Preparing Nursing and Social Work Students to Care for Patients in Acute Alcohol Withdrawal

J Addict Nurs. Jul/Sep 2017;28(3):143-147. doi: 10.1097/JAN.0000000000000178.


Alcohol and other drug abuse has become a national crisis with approximately 26% of general medical patients having alcohol-related problems. New nurses and social workers are often not prepared to care for patients with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms because they lack experience in actual crisis situations. The purpose of this study was to prepare nursing and social work students to care for a patient undergoing an acute alcohol withdrawal process. Nine groups of 8-10 students participated in a 2.5-hour simulation event that included an alcohol withdrawal seizure, team meeting, and discharge of the patient. Students recognized the importance of all the professional roles and how each professional benefits patient care. Before the simulation, students thought they were prepared to care for patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal; however, the crisis of an alcohol seizure decreased the student's ability to perform skills and communicate effectively. These findings suggest that new nurses and social workers may not be prepared to care for the acute alcohol withdrawal patient.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / methods
  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Work / education*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / nursing*