This paper reviews the literature on the use of rating scales within the treatment of the alcohol-withdrawal syndrome. A computer-assisted literature search identified trials of therapy for and rating scales used in alcohol-withdrawal states. Eighteen rating scales were identified. There is a wide variation in symptom items included in these scales. Scales also vary in their length and ease of application. We conclude that it is important to use validated and reliable assessment scales in research if proper comparisons of treatments for the alcohol-withdrawal syndrome are to be made.