Lockdown effect: Emergency wards across country see surge in severe alcohol withdrawal symptom cases

By Priyanka Sharma | Updated: Apr 01, 2020 00:41 IST

New Delhi [India], April 1 (ANI): Amid a lockdown in the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus, health facilities across the country are seeing a surge in patients with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms--reveals a report published by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Doctors at AIIMS have appealed for massive awareness about the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal patients and the need for treatment for such patients during the lockdown.
Author of the report, Dr Atul Ambekar, Professor of Psychiatry at National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of AIIMS told ANI: "Doctors from Indian Psychiatry Society also had a similar view that they are witnessing a large number of patients with alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the emergency unit of their respective hospitals. Our AIIMS emergency is also reporting patients with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. We just urge the government that health facilities should be prepared to deal with patients with alcohol withdrawal in the coming days once the lockdown gets over."
According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Report (2019), there are about 16 crore persons who consume alcohol in the country. The use of alcohol is considerably higher among men (27.3 per cent) as compared to women (1.6 per cent), says the report.
While most of the people who consume alcohol would be able to cope with the situation, those who are suffering from "physical dependence" are at the risk of experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Physical dependence signifies that alcohol becomes the need of the person's body and he cannot live without it.
Dr Srinivas Rajkumar T of Department of Psychiatric at AIIMS said that the symptoms may include difficulty in sleeping, tremors, increased sweating, palpitations, headache, stomach being upset, poor appetite, anxiety, irritability, restlessness and severe craving i.e. an irresistible urge to consume alcohol.
He said it is very important that mental health and de-addiction services are available to these sections of society so that they do not suffer due to lockdown.
"At NDDTC, we are witnessing patients in a large number than before," he said.
Dr Smita Desphande, Head of the Psychiatric Department at RML, said that all patients do not require hospitalisation.
In most cases, a patient requires a comfortable environment, adequate fluid, and nutritional supplementation and medication as per doctor's advice, she said.

A 21-day lockdown was announced in the country on Tuesday last to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (ANI)