Are Tremors a Sign Of Alcoholism? Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction

Compare Rehab UK | Are Tremors a Sign Of Alcoholism? Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol shakes, commonly referred to as “alcohol tremors,” may be part of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal in which the area of the brain in charge of controlling your muscles responds to the alcohol leaving your body.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol addiction, sometimes referred to as dependency, is a mental and physical condition characterised by irrational cravings for alcohol despite its negative effects on one’s relationships, finances, and general well-being. Since alcoholism disrupts how the brain functions and makes it difficult for a person to maintain control over their urges, it can be damaging to their ability to fulfil their daily commitments.

Alcoholism, commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a general term that describes any alcohol use that leads to behavioural, mental, or physical issues. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency are two subtypes of alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is characterised by high-risk behaviour. An uncontrollable physical or mental desire for alcohol is referred to as alcoholism. You are likely to have an increased tolerance if you have any type of alcoholism, and you may experience very bad withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking.

What Are Tremors?

A tremor is an irregular, rhythmic muscular contraction that causes the affected area(s) of the body to shake. Tremors often cause fast shaking motions that come in six to ten-second intervals. They result from an issue with the area of the brain that manages the muscles in the body caused by acute alcohol withdrawal or excessive alcohol use.

Depending on the strength of their addiction, a person’s tremors may not appear for some time. Tremors and other withdrawal symptoms could start six hours after the last drink for people with severe alcoholism.

Tremors can also be a symptom of antidepressant addiction.

Types of Tremors

Resting (static) tremor: This happens when the body is at rest and the movement stops.

Intention (kinetic) tremor: This starts when the damaged body part is in motion and ends when it is at rest.

Postural (action) tremor: This happens when a body portion exerts a force against gravity, such as when lifting something.

Diagnosis and Symptoms of the Various Types of Tremors

The following signs can be used to identify different tremors or shakes:

  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may start 6 hours after the last drink (or reduction in drinking) or earlier, depending on how severe the withdrawal syndrome is. Typically, withdrawal symptoms reach their height within 24 to 72 hours and might linger for many weeks.
  • More than 20 different tremor kinds can be categorised, with appearance and source being the most common methods. Cerebellar tremor and increased physiologic tremor are two types of tremors that may be caused by excessive alcohol use or alcohol withdrawal.
  • Tremors can include rhythmic body shaking (usually in the hands), difficulty writing or drawing, a trembling voice, or issues grasping and using utensils.
  • Tremors can also be a sign of delirium tremens (DTs), a more severe form of alcohol withdrawal that is thought to affect fewer than 5% of people going through alcohol withdrawal.
  • An individual’s medical history, physical exam, and neurological examination are also used to diagnose tremors.

Why do I get the shakes after drinking alcohol?

Tremors do not simply appear as a result of alcohol use -they are a symptom of alcoholism. As an alcoholic or as someone going through alcohol withdrawal, you may very probably experience them. The occasional alcoholic beverage will not cause tremors unless there is an underlying disease for which tremors are a symptom.

Alcohol slows down a portion of the brain and messes with the hormones that control mood. This implies that binge drinking (or regular drinking) acclimates the brain to fewer stimuli. Heavy drinkers’ nerve systems become hyperactive as the alcohol leaves their bodies, and they may have alcohol tremors or shakes as a result. The shakes can happen as quickly as eight hours after your last drink.

You can be abusing alcohol in different ways, even if you don’t think of yourself as an alcoholic, even if you only drink for fun. The tremors may also result from this. Binge drinking, often known as consuming a lot of alcohol at once, can cause “hangover tremors.” Depending on how much you’ve had, you can feel your hands trembling or your entire body.

It may indicate physical alcohol dependence or alcoholism if you are suffering alcohol shakes and other withdrawal symptoms. When one’s body is so accustomed to having alcohol in it, cutting back on consumption will frequently result in shaking after drinking.

Symptoms of alcoholism contributing to alcohol tremors

You might need medical attention if you exhibit three or more of the following signs of alcohol dependence:

  • A strong, sometimes compulsive need or desire to consume alcohol.
  • Difficulty in managing the amount taken.
  • Signs of withdrawal as listed below.
  • Evidence of tolerance implies you require larger alcohol doses to get the same impact that was first brought on by lower alcohol doses.
  • Neglecting other pursuits and investing more time in getting or consuming alcohol or dealing with its after-effects.
  • Consuming alcohol despite evident negative effects, such as liver issues, depression, or memory issues.

When you are addicted to alcohol, it’s crucial to cut back on your use and stop it altogether in a safe and regulated way. It is always advised that you seek medical guidance and support because some withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even fatal.

Alcohol shakes and other signs of alcohol withdrawal?

The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person and can be influenced by things like how much alcohol you have consumed and how quickly you stop or reduce your intake.

Alcohol shakes may be a sign that you need to stop drinking more gradually and carefully, with medical assistance to speed your recovery.

Physical signs of alcohol withdrawal include the following (in addition to shaking and trembling):

The following are psychological signs of alcohol withdrawal:

Will I Experience Symptoms of Withdrawal?

It is impossible to predict in advance whether a person may have withdrawal symptoms when they decide to stop drinking alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can range from moderate to severe depending on the degree of physical dependence, and they frequently appear 6 to 48 hours after the last drink or when drinking is reduced.

Delirium tremens (DT), when it manifests, often start between 48 and 72 hours after the onset and can be fatal. In most cases, symptoms peak between 24 and 72 hours after they start. Some people may experience alcohol withdrawal seizures, which usually begin 6 to 48 hours after stopping or cutting back on drinking. Changes in mental state and stimulation of the autonomic nervous system are hallmarks of the neurologic illness known as DTs.

DTs are believed to occur in fewer than 5% of people going through alcohol withdrawal. The likelihood of developing DTs may be raised by a history of seizures, previous DT episodes, concomitant conditions, prior detoxification, and a long interval since the last drink. Symptoms of delirium tremens can include fever, trembling of the body, extreme confusion, agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and perspiration.

Seek emergency medical attention if you believe you or another person may be going through withdrawal.

Alcohol shakes vs delirium tremens

The signs of alcohol withdrawal can be very diverse. Delirium tremens is a very severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can occasionally be deadly, result in seizures, and create other health problems. After a period of intense drinking, it is typically brought on by drastically cutting back on or discontinuing all alcohol consumption. This dangerous condition begins with tremors, sleeplessness, and occasionally convulsions. After that, you can experience hazy consciousness, be disoriented and confused, have vivid hallucinations, and have uncontrollable alcohol tremors. A person with delirium tremens needs rapid medical attention because it can progress extremely quickly.

Some individuals who experience alcohol withdrawal also experience psychosis, which can include paranoia, pathological jealousy, or even persistent auditory hallucinations. These symptoms require medical attention. Chronic alcohol consumption can also cause memory issues that need medical attention.

Alcohol tremors may be a sign of impending delirium tremens. It is usually advised that alcohol withdrawal occurs as part of a medically assisted withdrawal detoxification procedure because this allows for the provision of the appropriate care and support as required.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Detox and Rehabilitation

Once abstinence is established, you can continue administration with a variety of medications to aid in maintaining future abstinence from alcohol in addition to those that lessen or avoid withdrawal symptoms. A medically assisted alcohol detox, when medical professionals surround you, can help to lessen and control symptoms even if you don’t have delirium tremens. You might also be offered prescription medicine to aid you, depending on the type and severity of your alcohol withdrawal.

When you check into an alcohol rehab facility, you stay at one of the facilities for the duration of your detoxification, which usually takes between seven and ten days. You also have the option to participate in an addiction treatment programme during this time, which includes both individual and group addiction therapy. This will enable you to identify the causes of your addictive behaviours and learn coping mechanisms that will support your abstinence. The therapy also helps to discover and address any mental health disorder that may contribute to the development of alcohol abuse.

By carefully managing the detoxification and rehabilitation processes, you may ensure that you are adequately prepared for a life without alcohol.

Last Edited: September 19th, 2022
Clinically Reviewed: July 5, 2022
Compare Rehab UK | Are Tremors a Sign Of Alcoholism? Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction
Clinical Reviewer


BACP accredited psychotherapist with 16 years experience working in mental health specialising in psychodynamic person-centred therapies treating those with a range of mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, OCD and Addiction.