COVID-19: Telecounselling helps people with alcohol withdrawal syndrome


In the preliminary days of the lockdown, Dr G Prasad Rao, director, Asha Hospital in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, was woken up at midnight for an emergency. The caller, a affected person of Dr Rao, was hallucinating. “She instructed me, ‘I am throwing up and my office colleagues are chasing me. I called the police but they asked me to seek a doctor’s assist.’” The woman, who suffered from alcohol abuse, needed to be rushed to the emergency ward of the hospital, and had been going by means of what medical doctors name alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

The push

With alcohol not being accessible within the coronavirus lockdown, signs differ from gentle to extreme, relying on the individual’s alcohol dependence.

“Those consuming more than a quarter of alcohol six days in a week, when suddenly stopped, can go into a clinical syndrome called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Depending on the severity, they might have seizures or go into delirium, thus needing hospitalisation and acute care. They may have chronic alcohol dependency syndrome with nutritional problems,” says Dr Rao.

However, he says that even a social drinker consuming alcohol on three days or much less in every week, may endure from withdrawal signs. The signs present up inside three weeks. The most extreme ones present signs in 2 to 96 hours, and others any time between one and 4 weeks.

Dialling in

Every day, Dr Rao, who has been doing video calls over the past seven and a half years, will get round 45 people dialling in — up from 10 am. Callers have totally different psychological well being points; 15-20 % of those are associated to alcohol dependence and habit. Often, the dependence is linked to nervousness and panic issues, despair, bi-polar and persona issues, even schizophrenia. “Among these, more than 5% need immediate attention.”

A group of psychologists and medical doctors at Hope Trust — a Hyderabad-based de-addiction centre and rehabilitation clinic — are busy conducting remedy periods on Skype and Zoom for people with out medical problems, reminiscent of stress administration, addictions, nervousness, parental and relationship points.

The centre’s current on-line providers surged by 15 calls (for various psychological well being points) every single day. “This lockdown period is stressful for the family,” says Rahul Luther of Hope Trust. “We do get calls for admission but we are avoiding new admissions and instead, are referring them to psychiatric clinics,” he provides. Sometimes even the members of the family name to share their anxieties.

“When it has to be medically managed, the blood pressure needs to be constantly monitored and maybe medication also given,” he says, so it’s essential to take it critically.

Dr Ankineedu Prasad, a telecounselling physician at Hope Trust has been within the de-addiction subject since 2004. “It has been 15 years since I have been sober and hence understand the mental state of the callers,” he says.

A telecounselling name (two weekly periods for a minimum of three weeks) lasts for 40 minutes, and medical doctors empathetically give an perception into alcoholism to the callers and clarify what they’re feeling is regular and pure. “We tell them their anger, frequent arguments, irritability, and stress are common issues arising due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome. We help manage their lifestyle, diet and sleep patterns and also to cope with anger, stress, and negative emotions so that their inter personal communication improves. ”

Poor community connectivity, no clear suggestions from callers, a number of prolonged periods attributable to a scarcity of time and non-co-operation from members of the family are a couple of limitations of telecounselling. The members of the family are additionally counselled on stress administration, managing house environments in the course of the lockdown interval, and enhancing communication abilities with the individual.

One primary profit is to have the ability to proceed the remedy periods with out skipping them. In the lockdown interval, this can be a aid, for members of the family and the individual.

Factoring in

Rahul says that figuring out habit is tough over a video or audio name although — each the individual and household can go into denial. “We also have reports of domestic violence increasing during lockdown. When a person addicted to alcohol does not get his substance, there will be huge irritability and a part of withdrawal can create aggressive behaviour, but it is actually the addict’s cry for help,” he says, having been by means of this himself. He means that companions and well-wishers gently counsel on-line remedy to deal with signs like insomnia, relatively than accusing the individual of a dependency.

The frequent bodily signs of withdrawal embody headache, gastric points, non-cardiac chest ache, sleeplessness, restlessness, irritability, physique aches and decrease again ache.

Will the withdrawal signs final? “It depends on the severity. Mild withdrawal symptoms do not last long but after withdrawal of lockdown, if the substance is available, 99% will go back to it. Management of withdrawal symptoms is only the first step towards treatment,” replies Rahul.

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