Why Do Alcoholics Shake?

by | May 13, 2023 | Addiction, Recovery | 0 comments

Alcoholism is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition affecting millions of people worldwide. One of the most common symptoms of alcoholism is shaking or tremors, which can be very distressing. Understanding why alcoholics shake helps people comprehend the effects of alcohol on the body and the seriousness of alcohol addiction, which can help motivate people to seek treatment.

What Is Alcoholism?

First, it’s important to understand that alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects the brain and body in various ways. The more someone drinks, the more their body becomes dependent on alcohol, and the harder it is to stop drinking. When an alcoholic tries to quit or cut back on their drinking, their body may react in several ways, including shaking and tremors.

Why Do Alcoholics Shake?

  • Alcohol Withdrawal. The shakes and tremors experienced by alcoholics are usually caused by a condition called alcohol withdrawal syndrome, a collection of symptoms that can occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for a long time suddenly stops drinking. During alcohol withdrawal, the body is trying to readjust to functioning without alcohol. When someone drinks heavily and regularly, their body becomes dependent on alcohol to function. However, when they stop drinking, the sudden lack of alcohol can cause the body to go into shock, leading to various withdrawal symptoms, including shaking and tremors.
  • Brain Changes. Alcohol affects the central nervous system, and heavy drinking can cause changes in brain chemistry and function. One effect of alcohol on the brain is to depress the central nervous system, slowing down messages between the brain and body. When someone stops drinking, the sudden lack of alcohol can cause the brain to go into overdrive, leading to excessive electrical activity, which can trigger tremors and shaking.
  • Chemical Imbalances. Shaking and tremors during alcohol withdrawal can also be caused by imbalances in the body’s chemistry. Heavy drinking can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes play a crucial role in regulating nerve impulses throughout the body, including those that control muscle movements. An electrolyte imbalance caused by heavy drinking can disrupt the nervous system’s functioning, leading to uncontrolled muscle movements, including shaking and tremors.
  • Dehydration. Alcohol can also cause dehydration, which can lead to muscle cramps and spasms. When the body is dehydrated, the blood becomes thicker, and the concentration of electrolytes in the blood increases. This increased concentration of electrolytes can cause nerve and muscle cells to become overactive, leading to muscle spasms, cramps, and tremors. Dehydration can also cause a decrease in blood volume, which can affect the brain’s functioning. The brain relies on adequate blood flow to function correctly, and a decrease in blood volume can cause brain cells to become overexcited, leading to tremors and shaking. Additionally, dehydration can cause an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol, which can cause the muscles to tense up and lead to involuntary movements such as shaking and tremors.

What Are The Shakes Like?

The shakes and tremors experienced during alcohol withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. They may feel like a mild or severe shaking or trembling sensation, affecting different parts of the body, including:

  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Head

These symptoms can be accompanied by anxiety, restlessness, and irritability, which can make it challenging to focus on anything else.

How Long Do Alcoholic Shakes Last?

The duration of alcohol shakes and tremors varies depending on the severity of alcohol addiction and the individual’s overall health. In most cases, alcohol shakes and tremors typically begin within 6-48 hours after the last drink and can last for several days to a few weeks.

However, in severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, the shakes and tremors can persist for several weeks or months. In some rare cases, they can be permanent.

Seek medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol shakes and tremors, especially if they are severe or prolonged. Doctors can provide medications to ease the symptoms and monitor the individual’s condition to ensure they are safe and comfortable during the withdrawal.

How Are Alcoholic Shakes Treated?

Alcoholic shakes and tremors are typically treated by addressing the underlying cause, which is alcohol withdrawal. The primary goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and prevent severe complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens.

Medical management of alcoholic shakes and tremors typically involves the use of benzodiazepines, a sedative medication that helps calm nerves and reduce muscle spasms. Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam or lorazepam, are usually administered in a tapering dose over several days to help prevent seizures and other complications of alcohol withdrawal.

In addition to medication, supportive care is also crucial for the treatment of alcoholic shakes and tremors. This includes:

  • Proper hydration
  • Nutrition
  • High-quality rest

Say Goodbye To Alcohol Shakes For Good

The shakes and tremors experienced by alcoholics are often caused by alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for a long time suddenly stops. These symptoms can be very uncomfortable and can make it challenging to perform everyday tasks. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s essential to seek help from a professional who can provide the appropriate treatment and support. Remember, alcoholism is a chronic disease, but recovery is possible with the right help and support.

Let us help you get there. Contact us today if you’re ready to say goodbye to alcohol shakes for good.