Delirium tremens, or DTs, is a severe group of symptoms that can occur as you detox from alcohol, but how much do you have to drink to get delirium tremens? At Promises, we offer alcohol addiction treatment services to help you safely start your recovery. Contact us at 844.875.5609 to learn more about our treatment programs.
Delirium Tremens: Understanding These Complex Symptoms
Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that occurs after a period of heavy drinking in people who have developed a tolerance to alcohol.
To understand why delirium tremens occurs, you first have to know what alcohol does to your system when you abuse it.
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down activity in the central nervous system. It impacts GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that prevents nerve cells from sending or receiving signals. In addition, it impacts glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that regulates mood, memory, and cognition by activating nerve cells.
Alcohol changes the balance between these two neurotransmitters as you develop a tolerance because your body has to adjust to having large quantities of alcohol present in its system.
If you stop drinking, alcohol levels in the blood decrease too rapidly for your body to adjust, which reduces GABA activity and increases glutamate activity. When GABA levels are too low to provide a balance to the high levels of neuron-activating glutamate, your entire neural system develops an over-excitability that can put your life at risk.
That’s when delirium tremens begins. Symptoms can include:
- Rapid breathing
- Dangerously high blood pressure
For some people, the symptoms can begin within six hours of their last drink, while for others, they can take up to two days to appear.
How Much Do You Have to Drink to Get Delirium Tremens?
Although delirium tremens can occur to anyone with an alcohol use disorder who abruptly stops drinking, some people are more likely to develop the symptoms than others.
It is more likely to occur after a prolonged period of very heavy drinking, especially in the weeks leading up to the attempt at withdrawal.
The kind of heavy drinking that can lead to delirium tremens includes consuming, per day:
- Seven to eight pints of beer
- Four to five pints of wine
- One pint of hard liquor
For men, it can mean drinking more than three drinks a day or more than 15 a week, while for women, it means more than two drinks a day or more than eight a week.
Other factors that can increase your chances of developing DTs include having attempted to go through withdrawal before and age. Older people are more at risk.
If you take medications or if you have health conditions, you are also more at risk of developing delirium tremens.
The most important factor, however, is how much you drink. The more you drink, the higher the risk.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse at Promises
Breaking away from an alcohol addiction is never easy. You may have the most powerful motivations to get sober, and yet the difficulty of managing the detox process on your own can set you back.
Unfortunately, delirium tremens is unpredictable and can develop many hours after the withdrawal symptoms start. There is a solution, though: medical detox services.
Being able to rely on professionals to notice when symptoms get worse is essential. By having experts at your side as you go through withdrawal, you can remain stable and comfortable.
With our experts ready to help you manage the entire detox process, you can start your recovery safely. Contact Promises today at 844.875.5609.