Managing Alcohol Withdrawal During The COVID-19 Pandemic

A doctor in a white coat holds an iPad which reads "ASAM Alcohol Withdrawal Management"

For people with severe alcohol use disorders, withdrawal can be deadly. That’s why liquor store closures, quarantines, and treatment limits during the coronavirus outbreak are ringing alarm bells for addiction experts.

As businesses shut down and healthcare systems are strained, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has released its clinical guidelines for alcohol withdrawal management ahead of schedule, aiming to educate providers and help raise awareness of patients who are at risk right now.

About 15 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder. Without a treatment plan and without access to alcohol, many of these patients are at risk of going into withdrawal. Mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include things like headaches, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and tremors. More severe symptoms can include hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens, which can be fatal.

Some states, like New York, have designated liquor stores “essential businesses,” which means they’re allowed to stay open during the pandemic. But other states, like Pennsylvania, are ordering liquor stores to close. And across the country, there’s word of programs not accepting new withdrawal management patients.

Is your state closing liquor stores, or are you otherwise having problems accessing addiction treatment during the pandemic? Please reach out and let us know. Shatterproof is doing everything we can to educate state leaders on expert recommendations, and to ensure systems are prepared to provide lifesaving addiction care throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.