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Helping Patients Overcome Alcohol Independence: July 17, 2019

Whether it’s at home or in a bar, for some, drinking has become a normal part of their daily routine. “Some patients underestimate how much they actually do drink. Their one glass of wine can be a whole bottle of wine,” said Amy Rockafellow, a nurse manager with Lee Health.

Excessive drinking can cause an unexpected problem when patients are admitted to the hospital. “If you’re drinking a bottle of wine every day and then all of a sudden you come into the hospital, and you don’t have your bottle of wine or even your two beers a night, you go through withdrawal, even if you’re not considered an alcoholic,” said Rockafellow.

When patients are admitted, they’re asked a series of questions about their drinking habits. “On their admission process it always asks if they feel like they should cut down on their drinking, if they feel like they drink too much if they’ve ever had the first drink as an opener in the morning, just to see if they meet the classic red flag symptoms,” she said.

But even if patients don’t think their drinking is a problem--Health experts are trained to look for symptoms like confusion, elevated heart rate and temperature, agitation, and restlessness. All can be symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. “The first 48 hours are really, really crucial in getting them the proper help,” Rockafellow said.

Early recognition and intervention are important to getting the patients the treatment they need to continue their recovery in the hospital.


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