What is the role of benzodiazepines for the 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

Benzodiazepines are considered the drugs of choice for the management of all stages of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, including DTs. They act on the benzodiazepine-GABA-chloride receptor complex, having a similar GABA-potentiating effect as alcohol. Prospective, randomized clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of benzodiazepines in treating the symptoms and signs of alcohol withdrawal and have also shown a protective benefit against seizures. [18] Although they are thought by many to have a high margin of safety, the heterogeneity of the trials in interventions and in assessment of outcomes prevent definitive conclusions about safety and harms.


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