Tamil Nadu

With no liquor available during lockdown, government issues guidelines to treat persons with withdrawal symptoms

A file photograph of a Tasmac shop that is shut down. Photograph used for representational purposes only

A file photograph of a Tasmac shop that is shut down. Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The District Mental Health Programme has issued a set of guidelines for medical officers and district psychiatrists to assess and treat persons seeking help

With the closure of State-owned TASMAC liqour outlets in the State, persons addicted to alcohol stand the risk of developing withdrawal symptoms that need to be treated appropriately and immediately.

In view of this, the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) has issued a set of guidelines for medical officers and district psychiatrists to assess and treat persons seeking help.

Officials said that persons addicted to alcohol are at risk of developing withdrawal symptoms following reduction or stoppage of alcohol consumption. They may experience bouts of depression or anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion, mood swings, irrational thoughts, unexplainable physical pain, irritability and sleeplessness, and there was an urgent need to treat them.

“If left untreated, it could lead to a lot of complications. So, it should be treated properly, immediately and adequately, and this should be done by professionals. Some persons may go on forced abstinence. Some of them may develop complications such as delirium and psychotic symptoms, and some may not. The Institute of Mental Health is open round the clock with its counselling services, and tele-counselling is available at the district-level.,” an official said.

The DMHP has written to the Directorate of Medical Education and Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services to rope in medical officers working in primary health centres, district psychiatrists working in the district headquarters hospitals and under DMHP/faculty members in the departments of psychiatry in government medical colleges. They may be instructed to follow the guidelines furnished by the DMHP whenever any patient seeks their advice.

Those in need of help can seek advice through the State health helpline at 104, or through telemedicine or contact the medical officers/district psychiatrists/faculty members of departments of psychiatry.

The district-level health officials have been asked to publicise the contact details of these medical officers to enable the patients to contact them. Those who need treatment could be provided for their safe and consistent management of uncomplicated alcohol withdrawal.

The guidelines for clinical assessment of patients with alcohol withdrawal symptoms includes a set of questions such as : What is your drinking pattern and has it changed, have you ever experienced blackouts, what do you experience when you stop drinking, when was your last drink, have you ever had delirium tremens, seizure or hallucinations, have you ever undergone detoxification treatment before, and how many times, do you have medical problems such as liver disease, pancreatitis or intestinal bleeding.

The medical officers were also provided with Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol, a scale used to measure alcohol withdrawal symptoms to assess the patients, and provide medication as per the severity -- mild, moderate or severe alcohol dependence.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 5:55:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/with-no-liquor-available-during-lockdown-government-issues-guidelines-to-treat-persons-with-withdrawal-symptoms/article31192480.ece

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