Pink elephants kill – Dangers of Delirium Tremens (DT’s)

By David Joel Miller.

Seeing bugs when drinking?

There are lots of jokes about people seeing things while drinking. Having Delirium Tremens (D.T.’s) is no joke.

Withdrawal from Alcohol can be fatal. When we mention withdrawal from drugs most people think of the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Kicking Heroin can make someone wish they were dead, but alcohol withdrawal is far more likely to kill.

Deaths directly related to alcohol each year exceed all the deaths from other drugs, legal and illegal.

DT’s occur when the drinker is withdrawing from alcohol as the blood level is declining. Before modern medicine was available up to one-third of alcoholics with DT’s died during withdraw. Modern medical treatment has cut that rate dramatically but people do still die while sobering up.

If the drinker has EVER had hallucinations or a seizure when drinking or detoxing they need medical attention and should be detoxed in a hospital.

Other symptoms of DT’s can include fever, shakes, and formication. Tactile hallucinations, bugs or snakes crawling over the skin are commonly associated with the DT’s. These symptoms are sometimes worse at nights and can begin to occur days after the last drink as the body attempts to adjust to the absence of alcohol.

Any unusual symptoms that occur when an alcoholic stops drinking should be checked out by a medical professional.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


2 thoughts on “Pink elephants kill – Dangers of Delirium Tremens (DT’s)

  1. Pingback: What if you go to the hospital drunk or high? | counselorssoapbox

  2. Pingback: Medication to treat alcoholism – Disulfiram, Antabuse and Naltrexone | counselorssoapbox

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