Telangana

Alcohol withdrawal effects drive more people to Institute of Mental Health

Deprived of regular dose of alcohol, addicts have slipped from atonic symptoms such as restlessness, trembling, to severe effects such as seizures, delirium.

Deprived of regular dose of alcohol, addicts have slipped from atonic symptoms such as restlessness, trembling, to severe effects such as seizures, delirium.  

From maximum of 5 patients a day, the number increases to 90; psychiatrists debunk docs prescription of alcohol

The number of people suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal effects who visit Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Erragadda, increased from maximum of 5 patients a day to 90. Along with other commercial establishments, liquor shops too were shut for over a week as part of lockdown for containment of the spread of coronavirus.

Deprived of their regular dose of alcohol, addicts have slipped from atonic symptoms such as restlessness, trembling, to severe effects such as seizures, delirium. Though people have been holding on to wishful thinking that exemption might be made for chronic alcoholics if a doctor prescribes daily consumption of certain amount of alcohol, psychiatrists debunked the concept.

They said that the concept is obsolete and no doctor will prescribe alcohol to patients, be it two or three pegs, as body will demand more. Detoxification and de-addiction treatment was strongly suggested as path to recovery. Liquor shops were closed in the State from March 22. Usually, a maximum of five persons suffering from the withdrawal effects visit IMH. However, the number touched 16 on Saturday, 25 on Sunday and 90 on Monday.

IMH’s superintendent M Uma Shankar said that when a person addicted to alcohol withdraws from it, he initially suffers from effects such as body trembling, anxiousness, sleeplessness in night, perspiration, and cannot sit at one place.“After two to three days, they might develop severe effects such as seizures, delirium - acute confusion where people will be disoriented about time, place, people,” Dr Uma Shankar said.

Psychiatrists at IMH said that people who were hallucinating too consulted them in the past few days. When a person walks in with the problem, his blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration is checked. As chronic alcoholics do not eat on time, they suffer from hypoglycemia. Dehydration, weakness too is observed.

Fluids and detoxifying agents are given as part of treatment. People suffering from delirium, seizures are admitted. Dr Uma Shankar said that detoxification process lasts for eight to ten days. “Time for de-addiction treatment depends on whether patient cooperates, and if family supports,” he said.

Though people are pinning hopes on doctors’ prescription of alcohol dose, former president of Indian Psychiatric Society G Prasad Rao said that though a section of therapists believed that people addicted to alcohol should not be suddenly put off it, the concept is obsolete now.

“Some of them with co-morbid conditions like hypertension, diabetes, might suffer from health complications like increase in heart rate leading to fatality when they suddenly withdraw from alcohol. In current situation of lockdown, I suggest short de-addiction programme where they will be admitted if there is risk to life,” Dr Rao said, who is also director ( Psycho Pharmacological division), Asha Hospitals. Seven bedded ICU in the private hospital is filled with people suffering from the issue.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:17:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/alcohol-withdrawal-effects-drive-more-people-to-institute-of-mental-health/article31210775.ece

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