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How To Stop Alcohol Shakes & Tremors

Last Updated: December 7, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Alcohol shakes and tremors are common and challenging symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, often causing discomfort and concern for those experiencing them. These involuntary movements can be a sign that the body is reacting to the absence of alcohol after a period of heavy drinking. It is crucial to understand that you’re not alone in this struggle. With early intervention and the right support, managing and eventually overcoming these shakes during detox is possible, paving the way to a healthier, alcohol-free life.

What Are Alcohol Shakes?

Alcohol shakes, also called tremors, are involuntary shaking movements that commonly occur in people undergoing withdrawal from alcohol. These shakes can range from mild to severe and are often most noticeable in the hands. They are a physical manifestation of the body’s dependence on alcohol. When someone who has been drinking heavily stops consuming alcohol, their body, which has adjusted to the presence of alcohol, suddenly finds itself out of balance, leading to these tremors.

These shakes are not only limited to your hands; they can affect different parts of the body and are particularly noticeable during periods of withdrawal or even after excessive alcohol consumption. The severity of the shakes often varies based on the level of alcohol dependency and the amount of alcohol regularly consumed.

Why Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Occur?

The root cause of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including shakes, lies in alcohol’s depressant effect on the brain. Regular consumption of alcohol slows down brain activity, and over time, the brain adjusts to this depressant effect by becoming hyperactive. When alcohol is suddenly removed, the brain remains in a hyperactive state until it can readjust to the absence of alcohol, leading to withdrawal symptoms that last until the brain has readjusted.

Several factors influence the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms. These include the duration and intensity of alcohol use, genetic factors, the use of other medications, your overall health and the presence of co-occurring mental health conditions. Understanding these factors is key to addressing the root cause of the shakes and developing an effective treatment plan.

How Long Do Alcohol Shakes Last?

The duration of alcohol shakes can vary from person to person and is influenced by factors such as the severity of alcohol dependency and individual health conditions. The shakes will, however, generally follow a similar timeline for most people:

  • Alcohol shakes start: 6–48 hours after the last drink
  • Alcohol shakes peak: 24–72 hours
  • Alcohol shakes resolve: about one week, but can last a few days to several weeks

There are several factors affecting the duration of this timeline, including:

  • Severity of alcohol dependency
  • Your health 
  • Use of other medications or substances
  • Individual metabolic rate
  • History of alcohol withdrawal
  • Age
  • Genetic factors
  • Co-occurring mental and physical health issues

It is important to talk with a doctor to fully understand the timeline you will likely experience. A trained medical professional can best understand your specific medical situation and provide information that is specific to you personally.

Medical Treatment for Alcohol Shakes

Medical supervision is crucial when struggling with alcohol withdrawal and shakes, as other, more dangerous symptoms often accompany withdrawal-induced tremors. Detoxification under professional guidance ensures safety and comfort, helping you quickly obtain the necessary treatment. Medication-assisted treatment can help alleviate the shakes and other withdrawal symptoms, making the process more manageable.

Different treatment options and settings are available to fit the needs of any individual recovering from alcohol addiction. These include medical detox, residential rehab, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient rehab and aftercare services. Residential programs offer a structured environment throughout each day, which can be particularly beneficial for those with severe dependency. Outpatient options, on the other hand, allow individuals to maintain certain aspects of their daily life while receiving treatment.

How To Stop Alcohol Shakes

Getting professional medical help and treatment is the single most important factor for controlling alcohol withdrawal-related tremors. While medical treatment is essential, several simpler strategies can help supplement medical treatment for alcohol shakes and augment their effectiveness, including:

  • Stay hydrated to help your body recover.
  • Maintain a balanced diet to replenish nutrients.
  • Practice stress management techniques like meditation or yoga.
  • Keep yourself busy with activities to distract from the shakes.
  • Prioritize sleep to help your body heal.
  • Lean on a support network of friends, family or support groups.
  • Continue with a structured recovery program to maintain progress.

These strategies will help the shakes to be as short and mild as possible when combined with medical treatments, but they are not a substitute for seeking professional help during detox.

Seeking Professional Help for Alcohol Withdrawal in Missouri

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol shakes and withdrawal in Missouri, it’s important to seek professional help. A whole-person approach that addresses physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs is crucial for a successful recovery.

At The Recovery Village Kansas City in Missouri, we understand the difficulties you face in confronting addiction and are here to support you every step of the way. To learn more about how our caring staff and safe, comfortable facilities can help you achieve your goals, please contact us today! Your path to a healthier, alcohol-free life can start right now.

Sources

Berman, Jacob. “Alcohol withdrawal.” February 28, 2023. Accessed November 10, 2023.

Bayard, Max; Mcintyre, Jonah; & et al. “Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.” American Family Physician, 2004. Accessed November 10, 2023.

MedlinePlus. “Alcohol.” March 22, 2022. Accessed November 10, 2023.

Newman, Richard K.; Gallagher, Megan A. Stobart; & Gomez, Anna E. “Alcohol Withdrawal.” StatPearls, July 21, 2023. Accessed November 10, 2023.

Huebner, Robert B. & Kantor, Lori Wolfgang. “Advances in Alcoholism Treatment.” Alcohol Research & Health, 2011. Accessed November 10, 2023.