What Is Delirium Tremens?

by | Sep 12, 2022 | Addiction

Sometimes the fear of alcohol withdrawal outweighs the consequences of drinking too much.

But why is this the case?

Why would someone prefer the debilitating and life-threatening effects of alcohol addiction to the freedom of recovery?

Withdrawal symptoms can vary widely from person to person, depending on factors like the severity of their alcohol dependency.

One particularly severe impact of withdrawal is delirium tremens.

In this blog, we will cover:

  • What is delirium tremens?
  • Why does delirium tremens happen?
  • What does delirium tremens look like?
  • At what point in withdrawal do delirium tremens symptoms begin?
  • What are the risk factors for delirium tremens?
  • Treatment at Soul Surgery

What Is Delirium Tremens?

Delirium Tremens (DTs) is an intense reaction to alcohol withdrawal. It embodies a list of severe symptoms from intense mental and nervous system activity changes. This intense form of withdrawal is most common in heavy alcohol drinkers and people with long-term alcohol use disorders.

Why Does Delirium Tremens Happen?

Alcohol is a depressant substance that targets the central nervous system and brain activity. Drinking heavily over a long period causes your body to depend on the substance. Your body begins putting extra energy and effort into nerve communications and brain activity to try and maintain proper functioning.

When you suddenly stop heavy drinking, the body has yet to adapt to the lack of substance, creating withdrawal symptoms. In severe alcohol disorders, DTs can take place.

What Does Delirium Tremens Look Like?

Delirium Tremens causes severe symptoms, including vivid hallucinations and delusions. The symptoms of DTs impact both your physical and mental health. It’s important to note that only around 5% of people withdrawing will experience DTs and other symptoms of this intensity.

Delirium Tremens Physical Symptoms

  • Extreme confusion or agitation
  • High fever/body temperature
  • Vivid hallucinations of any or all the senses
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fast respirations
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Intense Anxiety
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme shakiness
  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating
  • Panic attacks
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating

At What Point in Withdrawal Do Delirium Tremens Symptoms Begin?

Delirium tremens symptoms generally begin 48-72 hours following your last drink.

Before this, you’ll experience more moderate withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, nausea, and headaches.

What are the Risk Factors for Delirium Tremens?

Heavy drinkers who exhibit the following are at higher risk of developing delirium tremens:

  • A history of DTs
  • Concurrent illness and medical problems
  • Daily heavy and prolonged ethanol consumption
  • Reducing alcohol intake too fast
  • Stop drinking suddenly
  • Have an infection
  • History of alcohol withdrawal
  • Previous brain damage
  • History of seizure disorder
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms within the first several days of withdrawal
  • Having a head injury

Treatment at Soul Surgery Integrative Medicine Addiction Centers

Our team at Soul Surgery in Arizona works with you to detox from alcohol addiction safely and effectively. We provide medication-assisted treatment to suppress withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of delirium tremens developing.

The medical professionals at our treatment centers monitor your symptoms and help you find what works best for your recovery.

What Does Alcoholism Treatment Include?

  • Access to our highly credentialed staff, including our psychiatrists, medical doctors, behavioral health therapists, yoga therapist, and many more.
  • Therapy sessions to help you understand and manage your addiction and develop healthy coping skills.
  • Additional evidence-based therapies like craniosacral therapy, family and relationship therapy, EMDR/trauma therapy, etc.
  • Holistic MedSpa services, including biosound therapy, full gym access, IV therapy,  massage therapy, and much more, help to support your recovery.
  • Medication management, if necessary.

Find Freedom from Alcohol Addiction with Soul Surgery

If you suffer from alcoholism and fear the effects of withdrawal, we’re here to help. Reach out to our team today if you’re ready to find freedom from alcohol and live a life of recovery.

Dr. Ravi Chandiramani
Dr. Ravi Chandiramani is a Naturopathic physician with over 15 years experience working with those struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Over those 15 years he has worked with over 7,000 patients. He is the founder of the Integrative Addiction Medicine (I-AM) model which combines evidence-based conventional addiction medicine with the nurturing and rebuilding modalities inherent to the practice of Naturopathic medicine.

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