How does an Alcohol Withdrawal Scale Work?

How does an Alcohol Withdrawal Scale Work?

In patients addicted to alcohol, only the standard benchmark tests can reveal their degree of addiction. To truly assess their situation and improvement in condition, there has to be a universal scale or measurement unit.

In that regard, AWS or alcohol withdrawal scale is a measurement system that allows for a transparent understanding of the content of alcohol in the body fluids. 

Values that Indicate Alcoholism & Alcohol Withdrawal Scale

When you are not in touch with the clinical terms, you have to rely on your own judgments. According to NIAAA or National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking should be labeled fit or moderate, and so on, depending on the number of drinks per day. This is not a regular estimate, but an observation based on a series of recorded events. When it is the content of ethanol, the primary constituent of alcohol in the body, increases beyond a safe limit, again set by NIAAA, a chemical imbalance can cause a variety of disorders.

Thus, the first thing someone notices is people recommending a safe number of drinks per week or per day. In clinical physiology, men and women are different, and their body mass, water content per volume, and so on makes a huge difference in these values as well. So, what are these normally recommended values? And, what values make the alcohol withdrawal scale?

  • As per NIAAA, men should restrict themselves to a maximum of 4 drinks per day, and 14 drinks per week. 
  • For women, this number decreases a lot and shrinks by almost 50%. Because of their low mass per volume and water content in the body, their safe limit shrinks to 3 drinks per day, and a maximum of 7 per week. 

The above is the limit for safe or moderate or low-risk drinking. In other words, this does not constitute alcoholism. Anything above this would mean a step towards alcoholism or addiction to the chemical. In the same way, one can progress up the scale and find the required values.

The CIWA Alcohol Withdrawal Scale

There is an institute that mandates and standardizes the scale for use in the US health sector. The CIWA or Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol sets two variations of these values, the CIWA and the CIWA-r, where ‘R’ stands for the revised version. It is a 10-item scale used in the diagnosis and assessment of alcohol addiction related cases and management of alcohol withdrawal. As the alcohol width was itself from the body and its fluids, it can take between days to weeks. The above scale makes it easy to understand the implications and references. 


Besides talking about the different values used for alcohol withdrawal scale and recommendations, one must understand the implications too. There can be minor to major symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Due to the central nervous system that becomes hyperactive during this state. It can include insomnia, mild anxiety, headache, gastro-disorders, and diaphoresis. If the withdrawal does not progress properly in 24 to 48 hours, consult a doctor immediately.

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