Delirium tremens (DTs) commonly affect those who have been drinking heavily over a longer period of time. They are also more common in drinkers who have previously experienced withdrawal symptoms. Usually, symptoms occur between 48 to 96 hours from the last drink, but they can also show up a week to 10 days after cessation. This delayed onset is why quitting alcohol cold turkey is extremely dangerous, and can be fatal.
Alcohol depresses your central nervous system, and over time, your body works extra hard to keep your brain in a more awakened state. This creates an overactive nervous system, with the alcohol somewhat keeping it at bay. When you suddenly stop drinking, your body goes into shock because it is still operating in an elevated state, with nothing to bring it down. This is what causes withdrawal, possibly followed by DTs. The symptoms of delirium tremens are numerous, and can progress in severity very quickly, including:
- Body tremors
- Rapid heart rate
- Fever and sweating
- Decrease in mental function; stupor
- Hallucinations (typically auditory, and sometimes visual)
- Agitation and mood swings
- Fear or excitement
- Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound
- Cardiac events
Alcohol withdrawal is quite serious and should not be taken lightly. Delirium tremens are considered a medical emergency, and should be treated as such. Seizures may occur on their own, without other symptoms, and are typically:
- Most common in drinkers with a history of alcohol withdrawal symptoms or complications
- Generalized, major motor seizures
- Most common within 6 to 48 hours of last drink
If you are a heavy drinker, and have been drinking for awhile, you should never attempt to detox on your own. Though you may feel as though you can tough it out, delirium tremens can strike when you are least expecting them, and they can kill you. With adequate treatment, death can occur in 1 to 15% of patients. Without proper treatment and medical detox, the mortality rate from delirium tremens is between 15 to 40%.
It is simply not worth the risk to withdraw from alcohol on your own. Not only will medical detox help prevent your untimely death, but it provides a much more comfortable transition for your mind and body. Don’t risk your life any longer. Give us a call, and we will help and support you on your path to a better, healthier life in recovery.
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