Delirium occurs in 35% to 80% of critically ill hospitalized patients. Little is known of delirium prevention and treatment in the critical care setting. Trials emphasizing early mobilization suggest that this nonpharmacologic approach is associated with improved outcome as well as ''delirium days.'' Titration and reduction of opiate analgesics and sedatives may improve subsyndromal delirium rates. All critical care caregivers should rigorously screen for alcohol abuse, apply alcohol withdrawal scales in alcoholic patients, and titrate sedative drugs. No nonpharmacologic approach or drug has been shown to be beneficial once delirium is established. Considering the importance and the consequences of delirium in the critical care setting, addiction studies are urgently needed. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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