The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued an advisory to immediately admit and give treatment to people with "severe" alcohol withdrawal symptoms during the COVID-19 lockdown. In the advisory, the ministry said as liquor shops are shut during the lockdown, it "may be a blessing in disguise for those who may utilise this opportunity to quit drinking altogether".
The advisory was prepared in association with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDC) at All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
However, it is also a significant challenge for some people with alcohol dependence who are at risk of experiencing "severe alcohol withdrawal" and its consequences, it said.
In the 'severe' category, the affected people might get seizures (convulsions), delirium tremens, comprised of confusion, disturbed level of consciousness, impaired awareness of surroundings, hallucinations and abnormal behaviour, and wernicke-korsakoff syndrome - a variety of neurological and cognitive symptoms, especially common in malnourished patients. Such "severe" patients require emergency medical care and hospitalisation, the advisory stated.
The symptoms for 'mild or moderate' affected are classified into 'psychological' and 'psychological and physical' categories.
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The 'psychological' category patients will have anxiety, irritability, restlessness, craving, and an irresistible urge to consume liquor. Majority of them will get better within a few days with adequate fluids and nutritional supplementation, it said.
Those with psychological and physical symptoms may have difficulty in sleeping, tremors, increased sweating, palpitations, headache, stomach upset and poor appetite.
Such patients should visit the nearest clinic for prescription of appropriate medicines of benzodiazepine group (such as diazepam or lorazepam) and high doses of vitamin B (particularly thiamine, vitamin B1), the advisory said.
People can contact toll-free helpline number 1800110031 for more details and assistance, the ministry said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.