In some old films, characters who had alcohol problems were sometimes portrayed as needing a drink to steady themselves and stop their hands from shaking. Unfortunately, alcohol shakes and tremors aren’t merely a movie trope. They are signs that a person’s body has been damaged by alcohol abuse.
What are Alcohol Shakes and Tremors?
Tics, tremors, and shakes as a result of alcohol abuse typically occur in one of the following two circumstances:
- As a “hangover” symptom following an episode of binge drinking.
- As a withdrawal symptom among people who have developed an acute alcohol use disorder (alcoholism).
In both of these cases, alcohol shakes are evidence of the negative impact that alcohol can have on a person’s central nervous system (CNS).
Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol Shakes and Alcoholism
If you’ve begun to have alcohol shakes after you drink, you may be concerned about what this symptom might mean. In the subsections below you will find the answers to six common questions about tremors and shakiness in the aftermath of drinking.
Why Does Drinking Alcohol Give Me The Shakes?
As we alluded to earlier in this post, alcohol shakes are a withdrawal symptom. When you drink, alcohol interacts with receptors in the central nervous system that are associated with a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (which, thankfully, is usually referred to as GABA).
An influx of alcohol can lead to diminished GABA levels. When your body metabolizes and eliminates the alcohol from your system, this can result in a temporary imbalance between GABA (which has a calming effect) and another neurotransmitter called glutamate (which has an excitatory effect). The impact of this imbalance can include shakiness.
Am I an Alcoholic if I Have the Shakes?
Alcohol shakes can be a sign that you’re an alcoholic – but they aren’t conclusive proof that you have become addicted to this drug.
Here’s what we mean by that: Let’s say you rarely drink, and when you do, you typically only have one or two drinks. But one night, you overdo it. The morning after your episode of binge drinking, you may have a variety of distressing symptoms, such as a headache, nausea, and alcohol shakes.
Do these symptoms mean that you ingested a dangerous amount of alcohol? Yes. Do they mean that you are an alcoholic? In this specific case, no.
If, on the other hand, you regularly abuse alcohol, you frequently have alcohol shakiness, and you’re unable to control your compulsive drinking, then these tremors could be one of the signs that you have drinking problem.
Alcohol abuse is a behavior. Addiction to alcohol (alcoholism) is a disease. Alcohol tremors can be both an effect of alcohol abuse and a symptom of alcohol addiction.
How Long Do Alcohol Shakes Last?
The duration of alcohol shakes can be influenced by many factors, including how much and how long you’ve been drinking. If you experience minor shakiness in the aftermath of a drinking binge, this symptom should dissipate in a few hours. If you develop alcohol tremors while you are going through withdrawal, they may last for a few days.
How Can I Stop the Alcohol Shakes?
If you have experienced the alcohol shakes in the aftermath of a binge drinking episode, the best way to ensure that this doesn’t happen again is to quit drinking. If you experience severe alcohol shakes while you are trying to quit drinking, the best way to stop (or at least minimize) them is to enter a medical detoxification program.
As we will discuss a bit later in this post, the benefits of medical detox can include easing the intensity of alcohol tremors and other distressing withdrawal symptoms.
Are Alcohol Shakes Permanent?
In most cases, alcohol shakes are not permanent. If you develop persistent tremors that continue long after you have stopped drinking, a neurological condition or another medical problem may be to blame.
Continued tics, frequent tremors, or other types of ongoing shakiness should never be ignored. To determine what is causing them (and what can be done to stop them), you should consult with your primary doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.
What are the Dangers of Having the Shakes?
Perhaps the greatest danger of alcohol shakes is that they may indicate you have a severe case of alcohol addiction, and you could be at risk for a set of serious withdrawal symptoms that are known as delirium tremens, or the DTs.
Experts estimate that, without proper treatment, three of every 10 people who developed the DTs would die. Thankfully, the mortality rate of the DTs is reduced significantly when people receive effective medical care.
How Medical Detox Helps Alcohol Withdrawal Shakes
Medical detoxification, or detox, is a short-term program that can help people get through alcohol withdrawal as safely and painlessly as possible. The benefits of medical detox include receiving prescription medications to ease symptoms such as alcohol shakes.
When someone tries to get through alcohol withdrawal on their own, the intensity of their symptoms can quickly become overwhelming, and push them back into active alcohol abuse. In a detox program, patients are in a highly supervised environment where they have no access to alcohol, which eliminates this relapse risk.
In a detox program, patients can also receive therapeutic support to help them manage the cravings and other symptoms that are not alleviated by medication.
Contact Our Medical Detox Facility for Alcohol Addiction in Los Angeles, California
The dangers of alcohol withdrawal can unfortunately prevent people from ending their abuse of this destructive drug. But when you begin your recovery journey at Los Angeles Detox, you can take this important step in a safe environment, under the care of a team of dedicated professionals. With our help, you can successfully complete alcohol withdrawal, and then transition directly into the next phase of your treatment.
To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free alcohol addiction assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.