The alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a common management problem in hospital practice for neurologists, psychiatrists and general physicians alike. Although some patients have mild symptoms and may even be managed in the outpatient setting, others have more severe symptoms or a history of adverse outcomes that requires close inpatient supervision and benzodiazepine therapy. Many patients with AWS have multiple management issues (withdrawal symptoms, delirium tremens, the Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, seizures, depression, polysubstance abuse, electrolyte disturbances and liver disease), which requires a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach. Although AWS may be complex, careful evaluation and available treatments should ensure safe detoxification for most patients.
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Competing interests: None.