What are Alcohol Tremors and What Should You Do About Them?

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What are Alcohol Tremors

Imagine you wake up in the morning after a night of drinking and notice your hands are a little shaky. Is that a sign of a normal hangover–or is it a sign of a bigger problem?

It’s common for people to experience shaking in the hands, fingers, and other parts of the body after a period of heavy drinking. In fact, people often refer to this feeling as “alcohol tremors” or “hangover shakes.”

But what does this mean for your health? In this article, we will explore why you may feel a little shaky after drinking. You’ll also learn about signs of alcohol abuse and addiction and where to find treatment.

Reach out to the Archstone Behavioral Health team to learn more about alcohol abuse or to find treatment. You may contact our specialists with questions or to schedule an intake assessment.

Alcohol Shakes: What Are They and Why Do They Happen?

The shaky feeling in your hands after heavy drinking may be more than a hangover. It could be a form of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol use can change how your body and brain function. Your body responds to the side effects of alcohol by increasing activity in the central nervous system.

If you drink a lot, your body keeps your CNS activity at a heightened state. If you suddenly stop drinking, you may experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol may include:

  • Tremors in the hands or other areas of the body
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (low energy levels)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety

If you notice signs of alcohol withdrawal, you may need the support of an alcohol addiction treatment program to detox safely.

An alcohol detox program provides medical supervision, emotional support, and holistic therapies to provide comfort. A detox program can help you avoid life-threatening complications during detox, including seizures and dehydration.

After completing detox, you must continue treatment to learn how to avoid relapse.

How Long Do Alcohol Tremors Last?

The length of alcohol shakes differs among individuals. Various factors influence this duration, such as the severity of alcohol dependence for the individual experiencing the shakes.

Tremors can onset within 5-10 hours after the last drink. This explains why individuals who frequently consume substantial amounts of alcohol may wake up experiencing tremors and feel the need to drink to regain stability. Typically, tremors reach their peak between 24 to 78 hours after the last drink, but they may persist for several weeks or even longer.

How to Stop Alcohol Shakes

If shaking persists or becomes severe, it’s important to seek medical attention. In severe cases, tremors can be a sign that seizures may come later.

If shaking is minor, there are ways you can cope:

  • Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins from the body and prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate tremors.
  • Consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly B vitamins, to support nervous system function and overall health.
  • Certain medications may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to alleviate symptoms or manage withdrawal.
  • Get plenty of rest to allow your body to recover and reduce stress, which can worsen tremors.
  • Seek support from friends, family, or support groups to help you through the process of quitting alcohol and managing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Consider seeking professional medical assistance, such as a detox program or counseling, for personalized support and guidance in overcoming alcohol dependence.

What is the Difference Between Alcohol Shakes and Delirium Tremens?

Alcohol shakes, also known as alcohol withdrawal tremors, are a common symptom experienced during alcohol withdrawal. These tremors typically manifest as uncontrollable shaking of the hands, limbs, or other parts of the body.

Alcohol shakes can occur within hours to days after reducing or stopping alcohol consumption and are often accompanied by other withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, and insomnia. While uncomfortable, alcohol shakes are usually not life-threatening on their own and can be managed with proper care and treatment.

Delirium tremens, however, is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome characterized by sudden and severe changes in mental status, including confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, and agitation. DTs typically occur 48 to 72 hours after the last drink and can be life-threatening if left untreated.

While alcohol shakes are fairly common, only 5-10% of heavy drinkers experience DTs.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

Many of us live in a culture where alcohol use is common. When you go to social events or family gatherings, you are likely to have access to alcohol.

In a country where drinking is widely available in many settings, it can be hard to tell when your drinking has crossed the line into a problematic habit.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people who choose to drink alcohol should only drink in moderation. But what does this mean, exactly?

The CDC defines moderate drinking as:

  • One or fewer alcoholic drinks per day for women
  • Two or fewer alcoholic drinks per day for men

A “drink” isn’t any drink containing alcohol. Instead, it is a clearly defined measurement. A “drink” means:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor

Standard alcoholic beverages you find at restaurants or pour at home may contain more than one “drink.”

For example, a large glass of wine from a restaurant may have 1.5-2 (or more) servings of alcohol and would count as more than one “drink.” Similarly, a standard pint of beer (16 ounces) would count as more than one “drink” according to the CDC’s standards.

The CDC defines heavy drinking as:

  • Eight or more drinks per week for women
  • 15 or more drinks per week for men

Heavy drinking is associated with health complications, including a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, liver disease, certain cancers, and addiction.

Recognizing Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Alcohol abuse is common in the United States. Many people drink more than the CDC recommends. This can lead to short and long-term complications for your physical and mental health.

Recognizing alcohol abuse and addiction may be challenging. Drinking is widely accepted, and alcohol is readily available in many settings. How can you recognize alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse can change the way you look, feel, and behave. Some of the signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drinking more than you planned to
  • Needing to drink more to feel “buzzed”
  • Being able to drink a lot without appearing intoxicated
  • Doing dangerous things while drinking, such as driving under the influence or having risky sex
  • Having medical, social, legal, or financial trouble related to your drinking
  • Neglecting your responsibilities, hobbies, or relationships because of your drinking
  • Isolating or only spending time with others while drinking
  • Continuing to drink, despite experiencing harm from it
  • Having withdrawal symptoms, including tremors, if you stop drinking

Alcohol abuse can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Heavy drinkers may develop an addiction to alcohol that requires professional treatment.

Find Treatment Now

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, you must seek treatment. Contact the Archstone Behavioral Health specialists to learn about our supportive alcoholism treatment programs. You may also verify your insurance, ask questions, or schedule an intake assessment.