Delirium tremens were first recognized medically and established since 1813, even though many had experienced it much before then. Delirium tremens also known as The D.T.’s are a kind of delirium though tremens specifically are alcohol induced most of the time. The D.T.’S which happen when one is has abruptly stopped drinking and is in the midst of a withdrawal from alcohol can lead one to experience seizures and can also be lethal. When alcohol induced delirium occurs, it only happens to people who have a history of alcohol addiction or when large amounts of alcohol are digested by the body. Alcohol use combined with benzodiazepines or barbiturates can also induce alcohol delirium and is the most dangerous combination, from a medical standpoint. Alcohol induced delirium is treated today by benzodiazepines and barbiturates which can turn into a deadly combination if not treated by a doctor or a medically trained supervisor. Alcohol withdrawal in general can be fatal. Thirty-five percent of people with alcoholism died before there was a medical treatment sought and today, five to fifteen percent die from withdrawals. Many more experience delirium as well as seizures that are not a part of the statistic above.
The main symptoms of alcohol induced delirium are hypotension, fever, tachycardia, dizziness, loss of memory for a portion of time, diarrhea, disorientation and agitation. People often “see pink elephants” which is a term used by medical supervisors that indicates the alcoholic is seeing things that are not there. These symptoms that do not always occur but a occur a portion of the time in patients with alcohol delirium are hallucinations such as sights of animals that are not there, sights of insects, snakes and rats and sights of giant spiders that are supposedly attacking the patient. These hallucinations are usually brought on by the patient’s surroundings such as the wallpaper. These symptoms can also be derived in the patient by association with schizophrenia. A more common hallucination for alcohol delirium patients without schizophrenia is known as formication. This is when the patient feels that something or things is crawling about the body and they nor others can get them properly washed off. No matter how many times the patient is washed or scrubbed, the patient still feels and possibly sees insects or certain animals crawling on them, until the episode subsides. Many also experience severe panic attacks, trouble making complete sentences and paranoia. D.T.’s most common side effects come in spurts of sensorium where the patient has lost all realization of the outside world and cannot distinguish anything from the hallucinations they are having. The patient also experiences sever autonomic hyperactivity such as high blood pressure, a high pulse and a high rate of breathing. Alcohol induced delirium is susceptible in patients who drink seven to eight pints of beer or over one pint of a distilled beverage every day. A consistent intake of alcohol beverages causes an unusually unpleasant response in the brain to try to regain homeostasis, and once someone has reached this point of alcohol dependence, an alcohol intervention is usually required, followed by an inpatient alcohol detox center then alcohol addiction treatment.