benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, nausea and vomiting,
“ Our findings are nationally relevant and serve as a wake-up call to alert other hospital systems to the increased need to detect and treat alcohol abstinence, and to refer patients for continued alcohol treatment. ” ‘said lead author Dr. Terry Horton, chief of ChristianaCare Addiction Medicine.
“Our study uses ChristianaCare’s ongoing monitoring for alcohol withdrawal, which can occur when patients admitted to the hospital do not have access to all sources of alcohol.”