The most serious consequences of alcohol withdrawal do not usually occur until 3 to 5 days of abstinence. DT is a potentially lethal syndrome characterized by disorientation and confusion and autonomic hyperactivity, with profuse sweating, tachycardia, and hypertension. Early withdrawal symptoms do not always precede the onset of DT. Patients with DT require hospitalization, treatment with benzodiazepines and careful monitoring of vital signs and hydration to prevent adverse cardiovascular complications. Familiarity with the syndrome and a calm, reassuring manner are essential in dealing with these patients.
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