delirium tremens

What You Should Know About Delirium Tremens

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Alcoholic beverages of all sorts have been around for thousands of years, even dating back to prehistoric times. Whether celebrating or mourning for some sort of event, it has been an acceptable liquid to sip on for most of man kind’s time. I mean why not? It makes you a little loopy, inhibits motor functions a bit, and generally makes things a bit more warming and pleasant. That’s great though- for most people.

Then we bring in the cavalry. We take this wonderful fun creating beverage and put it in the hands of some of the best fun-havers in the world. What could go wrong? Well, there’s a special breed of us fun having kids that are called alcoholics. We are by and large addicted to most anything we find satisfaction in and only desire more and more of it. This is so much of the case that we take this delectable fun creating liquid and drink it to the brink of insanity. We guzzle alcohol down to the point where our bodies become dependent on it. Our minds are already obsessed with the need and want for it, our internal organs are shutting down from not being able to process all the ethanol, and all we can do is think about knocking down more of it. There’s never enough of it, and unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration either. Then when all is done with and the binge is over, there is heavy detoxification that is in order. The detoxifying process can be crucial after all the detrimental things done to the human body are being reversed. Usually, there is nausea, fevers, chills, loss of appetite and more. In more severe cases there is delirium tremens or even death.

Batten Down the Hatches- It Gets Ugly

Delirium tremens will rattle a person to their core and make everything seem like living in a pipe dream. By and far, alcohol is one of the most serious substances to experience withdrawals from. The receptors in our bodies cling onto alcohol quicker because it is a simpler compound than a lot of other chemicals we shove into our bodies from various narcotics. That being said, the tremens are usually most likely to occur if somebody has been abusing high doses of alcohol consistently for weeks on end. They will occur typically after a few days into withdrawal and can put production of the mind and body working together to a halt.

Psychologically speaking, one of the biggest side effects experienced is mild hallucinations during the course of it.  It is very common once it kicks in for people to start hearing or seeing things that are not reality. This includes while being physically awake and even in an unconscious state. The DT’s will also cause nightmares and mild disorientation. Sitting in a state of confusion is never a fun choice for anybody. Forming proper sentences and basic understandings are of tiresome difficulty. When the gears are turning but there’s nothing clicking upstairs, that in itself can be torturous if endured for lengthy amounts of time.  

confused man

Aside from the voices and shadows being present, the physical pain compared to regular withdrawal symptoms doesn’t even compare. Most people experience harsh shaking and/or shivering. In some circumstances, the alcoholic will find themselves going through an involuntary seizure. This can be a very scary occurrence as all motor skills and control can be lost during this. Having strong unexpected seizures can cause permanent damage physically and mentally if not taken care of medically speaking. Frequently, these shivers and shakes can also create tremors for the detoxifying alcoholic.

Now to paint a clearer picture of the situation were looking at. Generally speaking, the DT’s will create high pulse, high blood pressure, and hyper intense breathing. These three things all paired together can increase the likelihood of death in extreme withdrawal occurrences. The heart is a fragile organ and is of utter importance for pumping the blood that keeps us alive.  If not attended to in a professional manner, these spiked increases can cause fevers and jump the mortality rate way up. Should the heart have too much strain on it from the toxins pushing their way out, it could go into failure very quickly.

To be kept on the record, getting the DT’s is not a death sentence. It is very much possible for them to occur after long bouts of drinking, go through the painful withdrawal process, and be alive and kicking after a few weeks. However, if it can be prevented, why not stop the misery in its tracks before it gets too late? In some cases, the symptoms can be so brutal that benzodiazepines are required to normalize bodily functions. The chemical functions of certain benzos will help to regulate the heart rate and different levels of psychosis that are being experienced. This is to be done by medical supervision. This is a process called Pharmacotherapy. This form of therapy is only successful under medical attention and even the slightest of mistakes could mean life or death for a person in extreme withdrawal as such.  In more ruthless cases than that, benzos are used to prevent death.

Aside from pharmacotherapy, there isn’t any real cure or treatment specifically for cases of Delirium Tremens. Don’t be mistaken, for it is a serious form of withdrawal to not be taken lightly. It is recommended in all cases for some form of medical administration to be present during this severe course of detoxification.

Stop Before the Delirium Tremens Stop You

It’s never easy to just take a step back and admit that there is a problem. Often times, alcoholics will read a segment like this and have that light bulb click upstairs. “This is all fitting. I do drink a lot. I am experiencing XYZ”. It’s never too late to reach out for help until death finally arrives. Don’t be the next statistic adding to the mortality rate of alcoholics. Get better. Get help. If you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and are ready for help, please call 1-844-489-0836 or visit We are ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path that we can all be proud of.

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