Racial variations in the incidence of severe alcohol withdrawal

Gar Ming Chan, Robert S. Hoffman, Jeffrey A. Gold, Paula J. Whiteman, Lewis R. Goldfrank, Lewis S. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The use of race as a risk assessment tool and pharmacologic target has garnered recent attention and debate. It is currently unclear if a relationship between race and the development of severe alcohol withdrawal exists. We explored this potential relationship using several study groups. Methods: A simultaneous prospective enrollment of patients and retrospective chart review of severe alcohol withdrawal in two separate settings was performed comparing both the incidence of withdrawal and alcoholism based on race. These two study groups were then compared to an at risk group of alcoholics and the general ED population to determine differences in the distribution of race. Results: Individuals of white race in both study groups were at increased odds [OR 1.93 (CI 1.11-3.39) and 2.19 (CI 1.41-3.40)] of having severe alcohol withdrawal when compared to non-White at risk alcoholics. Blacks in both study groups however, appear to have lower odds [OR 0.23 (CI 0.11-0.47) and 0.11 (CI 0.05-0.23)] of having severe alcohol withdrawal when compared to nonBlack at risk alcoholics. Conclusions: Despite the controversial use of race in medical research and targeting therapies, there appears to be a difference in the odds of severe alcohol withdrawal based on race. The reasons for this finding are currently unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Alcoholism
  • Ethnicity
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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