Objectifies alcohol withdrawal severity to help guide therapy.
- Benzodiazepines are generally used to control psychomotor agitation and prevent progression to more severe withdrawal.
- Diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and chlordiazepoxide (Librium) are the most frequently used benzodiazepines. Follow your hospital's own alcohol withdrawal protocol; frequently treatment begins with benzodiazepines when CIWA-Ar scores reach 8-10, with standing or as needed dosing for scores 10-20. Some protocols even include transfer to the ICU for scores >20.
- Consider additional supportive care, including intravenous fluids, nutritional supplementation, and frequent clinical reassessment including vital signs.
Assessment protocols utilizing CIWA-Ar vary and include medication dosing triggered by symptoms only and combined symptom-triggered + fixed-dose medication dosing.
Other conditions can mimic or coexist with alcohol withdrawal, including:
- Drug overdose
- Trauma (eg, intracranial hemorrhage)
- Infection (eg, meningitis)
- Metabolic derangements
- Hepatic failure
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Consider additional testing to rule out alternative diagnoses, especially if presentation includes altered mental status and/or fever.