This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
For the excitement, wakefulness, fright, and tremor which follow the abuse of alcohol, and which commonly precede a fully developed attack of delirium, large doses of bromide often prove of great use, either with or without opium. I have known them prevent the further development of the attack; in later stages they have not the same power, but bromides have acted well combined with chloral. To this statement I must, however, add a caution as to the use of full doses of the latter remedy in delirium tremens, for I am cognizant of more than one case of sudden death traceable to it, in all probability.
Gubler has written specially on the value of bromides in amblyopia and alcoholic amaurosis.
Night-terrors - "Nightmare." - Children especially are liable to attacks of terror in the night, when they awake screaming, and are so deeply impressed by some imagination or dream, that they are, at first, scarcely conscious. This condition is connected with a reflex irritation of the nervous system, and is much under the control of a night-dose of bromide. The nightmare of adults may also be relieved by it; aperients should not be neglected in such cases.
When the symptoms are violent and acute, with flushing and heat of head, full pulse, and much restlessness, a cold pack, or, if possible, a douche, or at least an ice-bag or cold compresses to the head, may be very useful in procuring quiet, and even sleep. When much depression or evidence of vascular degeneration exists, such treatment must be employed with extra care.
Though antimony is seldom now prescribed for this condition, the good results obtained from it, by Dr. Peddie especially, require some notice. He speaks of uniform success in upward of eighty cases, treated mainly by 1/2 to 1/4-gr. doses, given every two hours until improvement set in; emetic action was not marked, but occurred to some extent with the early doses: secretion from the kidneys and the skin was increased, but he attributed the benefit rather to a sedative effect on the nervous system and the lowering of vascular excitement (Edinburgh Monthly Journal, 1854). In America and in Germany, larger doses have been successfully used - Schroff, for instance, giving 4 to 6 gr. daily, and others the same dose every hour. The practice, however, is dangerous, because in this malady the circulation fails so readily, and Dr. Anstie has pointed out that antimonial treatment, though certainly successful in some cases, has ended unfortunately in others ("Reynolds' System," ii., p. 92). I have found its moderate use valuable in young robust men, especially in the first attack, and even when much gastric derangement was present: it is not so suitable for old or debauched subjects.