What is the role of alcohol in the prevention and treatment of delirium tremens (DTs)?

Updated: Nov 06, 2020
  • Author: Michael James Burns, MD, FACEP, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

The use of alcohol to prevent or treat alcohol withdrawal and DTs is not recommended. Alcohol has multiple toxicities, including pancreatitis, hepatitis, cardiomyopathy, gastritis, and bone marrow suppression. It also has a short half-life and requires monitoring of blood levels when used intravenously, and its use may make it appear to the patient with alcoholism who is beginning recovery that alcohol intake is being condoned. Alcohol treatment has not been shown in controlled trials to be effective in preventing seizures or DTs.


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