What are the treatment options for delirium tremens (DTs) following discharged from the emergency department (ED)?

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

Some patients are discharged from the emergency department (ED) or hospital to a setting where medical supervision of detoxification and withdrawal is not available. If this is the case, treatment with a sedative agent that has a long duration of action, such as phenobarbital or a long-acting benzodiazepine (eg, diazepam, chlordiazepoxide), in the ED or hospital may be preferable and safer. Because the effect of these drugs may persist for several days after the last dose, this avoids the less desirable option of prescribing sedative agents for patients to take at home in an unsupervised manner. A patient who is discharged home to a nonmedically supervised environment with a prescription for a benzodiazepine or other sedative-hypnotic agent may misuse the drug, will often resume alcohol at the same time, and may resell the drugs or share them with other persons.


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