Alcohol shakes are not incredibly uncommon. They can occur for a variety of reasons. In some cases, it can be a sign of dependence. This following information can help you determine if what you are experiencing is withdrawals, or something else. If you are experiencing an emergency, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.
Alcohol shakes, also known as alcohol tremors or withdrawal tremors, are involuntary rhythmic movements of the body that occur when individuals who have developed an alcohol dependence abruptly stop or significantly reduce their alcohol intake. These tremors typically manifest in the hands but can also affect other parts of the body, such as the arms, legs, or even the entire body.
The onset and severity of alcohol shakes can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience barely noticeable, mild tremors, while others may experience more severe and uncontrollable shaking. These shakes can range in frequency and intensity, with some individuals experiencing constant tremors and others experiencing periodic episodes.
Alcohol shakes can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and may make it difficult for individuals to carry out daily activities, work, or engage in social interactions. Therefore, understanding the causes and symptoms of alcohol shakes is crucial in order to seek appropriate treatment programs and support for recovery. At Magnolia City, we provide detox programs in Houston, Texas for those needing to stop substance use to begin their road to recovery.
Alcohol shakes, also known as tremors, can be a sign of alcohol dependence. Tremors are one of the early withdrawal symptoms experienced by individuals who are dependent on alcohol. They can be caused by several factors, including:
The most common cause of alcohol shakes is alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which occurs when the brain and body become accustomed to regular alcohol consumption and then abruptly reduce or discontinue alcohol consumption. Along with tremors, individuals experiencing withdrawal may also experience symptoms such as sweating, nausea, insomnia, and even seizures in severe cases.
During prolonged and heavy alcohol use, the body becomes dependent on alcohol to function properly. Alcohol affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate, which regulate the balance between excitement and inhibition. Chronic alcohol use suppresses the activity of glutamate and enhances the activity of GABA, leading to a sedative effect on the brain.
When alcohol intake is abruptly decreased or stopped, the balance between GABA and glutamate is disrupted, causing the brain to become hyperexcitable. This hyperexcitability results in the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms, including alcohol shakes.
It is important to note that alcohol shakes are not only a result of withdrawal, but they can also be indicative of a more serious condition known as delirium tremens (DTs). DTs occur in a small percentage of individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal and are characterized by severe and life-threatening tremors, hallucinations, confusion, and autonomic instability. If someone experiences severe alcohol shakes accompanied by these symptoms, immediate medical attention should be sought.
It’s important to note that alcohol shakes are not only seen in individuals with alcohol use disorders but can also occur in some cases of acute alcohol intoxication. If someone is experiencing alcohol shakes or other withdrawal symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention, as severe alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Medical professionals can provide appropriate treatment and support to manage withdrawal symptoms safely.
Alcohol shakes typically manifest within 6 to 48 hours after an individual’s last alcoholic beverage. Some of the physical symptoms associated with this condition include:
The most obvious sign of alcohol shakes is the involuntary trembling or shaking of the body. This is often most noticeable in the hands, but it can also affect other body parts such as the arms, legs, or jaw. The shaking may vary in intensity, ranging from mild tremors to more pronounced shaking.
Individuals experiencing alcohol shakes may also exhibit excessive sweating and clamminess. This is a result of the body’s response to the withdrawal of alcohol as it tries to regulate its temperature. Sweating and clamminess can be particularly noticeable in the palms of the hands.
Another sign of alcohol shakes is an elevated heart rate. As the body reacts to the absence of alcohol, the heart may beat faster than usual. This can cause individuals to feel an increased awareness of their heartbeat or experience palpitations.
During alcohol withdrawal, some individuals may experience gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are a result of the body’s reaction to suddenly stopping or reducing alcohol consumption after a period of heavy and prolonged use.
Alcohol withdrawal can be a challenging and potentially dangerous process. For some people, these symptoms may be relatively manageable, while for others, they can be more severe and require medical intervention. Always consult with medical professionals to receive appropriate support and care, including medications to help manage symptoms and prevent complications.
While alcohol shakes primarily manifest as physical symptoms, they can also have significant psychological effects on individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal. The abrupt reduction or cessation of alcohol intake can lead to various psychological symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s mental well-being.
Alcohol withdrawal often triggers feelings of anxiety and restlessness. Individuals may experience an overwhelming sense of unease, irritability, and an inability to relax. These psychological symptoms can be distressing and may contribute to further cravings for alcohol as a means of alleviating the discomfort. Anxiety and addiction is a difficult dual diagnosis to deal with. At Magnolia City, we offer an anxiety and addiction treatment program that treats both co-occurring disorders.
Alcohol shakes are often accompanied by episodes of depression and mood swings. Individuals may feel a persistent sense of sadness, hopelessness, or despair. They may also experience frequent mood fluctuations, shifting between extreme highs and lows. These psychological symptoms can interfere with a person’s ability to function in their daily life and may contribute to a worsening of their overall mental health.
Difficulty sleeping without alcohol or other substances, insomnia, and other sleep disturbances are common psychological effects of alcohol shakes. Individuals may struggle to fall asleep or maintain a regular sleep pattern. This can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, and the further exacerbation of other psychological symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal can impair cognitive function, making it challenging for individuals to concentrate, think clearly, and make decisions. This can impact their ability to perform tasks at work or school, leading to a decline in overall productivity and performance.
If you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol shakes, it is crucial to seek help promptly. This will ensure that the withdrawal process is managed safely and effectively. Here are some approaches to consider:
Medications may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including alcohol shakes. These medications can help reduce the intensity of the shakes and alleviate other withdrawal symptoms. They should only be taken under the supervision of a medical professional.
Therapy can play a vital role in addressing the underlying causes of alcohol dependence and providing coping strategies for recovery. Individual counseling, group therapy, and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the recovery process.
Some individuals find benefit from holistic approaches to managing alcohol shakes and overcoming alcohol dependence. These can include practices such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and acupuncture. It is important to remember that these approaches should be used in conjunction with professional medical and therapeutic support.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, and peers who understand and support your recovery goals can greatly enhance your chances of success. They can offer emotional support, accountability, and encouragement during difficult times.
Remember, recovery is a journey, and seeking help for alcohol shakes is a crucial step toward long-term sobriety. There is no shame in asking for assistance, and the right support can make a significant difference in your recovery.
Magnolia City Detox is a specialized facility providing a diverse range of services geared towards guiding individuals through alcohol detoxification and skillfully managing the symptoms associated with alcohol shakes. We are committed to offering extensive support and treatment to individuals battling alcohol addiction. Take the first step towards a healthier and happier life by exploring our programs. Contact us today to embark on your journey toward recovery.
Dr. Olaniyi O. Osuntokun is a Neurology & Psychiatry Specialist based in Conroe, Texas, and Lafayette, Indiana. He has extensive experience in treating Individuals with substance use disorders and addiction. He earned his medical degree from University of Ibadan College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.