Delirium Tremens (DTs): What is it, Signs, Timeline, Risk Factors & Treatment

Delirium Tremens

What is Delirium Tremens?

When a person becomes addicted to alcohol, a professional will diagnose an alcohol use disorder. One of the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder is the experience of withdrawal, or unpleasant side effects, when a person reduces alcohol consumption or stops drinking. Withdrawal occurs because the body becomes dependent upon alcohol and then does not function properly without it.

Sometimes alcohol withdrawal is mild and includes symptoms such as tremor, headache, and upset stomach, which pass within a few days, according to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal. On the other hand, severe cases of withdrawal can lead to a serious condition called delirium tremens. Experts report that only about 5 percent of people who suffer from alcohol withdrawal will experience delirium tremens, but those who do will require immediate medical treatment.

Alcohol Withdrawal Protocol

Alcohol Withdrawal Protocol

Moderate drinking, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined as one drink per day for women and two per day for men, can be safe for people who are of legal drinking age and who do not have health conditions that make alcohol consumption dangerous.

While moderate drinking is generally acceptable from a health standpoint, drinking more than a moderate amount can result in health consequences, such as injuries, increased risk of cancer, and even alcohol addiction.

When a person develops an alcohol addiction, which medical professionals diagnose as an alcohol use disorder, he or she is likely to undergo alcohol withdrawal when alcohol consumption is reduced or stopped.

In cases of alcohol withdrawal, it is important to seek the advice and care of a medical professional to prevent complications. Professionals who treat alcohol withdrawal will follow an alcohol withdrawal protocol to ensure the best outcomes for patients.

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications: What Can Happen

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications

While alcohol can be safe in moderation, alcohol abuse is dangerous and can lead to various problems, such motor vehicle crashes, health issues, and even alcohol addiction. The development of an alcohol addiction, which medical professionals refer to as an alcohol use disorder, is more likely when a person drinks heavily.

Heavy drinking, as described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as women consuming more than three drinks in a day and men consuming more than four drinks on a given day, can lead a person to become dependent upon alcohol. This means that when a person stops drinking, he or she will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Undergoing alcohol withdrawal is one of the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. While withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be mild and relatively harmless, there are cases when a person can experience complications from alcohol withdrawal.

What to Expect When Withdrawing from Alcohol

What to Expect When Withdrawing from Alcohol

So, you’ve made the decision to stop drinking or are looking to help someone stop drinking. This is an amazing first step towards recovery from alcohol abuse or addiction. The fear that comes along with quitting alcohol is normal. People might be are scared to quit drinking because all they can think about is the alcohol withdrawal symptoms they are going to experience. Everyone experiences alcohol detox in their own way. With this being said, there are some things that you can expect when detoxing from alcohol.

Importance of Detoxing from Alcohol

The first part of treatment for an alcohol addiction is the detox stage. During this stage, the alcohol will be flushed out of the body. For most people, the symptoms of withdrawal are going to subside between 1 to 2 weeks after beginning detox. However, for some people, this can take a bit longer. This is usually dependent upon how severe your alcohol use disorder has been. After detoxing from alcohol, it is important that you consider other courses of treatment such as counseling, recovery activities, and other support options.

The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

When consumed occasionally or in moderation, alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, people who drink heavily may be at risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, heavy drinking can be defined as a man consuming more than four drinks in a given day and a woman consuming more than three drinks in a day.

When people drink heavily and develop an alcohol addiction, their bodies can become dependent upon alcohol, meaning they will not function properly in the absence of alcohol. This can result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when a person gives up drinking. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous or even fatal.

Common Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

While drinking in moderation can be safe and even have some health benefits, heavy alcohol use can increase the risk of an alcohol use disorder, which is the clinical term for an alcohol addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describes heavy alcohol use as over four drinks in a given day for men and over three drinks in a day for women.

Those who have been heavily abusing alcohol may develop an addiction and experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. Withdrawal occurs because over time, the body adapts to the presence of alcohol and does not function the same without it. When a person is unable to function normally in the absence of alcohol, this is called alcohol dependence.