Send to

Choose Destination
Emerg Med Clin North Am. 1990 Aug;8(3):613-31.

Substance withdrawal.

Author information

New York City Poison Control Center, New York.


As long as drug use and abuse persist in our society, a significant number of patients with various types of drug withdrawal will present to Emergency Departments. It is imperative that we recognize the signs and symptoms of drug withdrawal and render the appropriate treatments. Although it may be easy to recognize "skid row" alcoholics, a drug abuser with track marks on his (or her) arms or with a perforated nasal septum, the executive alcoholic, the elderly patient on chronic diazepam therapy, or the "blue collar" worker using cocaine may be more common and more elusive. Because most drug abusers use and can be dependent on multiple drugs, detoxification may need to proceed with one drug or one class of drugs at a time. Although our discussion has concentrated on the acute presentation and treatment of these symptoms for the emergency physician, we recognize that the acute treatment of withdrawal symptoms is only a small but vital part of withdrawal treatment. These patients will require chronic treatment, including social and psychologic counseling. As emergency physicians, by performing our jobs of recognition, stabilization, and counseling, we will fulfill the first critical link in the treatment of these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center