Addiction is a disease that brings with it many consequences. It can change every aspect of your life – it can leave you unemployed, destroy relationships and cause long-term health problems.

The scary thing about alcoholism is that it can sneak up on a person and be hard to identify. One trait of an alcoholic is shaking, otherwise known as alcohol tremors.

If you are worried about your drinking and suffering from shakes, then it may be a sign of bigger problems that require a trip to alcohol rehab. For your peace of mind and health, it’s important to know, “Why do alcoholics shake?”, the long-term effects of alcohol on your body and what can be done to help you.


Understanding Shaking in Alcoholics

Alcohol shakes are when a person experiences uncontrollable tremors in their body, usually in the hands and fingers. Alcohol tremors can occur intermittently or be constant. They can be barely noticeable or so severe they disrupt your life.

These types of tremors are usually a clear sign of addiction due to being an obvious symptom of withdrawal. This can lead to shaking because alcohol is a depressant, affecting the central nervous system. As you drink more, your body gets used to and expects alcohol – slowing down everything. If you stop drinking and the effects of alcohol wear off, your body becomes overwhelmed, the messages in your brain getting disrupted and sending the wrong messages to the nerves in your hands and fingers.

Long-term alcohol abuse can cause shaking as alcohol will eventually have a serious effect on brain function, affecting coordination and motor functions.


The Connection Between Alcohol Withdrawal and Shaking

Alcohol tremors are just a small part of a wider problem called alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome comes into effect when you stop drinking and can bring on a vast array of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms. They include:

Physical Symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Raised pulse

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased agitation
  • Restlessness

Behavioural Symptoms:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • Lethargy
  • Social withdrawal

Delirium Tremens

Alcohol tremors can be a symptom of the DTs. This is a severe withdrawal symptom that can be fatal if not dealt with. The DTs can happen when you drink heavily and then suddenly stop, leaving your body unable to cope. Tremors may lead to seizures, hallucinations and confusion that can develop quickly into a fatal situation.

As said above, shaking happens as your body reacts to the absence of alcohol. Drinking regularly changes how the neurotransmitters work in your brain, most commonly Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid (GABA), which makes you feel more at ease and glutamate. When you stop drinking, an imbalance in these brain chemicals occurs, leading to withdrawal symptoms such as alcohol tremors.


Long-Term Alcohol Abuse and Its Effects on the Body

Whilst alcoholism most commonly hits your liver the hardest, long-term abuse can have a lasting impact on your brain. Alongside shaking, severe drinking can lead to memory loss, confusion, coordination issues and blackouts.

These short-term issues can become more permanent.

Alcohol being present in the body will result in lost vitamins, leading to brain damage. This can bring about life-threatening conditions such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a neurological disease of which persistent shaking is a symptom.

Alcoholic neuropathy can occur – damage to the nerves which leads to spasms, tremors, impaired speech and bowel problems.

Cerebellar degeneration involves the deterioration of your coordination and balance. Alcohol can worsen this condition, resulting in slurred speech, unsteady walking and tremors in the arms and legs.


Medical intervention can help treat your alcohol tremors and lead you onto the path of long-term recovery. These methods will help with the physical aspect of addiction (getting through withdrawal) but to deal with the psychological side of addiction, more treatment is needed.


Alcohol detox is the process of purging your body of alcohol and the harmful toxins it contains. You do this by deliberately stopping your alcohol intake. As explored above, doing this will bring on withdrawal symptoms that can include worsening tremors.

Rehab centres, like Asana Lodge, offer dedicated detox programmes to help you through this process. During this time, you would likely be under 24/7 medical supervision and be within an environment that is meant to ease your distress. Nutritional meals are provided to encourage the healing processes in your body and medication may be administered to ease the worst of withdrawal symptoms.


There are prescribed medications that can help ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including shaking. A GP may prescribe benzodiazepines such as oxazepam, diazepam, lorazepam. These are sedative drugs that work on the central nervous system, depressing it to relax the body. Benzos themselves can be addictive so it is important to only use these under a medical professional’s guidance.

Another option is the drug baclofen. This is a muscle relaxant which affects the central nervous system. Taking baclofen with alcohol can result in severe side effects, including worsening your addiction.


The Importance of Professional Help in Recovery

Recovery from alcohol abuse can be a long, hard journey that many people struggle to complete. Those who succeed do so because they do not attempt the journey alone.

As stated above, making use of professional treatment and medication requires caution and the support of professionals. It’s important to understand that any serious attempt at rehabilitation should be done with professional help. Asana Lodge is staffed by medical professionals, familiar with all aspects of addiction and who can provide you with the tools to manage symptoms.


No treatment for alcoholism will be effective without addiction therapy. CBT and group therapy sessions are vital to dealing with the psychological reasons behind your addiction. Through these sessions, you can learn how to change your destructive patterns and equip yourself with coping methods that will help you in the future.


Even after rehab is completed, professional supervision can still be accessed. Asana Lodge offers an aftercare programme to help you through that difficult first year of sobriety. You will have access to support meetings, guided by professionals, to keep you connected to others and feel supported.


Get Support Today

Shaking after or during drinking may not seem serious but can point towards a more severe issue with alcohol. If you are worried about your alcohol shakes or want to know more about alcohol treatment then get in touch with Asana Lodge today.

Asana Lodge is a private drug and alcohol rehab that can help you begin your recovery from alcohol abuse. Call us today at 01908 489 421.

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