The Coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on all aspects of our society but for those whose problems are psychological and invisible, this might prove to be a tipping point.
Right now we are concerned that many people who already had some level of a drinking problem will find their use increasing in these horrible circumstances and with this, increase their risks of fitting in withdrawal. This is why we are now making an online withdrawal evaluation tool available to anyone in a simple and accessible format. It is also why we are doing everything we can to keep our clinics open to continue to be able to help people.
Alcohol withdrawals are medically the most dangerous detoxes that hospitals and clinics manage. Suddenly stopping drinking can cause people to have seizures with life-threatening consequences. People can start to go into withdrawals within a matter of hours after stopping drinking and hit their peak risk for having a fit is within a couple of days. This is why it is advisable to gradually reduce drinking rather than suddenly stop it. If you see someone going into withdrawal then the quickest way to ease the danger and the pain is for them to drink again and then consider reducing more slowly ( although obviously we still advice you seek medical advice and support ).
Treatment staff are medically trained to monitor alcohol withdrawal symptoms every few hours. This way they can judge when someone is going into withdrawals and lessen the risk of fitting by administering medication. The most commonly used scale for measuring withdrawals and the risk of fitting is the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol ( CIWA ) which evaluates many of the common indicators of withdrawal. There are 10 questions and the maximum score is 76. In general, if someone has a score close to 10, a clinic will use medications to reduce the withdrawals. Scores between 10 and 16 are considered moderate and are a cause for concern and a score greater than 16 is considered severe.
People who drink regularly are advised to gradually reduce their alcohol intake over a few weeks rather than stop suddenly but it’s obvious that people in a crisis with their drinking may just suddenly stop. As a friend family or a loved one, it will be very worrying to watch someone risking going into withdrawal and so we feel it is important to share a quick clinical withdrawal evaluation tool on our website in an easy to use format.
The test works well on a smartphone web browser so it’s easy to use. At the end of the test you will see the score, all the answers you gave and to make it easy for you to re-reference the scores, we will let you have a link at the end of the test to be able to recall the score at a later date but please bear in mind that we will be clearing out data older than approximately 30 days in line with our GDPR commitment not to keep unnecessary data so please save your recordings if you want to store your results beyond a short time.
You are invited to enter a name or a reference at the beginning of the test but this isn’t necessary and we don’t record any data such as IP addresses so your scores shall remain anonymous.
Just to remind you again, if someone you know stops drinking suddenly and starts to exhibit these withdrawal symptoms, it is safer for them to return to drinking until the symptoms stop and then try and reduce their consumption more slowly than it is for them to go on into more severe withdrawal. It is also important to seek direct medical advice before detoxing.
To make it easy to access the form from a mobile phone we have created a short link for you: