Past Issues

The Betel Nut Withdrawal: An Often Overlooked Psychiatric Condition?

Yung-Lung Chen, Winston W. Shen, Mong-Liang Lu

Objective: The use of betel nut has been widespread in Southeast Asia and the
south Pacifi c islands. Betel nut-chewing leads to habituation, addiction, and withdrawal.
We report a case of a patient with betel nut withdrawal which had been an
often overlooked psychiatric problem. Case Report: A 51-year-old male patient
with habitual chewing of betel nuts developed withdrawal symptoms after stopping
his betel nut use. Those symptoms included mood swings, anxiety, sleep disturbances,
and fl u-like symptoms. His symptoms were resolved after receiving
supportive pharmacological treatments with a low dose of antidepressant/anxiolytic
and hypnotics. Conclusion: Our patient in this case report supported the concept
of clinically identifi able betel nut withdrawal and its dependence, which can
be diagnosed using criteria similar to those currently used for other substances of
abuse. Based on the report in this case and those in the literature, we are calling attention
to this psychiatric problem of betel use.
Key Word betel nut, withdrawal, dependence
Editorial Committe, Taiwanese Journal of Psychiatry
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