Skip to main content
351 Burley Ave Lexington, KY 40503 Phone: 859-681-7823 Email:

Delirium Tremens: Signs, Causes, and Detox

Struggling with alcohol addiction leads to an array of health concerns, including delirium tremens. Alcohol addiction affects the brain and body negatively in different ways, leading to long lasting impacts on health and wellness. Often, those struggling with alcohol have a hard time ending their drinking due to the effects of alcohol withdrawal, and can require professional help to prevent complications like delirium tremens, or DTs. Understanding DTs and the effects it can have on your body is crucial to getting the proper care.

Delirium Tremens Overview

Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It is a rare and life threatening condition that occurs after a period of heavy drinking, usually in individuals with a history of alcohol addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms. Not everyone struggling with alcohol will exhibit signs of alcohol withdrawal, and only a small percentage of those that do will experience DTs. The symptoms of DTs usually progress from withdrawal symptoms. This can include agitation and irritability, confusion, tremors, tachycardia, hallucinations and seizures. If proper medical care is not sought out, this condition could be fatal.

Delirium Tremens and Final Stage Alcoholism

Final stage alcoholism is just as life threatening as delirium tremens is, and also requires professional and medical intervention. During final stage alcoholism, a person has generally been struggling with alcohol for a longer period of time and has begun to experience long term repercussions from drinking. This can include damage to vital organs, like their liver, that results in the need for long term medical care. Individuals with final stage alcoholism are more likely to develop delirium tremens as they begin the process of detoxification from alcohol. Those who are experiencing final stage alcoholism should seek professional help for alcohol addiction in order to be closely monitored to prevent complications such as DTs. 

Signs of Delirium Tremens

Individuals who are experiencing signs of potential delirium tremens should seek medical attention immediately. These signs include:

  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue

The signs and symptoms of DTs are similar to alcohol withdrawal. However, these symptoms progressively worsen as time goes on. Receiving medical care as swiftly as possible helps to prevent complications and even death. 

Does Delirium Tremens Go Away On Its Own?

Delirium tremens can cause permanent damage to the brain. If left untreated, a person could have long lasting effects of the condition, or it could result in death. It is a condition requiring medical intervention and treatment in order to overcome DTs. There are a number of potential risks when an individual is experiencing DTs. These risks should be monitored by medical professionals as they can provide the best course of action in order to prevent worsening of symptoms and further damage to the brain and other vital organs in the body. It is important to stress the need for medical attention for anyone who is going through withdrawal from alcohol and experiencing signs and symptoms of DTs. These symptoms can progress quickly and have devastating results. 

How Long Does It Last?

Much like withdrawal from alcohol, there is no real set time frame for recovery from delirium tremens. There is a general timeline that can be given of what to expect, and potential length of time it can be expected, however everybody heals and recovers at different paces. Some people may exhibit symptoms for longer periods of time, and others may begin to recover quicker. Generally, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can begin as little as 6-24 hours after drinking has ceased. Within 12-48 hours, more severe symptoms like hallucinations or seizures can occur. This is when normal alcohol withdrawal can progress into delirium tremens. Symptoms of delirium tremens, with proper care, may subside in 3-4 days, but can take 8-10 days to fully recover. 

Treatment and Detox

An individual who is experiencing symptoms of DTs should treat it as a medical emergency. It should be treated and managed under round the clock care either in a hospital ICU or inpatient setting. This provides the capability of medication being administered to treat the symptoms, preventing further complication. Once stabilized, and symptoms of withdrawal have subsided, a person can then undergo the much needed care for alcohol addiction in order to prevent the cycle from continuing. Medication assisted treatment can be beneficial for individuals who have experienced delirium tremens, as it usually occurs in individuals with a longer history of alcohol abuse. This form of treatment helps individuals to gain long term sobriety, through assistance from preventative medications. 

Overcoming Alcoholism

Struggling with alcohol addiction can cause a wake of destruction in a person’s life. It can lead to fractured relationships, job loss, as well as mental and physical repercussions. The right kind of help can assist an individual to overcome their addiction to alcohol and begin to repair the damage caused by alcohol addiction while regaining control of their life. If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol, we can help. Lexington Addiction Center offers comprehensive, proven care to individuals struggling with alcohol so they can overcome and begin a healthy and productive lifestyle. Call us today and begin your journey of recovery.