Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Occurring in 5% of acute alcohol withdrawal cases, Delirium Tremens (The DTs) is a highly lethal reaction that the body can have when alcohol is removed from the system. 35% of untreated Delirium Tremens cases are fatal. 5% of treated cases still end in death. Long term and heavy alcohol consumption, especially in tandem with benzodiazapine addiction, increases the likelihood that a person will succumb to the DTs upon withdrawal from one or both substances.

Excessive consumption of alcohol causes changes in the brain's GABA receptors which cause the body to produce more norepinephrine, dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin - all of which further the drinker's tolerance to alcohol. When the regular dosage of ethyl alcohol is removed the GABA receptors are still unable to process the normal levels of GABA that the brain produces and therefore the GABA chemical cannot regulate the already elevated adrenergic chemicals. This causes what is refered to as an adrenergic storm.

During this adrenergic storm the patient will experience symptoms such as hypertension, hyperthermia, hyperreflexia, diaphoresis, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and agitation. The adrenaline system is so out of control that it can very easily kill the patient. The DTs are treated with large doses of benzodiazapines, such as ativan, to continue to block GABA reuptake so that the patient can be slowly weened off. Valium is also used to calm the adrenergic chemicals in the body.

The Delerium Tremens are a well documented and long-standing plague worldwide. Various colloquial terms have been used through the years to describe the DTs including "the horrors", "the fear", "the abdabs" or "the rats."

Since this sick is relatively lethal if untreated and causes some pretty crazy psychological symptoms, I rate it a
5 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)
and a 5 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)

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