Treating Severe Alcohol Withdrawal

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal [that]… involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes.” It usually only occurs in alcoholics who have been drinking for ten years or longer. If a person begins to undergo delirium tremens after stopping their alcohol use, they will require intensive and professional treatment, as this condition can sometimes be deadly.

Inpatient Care is Necessary

An individual will need to be in a hospital setting, whether in an inpatient detox clinic, rehab center, or an actual hospital. This is because the symptoms of delirium tremens can change quickly and become much more intense without much warning. If someone is even in danger of experiencing this severe withdrawal syndrome, they should often be admitted into inpatient care immediately, even if they seem all right. Someone who has experienced delirium tremens before is more likely to experience it again if they begin to undergo alcohol withdrawal.

Pharmacological Treatments and Tests

Healthcare professionals in the treatment center must continuously test the body fluid levels, blood chemistry, and vital signs of the individual. This is so any change can be noted and the individual can receive any necessary treatments as soon as possible. Saving the person’s life and preventing any dangerous complications are the main goals of treatment, while relieving symptoms is also necessary to help put the individual at ease (NLM).

Sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, are often given “to help ease withdrawal symptoms,” according to the NLM. Sometimes, the individual may need to be sedated until the symptoms subside. This is because certain symptoms, like hallucinations, delirium, anxiety, seizures, and others, can be incredibly frightening for the patient and make their actions unpredictable, putting them in harm’s way. In order to minimize the chances of harm coming to the patient, they will often be sedated so they can more calmly go through withdrawal without suffering or being in danger.

Counseling and Other Treatments

support group treatment

Support groups are an important part of long term treatment.

After the symptoms begin to subside, it is extremely important that the individual starts a long-term treatment routine for their alcoholism. A person does not experience delirium tremens unless they have serious problems with alcohol misuse and an inability to control their intake of the substance. Therefore, certain other treatments may be necessary, such as:

  • One-on-one behavioral therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Family or couples therapy
  • Vocational counseling
  • Holistic methods such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, etc.
  • Support groups

A support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous, can be a beneficial tool for those individuals who have gone through delirium tremens and who are beginning a long-term treatment regimen. Those who adhere to and are in accord with the philosophies, attend meetings regularly, and get involved with other members in order to create a strong support system for themselves often thrive in support groups and find them to be very helpful to their overall recovery from alcohol dependence.

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