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What Is Delirium Tremens?

a man struggles with alcohol abstinence and delirium tremens

Trying to quit a long-term alcohol addiction can be intimidating and dangerous, potentially even deadly. Following someone’s last drink, acute withdrawal symptoms can cause extreme discomfort and severe health consequences, like delirium tremens (DTs). But what is delirium tremens? DTs is a rare but life-threatening condition that can occur after someone struggling with alcoholism stops drinking. Managing delirium tremens and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be difficult without professional help.

If you are ready to stop drinking but are concerned about withdrawal symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help. The team at Northpoint Seattle knows how important it is to have support when you start your recovery journey. Call 888.483.6031 or contact us online today to learn more about delirium tremens and alcohol addiction treatment.

What Is Delirium Tremens?

DTs is the most serious and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptom after quitting alcohol. Symptoms of delirium tremens typically start within 48 to 96 hours after someone’s last drink, but they may also begin up to 10 days afterward.

Symptoms of DTs are similar to other types of alcohol withdrawal but tend to be more severe. DTs is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment since it can lead to death.

The Dangers of Delirium Tremens

As mentioned, DTs is a rare but life-threatening withdrawal symptom. It’s important to note that not everyone who struggles with alcoholism will experience it. Still, you should be aware of the dangers of delirium tremens and what to look for if you or a loved one struggle with alcohol addiction.

While DTs is typically associated with withdrawal from alcohol, it can also occur after someone stops using other drugs, such as benzodiazepines.

Who Gets Delirium Tremens?

The exact cause of DTs is unknown, but risk factors include:

  • Age older than 65 years
  • Previous experience with DTs or other withdrawal symptoms
  • Using multiple drugs at the same time
  • High alcohol tolerance
  • A history of head injuries, seizures, or strokes
  • Long-term alcohol use
  • Stopping alcohol suddenly (going “cold turkey”) instead of tapering off
  • Alcohol withdrawal seizures
  • Severely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Liver cirrhosis or severe liver disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Serious heart problems, such as coronary artery disease

If you have some of the risk factors for DTs and are ready to stop drinking, it is critical to find help to withdraw from alcohol. Failing to find help could be deadly.

Delirium Tremens Symptoms

DTs is a complex condition with symptoms that vary from person to person. Typical physical and psychological symptoms include:

  • Agitation or excitability
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia or sleep disruptions, such as nightmares
  • Changes in vision, including seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) or being unable to focus

Short-Term Effects of Delirium Tremens

The short-term effects of delirium tremens are life-threatening and require prompt care. DTs can cause hallucinations, seizures, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and blood pressure and heart rate changes that can be fatal if left untreated.

Long-Term Effects of Delirium Tremens

Long-term effects of delirium tremens include increased seizures and a higher risk of death. The long-term impact of DTs can be reduced by seeking treatment at the first sign of withdrawal symptoms.

The Importance of Treating Delirium Tremens and Alcohol Addiction

It is important to treat delirium tremens (DTs) and alcohol addiction due to the potential health risks associated with them. Those who suffer from DTs are at risk of developing permanent neurological damage, especially in cases where treatment is not begun quickly enough. Additionally, DTs can be fatal if left untreated.

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that affects both physical and psychological health. Heavy drinking over time can cause liver damage, heart problems, and an increased risk for certain types of cancer. Additionally, it increases the risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired judgment or motor skills caused by intoxication.

Both DTs and alcohol addiction can also lead to social issues such as unemployment, strained relationships with family members and friends, and legal problems. Treating both of these issues can help individuals regain control of their lives, improve relationships, and reduce the risk of dangerous outcomes.

Learn More About Alcohol Rehab at Northpoint Seattle

Now that you know what delirium tremens is, it’s time to get help. At Northpoint Seattle, we understand the importance of having a strong support system when you’re in recovery. Our programs work to help you overcome addiction and achieve long-lasting sobriety through therapy and group work. Our treatment programs include an outpatient program, an intensive outpatient program, and a partial hospitalization program to meet your unique needs. We also offer aftercare support to help you maintain your sobriety after treatment.

We believe in the power of recovery and are here to help you every step of the way. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, professional treatment at Northpoint Seattle can help to regain control of life and build a sober future. Call 888.483.6031 or complete our confidential online form today to get started on your journey to sobriety.