alcohol shakes

Are Alcohol Shakes Normal?

by Pat Fontana

When you stop drinking, if only for a few hours, you might experience trembling along with other side effects. This trembling is known as alcohol shakes and usually occurs in the hands. If you are addicted to alcohol, you might think that alcohol shakes are a normal part of your routine and will end when you are able to get your next drink. However, alcohol shakes are a dangerous sign of serious health issues.

Why You Have Alcohol Shakes

You may drink because you think it helps relieve your stress and anxiety so you can relax a bit. You feel this way because alcohol increases the effects of a neurotransmitter known as GABA, which is responsible for creating feelings of calm and euphoria. Alcohol also decreases another neurotransmitter, glutamate, that creates excitability.

The more you drink, the more difficult it is to increase the GABA and decrease the glutamate, as your body becomes accustomed to the changes and responds by producing less GABA and more glutamate. So, when you do stop drinking, you are no longer feeding your body the alcohol that impacts these neurotransmitters. However, your body is still overproducing glutamate and underproducing GABA, so you then become hyperexcited. You may become restless, anxious, and shaky.

Alcohol shakes, which typically occur in the hands, are not normal. They are a sign that you probably have a substance use disorder, as your body has become addicted. Shakes usually begin with 5 to 10 hours after your last drink and can peak at 24 to 48 hours, and are then accompanied by other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol shakes are one of the first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. You may also experience an increase in blood pressure, sweating, rapid breathing, nausea and vomiting, a rapid pulse, and irritability. The pattern of withdrawal symptoms then typically continues with:

  • Hallucinations. You may notice these within 12 to 24 hours after your last drink, and they may last as long as 2 days. When you hallucinate, you see or feel things that are not real, which can be dangerous. You may see multiple small, similar, moving objects or you may think you see crawling insects or falling coins.
  • Seizures. You may begin to experience seizures as soon as 6 to 48 hours after your last drink. It is common for several seizures to occur over several hours.
  • Delirium tremens. Known as the DTs, this condition causes dangerous changes in your breathing as well as your circulation and temperature control. You may experience DTs two to three days after your last alcohol drink, but the symptoms could be delayed more than a week.

Trying to Get Rid of Alcohol Shakes Yourself

If you experience alcohol shakes, you are on the path to these dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It is not wise to try to get rid of alcohol shakes on your own, as they could lead to more serious mental and physical health issues.

Unfortunately, you will find a lot of advice on how to get rid of alcohol shakes, including rehydrating, taking vitamins or herb supplements, and eating a well-balanced diet. In reality, though, you need professional supervision to manage all of your withdrawal symptoms, as they could be life threatening if not handled appropriately.

The Need for Professional Detox

Your alcohol shakes are a sign that you may be addicted. Treating your addiction is important to understand the underlying causes and to restore your mental and physical health. Professional addiction treatment starts with detoxification, to remove the alcohol completely and safely from your system. If you try to quit “cold turkey,” it could result in serious side effects.

Additional treatment for your alcohol addiction may include therapy, both individual and group sessions, so you can identify the harmful patterns of behavior and thought processes that have led to your addiction. Support groups after treatment can help you maintain your sobriety for a successful recovery from your addiction.

Contact South Miami Recovery for Help Now

Do not try to stop the alcohol shakes on your own. For your mental and physical health, turn to the professionals at South Miami Recovery for help overcoming your addiction to alcohol or drugs. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a safer and healthier life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

Telehealth is now offered for all our services. South Miami Recovery will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.
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