Alcohol and Opiate Withdrawal:Is Your Patient at Risk?

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

Presenter(s): Rosemary Lee, DNP, ARNP, ACNP-BC, CCNS, CCRN

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Webinar Summary

As the prevalence of alcohol and opiate use continues to rise, nurses need to know how to identify and treat critically ill patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) and opioid withdrawal. The unique characteristics of a critically ill patient make managing these cases even more challenging. For example, a patient may receive opiates and benzodiazepines, and/or require intubation, which may mask the onset of withdrawal as the symptoms are not immediately recognized. This webinar will feature advanced practice nurse Rosemary K. Lee discussing the importance of early recognition and risk mitigation for AWS in critically ill patients. Iatrogenic opioid withdrawal is also described. Lee will present evidence-based practice and case studies designed to help participants understand the prevalence of AWS and opiate withdrawal. Participants will increase their professional knowledge on the topic, and learn best practices they can apply in their work environments.


  • Identify risk assessment protocols nurses can implement to decrease the severity of withdrawal and support early management of symptoms.
  • Describe the focus of Joint Commission and CMS on the early screening, assessment and brief intervention for treatment of alcohol and opiate withdrawal in the ICU patient.
  • Critique case studies based on EBP that validates the incidence and severity of withdrawal in the critically ill patient.




Rosemary K. Lee is a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) for critical care and progressive care at Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Florida. Working collaboratively to improve outcomes in patient care, Lee serves as an expert in clinical practice, an educator, leader, researcher and consultant. In these roles, she influences the three spheres of practice - patient care, nursing and systems. In addition, she serves as adjunct faculty for the Health Professional Division, College of Nursing Nova, Southeastern University. Lee teaches at local, regional and national conferences and provides research consultation to hospitals and organizations throughout the U.S. She is published and considered an authority on several critical care topics.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. Approval of a continuing education activity does not imply endorsement by AACN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with the activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012 (60 min contact hour). AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing, California Provider number CEP01036 for 0.6 contact hours (50 min contact hour).

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.