Alcohol Use Disorders: Implications for the Clinical Toxicologist
Asia Pacific Journal of Medical Toxicology
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are a health problem of high prevalence in most communities and such problems account for 5% of the total burden of disease worldwide. Clinical toxicologists are commonly required to treat patients having AUDs and associated drug/alcohol-related harm. There have been recent changes to some of the diagnostic criteria (notably in DSM V) relevant to AUDs, with older terms "alcohol abuse" and "alcohol dependence" no longer being classified. AUDs may sometimes not be
... ometimes not be clearly recognizable and use of evidence-based screening interventions can help identify such conditions and lead to effective brief interventions (e.g. SBIRT programs in emergency departments). AUDs are viewed as chronic disorders of alcohol consumption occurring across a spectrum of severity. While most AUDs are mild to moderate in severity and usually self-limiting conditions, more severe presentations are more commonly encountered by physicians in emergency settings. Hence, clinical toxicologists are more likely to see patients within the more severe form of disorder, at end of the spectrum of AUDs. Among this group of patients, multi-morbidity and particularly high mortality risk exists, and thus they usually require management collaboration with specialist services. Patients with AUDs are most likely to be recognized by a clinical toxicologist in the following scenarios: following acute heavy alcohol ingestion and subsequently developing acute alcohol intoxication (ethanol toxidrome), following accidental or intentional drug overdosage where alcohol has also been consumed, following acute alcohol consumption that has been associated with behavioral risk-taking and/or self-harming (e.g. poisoning, envenomation, etc.), when alcohol withdrawal reactions are severe requiring hospitalization and possibly following an adverse drug reaction.