DTs; Alcohol withdrawal - delirium tremens
The goals of treatment are to:
A hospital stay is needed. The health care team will regularly check:
Symptoms such as seizures and irregular heartbeat are treated with the following medications:
The patient may need to be put into a sedated state for a week or more until withdrawal is complete. Benzodiazepine medications such as diazepam or lorazepam also help treat seizures, anxiety, and tremors.
Antipsychotic medications such as haloperidol may sometimes be needed for persons with hallucinations. However, these drugs should be avoided if possible because they may contribute to seizures.
Long-term preventive treatment should begin after the patient recovers from immediate symptoms. This may involve a "drying out" period, in which no alcohol is allowed. Total and lifelong avoidance of alcohol (abstinence) is recommended for most people who go through withdrawal. The person should receive treatment for alcohol use or alcoholism, including:
The patient should be tested, and if needed, treated for other medical problems that can occur with alcohol use. Such problems may include:
For additional resources, see alcoholism support group.
Delirium tremens is serious and may be life threatening. Some symptoms may last for a year or more, including:
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms. Delirium tremens is an emergency condition.
O'Connor PG. Alcohol abuse and dependence. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 31.
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