Delirium Tremens

What Is Delirium Tremens?


Delirium Tremens is a manifestation of late stages of alcoholism. The condition exists in a state of withdrawal from ethanol, and is a direct response to the attempted purging of physical dependence to alcohol. Also called DT, delirium tremens is one of the most severe symptoms of withdrawal, and affects one’s ability to function normally. While in a state of DT autonomic hyperactivity and global confusion translates into a heightened risk for fatality. Extended alcohol use disorders which have not been treated cause the destruction of critical neurotransmitters which help regulate moods and emotions. Among the receptors adversely affected include dopamine, glutamate, endogenous opiates, serotonin, and dopamine.

Essentially, without proper treatment, feeling normal or being able to function throughout a mundane day is nearly impossible with untreated DT. Those who attempt to withdrawal from alcohol outside of an accredited alcohol rehab center are subject to the potentially deadly delirium tremens. The condition typically shows itself on the third day of withdrawal, and lasts about the same amount of time.

It can take a mere month to establish DT- and the resulting symptoms are concurrent with benzodiazepine and barbiturate withdrawals. Treatment is crucially effective against DT and saves recovering drinkers from the potentially fatal hazard, and also mitigates symptoms altogether. The mortality rate without treatment is 40% on the high end of the spectrum. Oddly enough, DT seems to be aggravated by darkness. As such, medical care units are kept lit throughout DT’s stint to ensure comfortable alcohol recovery.


Did You Know?

Some people refer to delirium tremens as: barrel-fever, blue horrors, bottle ache, bats, drunken horror, quart mania, and pink spiders. Alcohol withdrawal treatment is the only safe way to overcome DT. 

Delirium Tremens imageDelirium Tremens Effects


Recognizing the signs of DT can save your life- although ideally, one who is experiencing DT will be in a medical treatment facility where doctors can aptly treat the conditions. Those without medical training will be wholly unable to render aid effectively, and may put the victim of DT in mortal danger. Alcohol withdrawal treatment from an accredited facility will completely eliminate the common symptoms of DT:



  • Nightmares/ Night Terrors
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Chest Pain
  • Stomach Pain
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Feeling of impending demise
  • Acute anxiety
  • Inability to speak


Although DT is typically experienced during withdrawal from alcohol, it may also occur after a drinking session wherein drinkers have not had anything to eat. The condition may also manifest as a result of a severe head injury or infection. Chronic alcoholism treatment may be necessary to prevent relapses.

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Delirium Tremens Signs

Delirium Tremens imageTo diagnoses DT doctors may look for preexisting signs of the condition, and will not wait for the condition to progress if it can be avoided. Medical professionals will keep on the lookout for:


  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Magnesium levels
  • Blood phosphate levels
  • Toxicology screening results
  • Ease of being startled



Treatment for Delirium Tremens & Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment


Delirium Tremens imageTypically those admitted for delirium tremens treatment will be prescribed sedatives for the duration of the condition as to quell the excitable central nervous system. Valium is a common medication prescribed for short term treatment. The remedying of DT is typically performed during alcohol detoxification and allows patients to continue alcohol recovery at full capacity, without being compromised.

Harbor Village provides alcohol withdrawal treatment withdrawal to promote a solid foundation for continuing addiction treatment. Most drug and alcohol treatment facilities wait until patients enter inpatient rehabilitation to begin initial treatment, and miss out on precious time counselors could have been helping recovering drinkers identify the laden catalysts fomenting drinking, and introducing preliminary alternatives to replace with drinking. DT is a sure fire sign which establishes the presence of a physical addiction, which is only one facet of alcohol addiction treatment. Extensive therapy is necessary to help treat the underlying emotions which are a direct cause of substance abuse disorders.

With proper guidance and treatment recovering drinkers can learn to live without alcohol, and eventually not have the initial mental response of wanting a drink in times of stress. It’s critical addiction treatment identifies not becoming a dry drunk, wherein recovered addicts abstain from drinking alcohol, but want to escape in alcohol at the signs of stress. Having to battle with the constant thoughts of returning to alcohol as a means of escape may position recovered drinkers to relapse in times of great trauma and stress.

Effective treatment eliminates the possibility of being a “dry drunk” and teaches you how to manage addiction beyond the folds of addiction treatment. Attending all levels of treatment from alcohol detoxification, residential drug treatment, outpatient treatment, and residency in a sober living community is essential for staving off relapse and solidifying the life training which will save your life and guarantee the ones around you will become active participants in your alcohol recovery process.


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