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Delirium Tremens: What Are They And How Long Do They Last?

Delirium Tremens (DTs) is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that can occur during alcohol withdrawal. Understanding what delirium tremens are and how long they last is crucial for those affected by alcoholism and their loved ones. At Retreat of Atlanta, we offer effective alcohol detox in Atlanta, Georgia.

Our medically monitored detox provides a safe, comfortable alcohol withdrawal, while monitoring and treating the symptoms associated with delirium tremens. If you or someone you love has been struggling with a moderate or severe alcohol use disorder and needs help to quit, call us now at 762-242-6556 or verify your insurance

What Are Delirium Tremens?

Delirium tremens, often abbreviated as DTs, is a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol. It is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and can lead to significant physical and mental health complications. DTs typically occur in individuals who have been drinking heavily for a long period and suddenly stop or drastically reduce their alcohol intake.

Causes of Delirium Tremens

The primary cause of delirium tremens is a sudden cessation or reduction in heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption. Alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, and chronic use can lead to physical dependence. When alcohol intake is suddenly stopped, the body struggles to adjust, leading to withdrawal symptoms. DTs result from the brain’s hyperactivity due to the absence of alcohol’s depressive effects.

man suffering from delirium tremens

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens symptoms usually start 48 to 96 hours after the last drink, but they can begin as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days after cessation. 

The symptoms can vary in intensity and may include:

  • Severe confusion: Sudden and severe confusion or delirium is a hallmark of DTs.
  • Hallucinations: Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations can occur, causing the person to see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there.
  • Seizures: Alcohol withdrawal seizures are common and can be a precursor to DTs.
  • Agitation: Intense agitation, restlessness, and irritability.
  • Fever: High fever can be a symptom, often accompanied by sweating.
  • Tremors: Severe shaking or trembling, particularly in the hands.
  • Hypertension: Elevated blood pressure.
  • Tachycardia: Rapid heart rate.
  • Diaphoresis: Excessive sweating.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Gastrointestinal distress is common.

Diagnosis of Delirium Tremens

A diagnosis of delirium tremens is typically based on a combination of the client’s medical history, physical examination, and reported symptoms. Healthcare providers will assess the severity of alcohol use, the duration of drinking, and the timeline of withdrawal symptoms. Blood tests may be conducted to check for electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and other complications associated with DTs.

Treatment of Delirium Tremens

Immediate medical attention is crucial for anyone experiencing DTs. Treatment usually takes place in a medical detox center and may include:

  • Medication: Benzodiazepines are commonly used to manage symptoms and prevent seizures. Other medications may be used to address specific symptoms like antipsychotics for hallucinations or anticonvulsants for seizures.
  • Fluid and electrolyte replacement: Intravenous fluids and electrolyte supplements can help address dehydration and imbalances.
  • Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of vital signs and neurological status to detect and treat complications promptly.
  • Nutritional support: Thiamine (vitamin B1) and other vitamins may be administered to prevent Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a serious condition associated with severe alcohol withdrawal.

How Long Do Delirium Tremens Last?

The duration of delirium tremens can vary, but symptoms typically peak around 72 hours after they begin. Most individuals will start to see improvement within 5 to 7 days. However, some symptoms, such as fatigue and mood swings, may persist for several weeks or longer. Early and effective treatment can significantly shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Preventing Delirium Tremens

The best way to prevent delirium tremens is to avoid heavy and prolonged alcohol use. For individuals with alcohol dependence, it is essential to seek professional help before attempting to quit alcohol. Medical detox programs, like those offered at Retreat of Atlanta, provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to withdraw from alcohol under the supervision of healthcare professionals.

Our Atlanta Alcohol Detox Services

At Retreat of Atlanta, we offer a comprehensive alcohol detox program designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals beginning their recovery journey. 

Our services include:

  • Medical Supervision: Our detox program is overseen by experienced medical professionals who monitor clients 24/7 to ensure their safety and comfort.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment: We use medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, making the detox process more manageable.
  • Therapeutic Support: We provide individual therapy and group therapy sessions to address the psychological aspects of addiction and support emotional healing.
  • Holistic Therapies: Our program includes holistic therapies such as mindfulness, yoga, and nutritional support to promote overall well-being.
  • Family Counseling: We offer family counseling to help repair relationships and build a supportive network for long-term recovery.

Our goal is to create a solid foundation for recovery by addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of addiction. 

Learn More About Alcohol Detox in Atlanta, Georgia Today

Delirium tremens is a severe and potentially fatal condition that requires immediate medical attention. Understanding what delirium tremens are, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing how long they last can help individuals seek timely and appropriate treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol dependence, contact Retreat of Atlanta for compassionate and comprehensive care. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve a safe and successful recovery.

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