4 years ago

Delirium tremens and alcohol withdrawal nationally in the Veterans Health Administration

Brian Scott Fuehrlein, David Thomas Moore, Robert Alan Rosenheck
Background and Objectives Alcohol withdrawal—especially delirium tremens (DT)—is a potentially life-threatening condition. While short-term treatment regimens and factors that predispose to more severe symptomatology have been extensively studied, little attention has been paid to the clinical epidemiology and long-term care of the chronic medical, addictive, psychiatric, and psychosocial problems faced by these patients. Methods National Veterans Health Administration data from fiscal year 2012 were examined to identify veterans diagnosed with DT; with withdrawal but not DT (WNDT); and with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) but neither DT nor WNDT. They were compared on sociodemographic characteristics, psychiatric and medical co-morbidities, and health service and psychotropic medication use, first with bivariate analyses and then multiple logistic regression. Results Among the 345,297 veterans diagnosed with AUD, 2,341 (0.7%) were diagnosed with DT and 6,738 (2.0%) with WNDT. Veterans diagnosed with either WNDT or DT were more likely to have been homeless, had more comorbid medical and psychiatric disorders, were more likely to be diagnosed with drug use disorders, utilized more health services, received more psychotropic medications, and were more likely to receive naltrexone. They were more likely to receive specialized legal, housing, vocational, and psychosocial rehabilitation services, as well as intensive case management. Conclusions Adults with WNDT and DT suffer from multiple chronic conditions and long-term service models are needed to coordinate the work of multiple specialists and to assure continuity of care. Scientific Significance This national study identifies sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and service utilization patterns associated with WNDT and DT.(Am J Addict 2017;26:722–730)

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/ajad.12603

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