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Eur Addict Res. 2003 Jan;9(1):1-7.

Symptom-triggered versus standard chlormethiazole treatment of inpatient alcohol withdrawal: clinical implications from a chart analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.


To evaluate clinical effectiveness and safety of 2 different detoxification treatment protocols, a chart analysis of hospital inpatients consecutively admitted for alcohol withdrawal during one year was undertaken. Records of 33 patients receiving symptom-triggered treatment (using a modified version of the revised Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol Scale) were compared with those of patients treated by applying a fixed-dose regimen (n = 32). Patients (45.3 +/- 9.8 years, 21% female) of both groups were comparable regarding illness severity, epidemiologic parameters as well as complications during the observed treatment period. Under symptom-triggered therapy, chlormethiazole (CMZ) treatment duration (4.2 +/- 3.5 vs. 7.5 +/- 3.3 days, Mann-Whitney U test: p = 0.0003) and cumulative CMZ dosage (4352 +/- 4589 vs. 9921 +/- 6599 mg, Mann-Whitney U test: p = 0.0004) were significantly reduced. The daily CMZ dose was significantly lower at days 1-5 in the group receiving symptom-triggered treatment. There was no influence of age on the outcome parameters of either treatment group. In conclusion, an individualized symptom-triggered treatment of alcohol withdrawal with CMZ seems to be equally safe but more efficient than a scheduled regimen.

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