[Alcohol withdrawal and its major complications]

Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2017 Mar;85(3):163-177. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-103052. Epub 2017 Mar 20.
[Article in German]


Delirium tremens is one of the most common complications of alcohol withdrawal. It is potentially lethal and therefore should be detected as early as possible and be monitored and treated intensively. The assessment of risk factors with the Luebeck Alcohol-Withdrawal Risk Scale short form (LARS-11) can help to predict the risk of severe withdrawal adequately. As delirium cannot be differentiated from Wernicke-Encephalopathy with sufficient certainty high parenteral doses of Vitamin B1 and Magnesium orally should be given in case of any severe withdrawal symptoms. According to guidelines delirium tremens should be treated with benzodiazepines besides adequate electrolyte and fluid substitution. Haloperidol is often additionally given to better control hallucinations. Delirium tremens usually subsides within 10 days of treatment.The article gives an overview of alcohol withdrawal with its different facets, its differential diagnoses, and the treatment options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / complications*
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / diagnosis
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / psychology
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Korsakoff Syndrome / complications
  • Korsakoff Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Korsakoff Syndrome / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome