Alcohol dependence is a chronic disease whose treatment begins with detoxification, followed by rehabilitation. We present a descriptive and retrospective study of 147 patients admitted to our unit during the period 2003-2005. Median age was 46.07 years, with 77.6% men and 22.4% women. Admission diagnosis was alcohol withdrawal syndrome in 31 patients (21.1%) and programmed alcohol detoxification in 116 patients (78.9%). On the CIWA-Ar scale: mild withdrawal, 100 patients (68.5%), moderate, 35 patients (24%), severe, 11 patients (7.5%). Mild group showed a statistically significantly lower proportion of hepatopathy, by comparison with the moderate and severe groups. Statistically significant differences were found between the mild and severe groups on comparing mean age, duration of stay, quantity of alcohol and parameters of chronic consumption (ferritine, fe, VCM, UBE, AST, bilirubin and Mg) for AST and bilirubin. There were 11 seizures: 4 patients from the programmed group, with mild withdrawal on the CIWA-Ar scale, and 7 patients with moderate-severe withdrawal. No relationship was found between patients intensity of withdrawal syndrome, age or sex. There was higher intensity on the CIWA-Ar score (moderate and severe) among patients who had already begun withdrawal syndrome, compared to those admitted on a planned detoxification programme. The CIWA-Ar is a useful tool for assessing withdrawal symptoms and risks of complication and for planning treatment. Clinical practice must provide patients with access to health resources for the appropriate treatment of their addiction, with standardized assistance during their stay in hospital.