Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria

Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alcohol Withdrawal Microchapters


Patient Information


Historical Perspective




Differentiating Alcohol withdrawal from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


Diagnostic Criteria

Alcohol Withdrawal Calculator

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings


Other Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies


Medical Therapy


Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Cost-Effectiveness of Therapy

Future or Investigational Therapies

Case Studies

Case #1

Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria On the Web

Most recent articles

Most cited articles

Review articles

CME Programs

Powerpoint slides


American Roentgen Ray Society Images of Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria

All Images
Echo & Ultrasound
CT Images

Ongoing Trials at Clinical

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse

NICE Guidance

FDA on Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria

CDC on Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria

Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria in the news

Blogs on Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria

Directions to Hospitals Treating Alcohol withdrawal

Risk calculators and risk factors for Alcohol withdrawal diagnostic criteria

For patient information click here.

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]; Kiran Singh, M.D. [3]


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria is used to diagnose alcohol withdrawal and the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (CIWA-A) scale is used to assess the severity of alcohol withdrawal.


Diagnostic Criteria

DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Withdrawal[1]

  • A. Cessation of (or reduction in) alcohol use that has been heavy and prolonged.


  • B. Two (or more) of the following, developing within several hours to a few days after the cessation of (or reduction in) alcohol use described in Criterion A:


  • C. The signs or symptoms in Criterion B cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.


  • D. The signs or symptoms are not attributable to another medical condition and are not better explained by another mental disorder, including intoxication or withdrawal from

another substance.

Specify if:

  • With perceptual disturbances: This specifier applies in the rare instance when hallucinations(usually visual or tactile) occur with intact reality testing, or auditory, visual,

Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol revised (CIWA-Ar)

The CIWA (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment)[2] is a common measure used in North American hospitals to assess and treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome and for alcohol detoxification. This clinical tool assesses 10 common withdrawal signs.[3] A score of more than 15 points is associated with increased risk of alcohol withdrawal effects such as confusion or seizures.

Alcohol withdrawal

Other Assessment Scales

Alcohol Assessment Scale
Alcohol Withdrawal Scale

Level of Evidence

Assessment Scale Level of Evidence
The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol Revised (CIWA-Ar) I
Alcohol Assessment Scale (AWS) IV


  1. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association. 2013. ISBN 0890425558.
  2. Puz CA, Stokes SJ (2005). "Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: assessment and treatment with the use of the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol-revised". Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 17 (3): 297–304. doi:10.1016/j.ccell.2005.04.001. PMID 16115538. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. McKay A, Koranda A, Axen D (2004). "Using a symptom-triggered approach to manage patients in acute alcohol withdrawal". Medsurg Nurs. 13 (1): 15–20, 31, quiz 21. PMID 15029927. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)