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CNWL comments on dangers of unchecked alcohol withdrawal following death of Hollywood star

13 July 2017

News that True Blood star Nelsan Ellis has died from alcohol withdrawal complications has highlighted the complex nature of alcohol withdrawal, says Dr Jeffrey Fehler, CNWL Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist based in Hillingdon.

Dr Fehler said: "Alcohol withdrawals can be debilitating and at times physically dangerous. If alcohol withdrawals progress unchecked, complications can include fits or at worst, a potentially fatal confusional state (known as delirium tremens or DTs).

"We therefore never advise patients who are addicted to alcohol to suddenly stop drinking. In such circumstances, alcohol intake should be gradually reduced and ideally those consuming highly concentrated alcoholic drinks (eg. vodka) should try switch to something with a lower alcohol volume (eg. regular strength lager).

"In most cases, a period of detoxification will be required when stopping alcohol completely, in order to ensure that withdrawals are well managed. It is this treatment that services like ARCH (Addiction Recovery Community Hillingdon) provide."