Managing alcohol withdrawal in acute in-patient psychiatry


Alcohol withdrawal is a process that should be managed carefully and gradually. But this can be challenging in psychiatric in-patient units where patients may already have severe withdrawal symptoms when they arrive, or may later present with withdrawal symptoms having been admitted for a separate condition. In this podcast, Dr Chris Daly talks to Dr Howard Ryland about the most effective assessment, treatment and ongoing management procedures to put in place in order to help patients withdraw from alcohol safely.


Date published: 7 July 2020

Presenter: Dr Howard Ryland

Interviewee: Dr Chris Daly

Audio running time: 33 minutes

Credits: 0.5


Learning outcomes


By the end of this podcast, we hope you will have gained an understanding of:


  • the principles of assessing and managing alcohol withdrawal safely in an acute inpatient psychiatric setting


  • recognising and treating the complications of alcohol withdrawal, including delirium tremens, seizures and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome


  • the phenomenon of kindling and its impact on managing alcohol withdrawal


  • strategies for maintaining abstinence from alcohol.



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Further guidance

You may also wish to read the following guidance to supplement your learning:

Daly C (2020) Managing Alcohol Withdrawals in Acute Inpatient Psychiatry. [PDF]

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (2019) Guideline for the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence on Acute Psychiatric Wards within GMMH. [PDF]

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Alcohol self-management during COVID-19 and beyond with Dr Peter Rice


Crystalline methamphetamine: risks, harms and interventions with Professor Michael Farrell


Module Alcohol and the brain by Dr Anne Lingford-Hughes et al

© 2021 Royal College of Psychiatrists