Did you Stop Drinking Alcohol? What Are Delirium Tremens?

in Alcohol
Published Mar 26, 2021
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Alcohol misuse is currently on the rise in the United States with factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic adding to the problem. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around 68,000 men and 27,000 women will die annually due to alcohol addiction. It can be difficult to stop drinking alcohol after drinking heavily for a long amount of time due to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. In severe cases, an individual may experience delirium tremens when they attempt to stop drinking alcohol. This is a rare yet critical condition that will require emergency care.

Stopped Drinking Alcohol? What are Delirium Tremens?

Delirium Tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal, it occurs when one has stopped drinking alcohol. It involves major mental or nervous system changes when a person stops drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and it can interact with GABA or Gamma aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Overtime, it can change the way GABA functions. When a person suddenly stops consuming alcohol, the nervous system will struggle to regulate itself to the change and will then overreact which leads to unpleasant and dangerous side effects.

Delirium Tremens can even lead the body to struggle to successfully perform highly necessary bodily processes like circulating blood flow and can result in death. It can first start as early as 48 hours after a person’s last drink and it can last for as long as five days or longer. Because it is so serious, it is essential that it is identified quickly so that an individual can get the treatment they need. There is a high mortality rate associated with Delirium Tremens but if it is treated early on, a patient will have a much higher chance of survival.

Delirium Tremens is particularly common in individuals who have gone through the process of detoxing, stopped drinking alcohol, in the past as well as those who have been using alcohol heavily over the course of ten years or more.

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens

The symptoms of Delirium Tremens can vary from patient to patient. They could include but are not limited to:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Fever
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dehydration


Treatment for Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens is considered to be a medical emergency so treatment should start right away. It will typically involve medication transmitted through an IV. Because the individual will likely be severely dehydrated, it is essential to ensure they are getting plenty of fluids. Because they will likely not feel up to hydrating orally, they can be hydrated intravenously. A patient experiencing Delirium Tremens will likely be highly agitated and will face some potentially very serious medical conditions. Sometimes it requires patients to be heavily sedated and put on a ventilator in order to manage their symptoms. It is for this reason that Delirium Tremens is often treated in the intensive care unit or a specialized medical ward that provides 24/7 supervision. Benzodiazepines will likely be prescribed to ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and to prevent possible seizures. There are several benzodiazepines that could be utilized such as lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), or chlordiazepoxide (Librium).

Even after the patient is released from the hospital, they will still need to take the necessary steps to avoid relapse. A solid aftercare plan is important for anyone seeking long term health and wellness. Someone who is returning to their potential daily stressors, i.e., work or school, will need support including medical and mental health professionals. It is often important for further education for the individual and their family so everyone feels empowered to take their recovery to their next phase of life.

At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we offer a wide variety of resources to assist those struggling with alcohol use. We utilize the Gallus Method which we believe is the safest and most effective method of detoxification. It involves an individualized treatment plan, the use of IV Therapy to manage withdrawal symptoms, 24/7 medical supervision and a personalized plan for a long term recovery after a patient leaves our facility. Our goal is to ensure you are kept as comfortable as possible as you make your way through the detox process. We also offer a number of other resources such as an Aftercare Planning Guide which can assist you with maintaining a successful recovery.

Delirium Tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that requires medical treatment right away. It comes with very dangerous symptoms that should be managed under 24/7 medical supervision. If not treated immediately, this condition could be fatal. At Gallus Medical Detox Centers we can help you throughout each step of recovery from the detox process to aftercare. We aim to ensure that you are kept as comfortable as possible throughout the detox process and are treated with the respect and dignity that you deserve. Our highly experienced medical staff work with care and are highly specialized in the detox process. If you are ready to take the first step towards sobriety, we are here to help. We can help you take your life back so that you can be both happier and healthier. Contact us today at (866) 296-5242 and one of our staff members will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services and the detox process.