Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is mainly characterized by the increased tolerance for alcohol consumption and the presence of withdrawal symptoms if someone tries to avoid alcohol intake. About 50% of those with an AUD history experience withdrawal symptoms on discontinuing alcohol intake. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, hallucinations, seizures, fever, and high blood pressure. Alcohol tremors, also known as alcohol shakes, usually occur as a response to alcohol abstinence and start to appear as early as six hours after the last drink. Alcohol tremors are also considered an early sign of delirium tremens, a severe complication of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol tremors are characterized by involuntary shaking or trembling of any part of the body, mainly the hands or legs. The duration of tremors and their severity depends on circumstances like how abruptly one stopped taking alcohol; however, they may last one to two weeks or more. Certain medications and self-help tips can help manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms, reducing the risk of alcohol tremors.
Confidant Health provides a virtual alcohol rehab program and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to help you overcome alcohol use disorder with minimal chances of experiencing alcohol tremors or other withdrawal symptoms. Confidant Health’s online alcohol treatments can help you get back to a healthy lifestyle without alcohol intake.
What are alcohol tremors?
Alcohol tremors are the uncontrolled shaking or involuntary movement of one of the parts of the body, and they are a key symptom of alcohol withdrawal. If left unmanaged, alcohol tremors may progress to a life-threatening condition called delirium tremens. Typically, alcohol tremors are present in the hands; however, they may also occur in the legs or arms. Furthermore, alcohol tremors may be intermittent or continuous.
For people who are in detox while quitting alcohol consumption, alcohol tremors are barely noticeable. Why? Because certain medications and therapies are used to control these involuntary movements and prevent delirium tremens.
Causes of alcohol tremors
The following are the main causes that can result in alcohol tremors.
Abrupt cessation of alcohol use
Heavy alcohol use causes a change in brain chemistry as when alcohol is taken, it reduces brain functioning and its activity. Regular alcohol use basically alters neurotransmitters like gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. When alcohol use is stopped, the brain responds to this condition by increasing nerve activity in order to maintain body homeostasis. When alcohol use is abruptly stopped, the brain doesn't stop to deliver increased nerve activity due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters. This results in tremors, hyperactivity in the body, and other withdrawal symptoms. Once rehabilitation is completely done, tremors automatically resolve. In some cases, heavy alcohol use leads to permanent liver, nerve, and brain damage which leads to permanent tremors.
Chronic alcohol use
Consumption of alcohol for extended periods can also lead to alcohol tremors. A study has revealed that 47% of people struggling with alcohol misuse had a postural tremor and functional disability occurred in 17 % of those.