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How to Treat Alcohol Shakes

It’s been a couple of hours since your last drink, and you notice your hands shaking ever so slightly. It’s difficult for you to write or draw now. Alcohol shakes or tremors are a form of withdrawal symptoms that are best described as trembling of the hands or other body regions. Alcohol shakes can be random and constant, starting within five to 10 hours of the last use. Those struggling with alcohol use disorder will typically experience this. Alcohol misuse is commonly determined by 1 daily glass for women and 2 daily glasses for men. Binge drinking is recognized as consuming more than 5 drinks in a single sitting. 

In 2019, about 20.8% of driving fatalities were a result of alcohol-impaired driving. The overconsumption of alcohol poses many threats to the safety of the user and those around them. Alcohol is classified as a depressant for its effects on the central nervous system. Those who consume alcohol often report a sense of ease, confidence, and weightlessness. On the other side of the coin, blurred vision, loss of coordination, and nausea are some of the complementary side effects of alcohol use.  

Alcohol is popular with polydrug use, such as benzos and marijuana. The combination can present drastic effects on the body, barraging the system with addictive substances. 

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction?

  • Requiring alcohol to maintain normal function 
  • Persistent use of alcohol despite negative outcomes 
  • Poor performance at school or work 
  • Financial issues 
  • Increased conflict in relationships 
  • Increased engagement in risky behavior such as fighting and driving 

The severity of alcohol addiction can play a significant role in the next steps towards potential treatment. Those with severe alcohol addiction can manifest a buffet of health complications that might require medical supervision. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the World Health Organization reported that alcohol contributed to 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions.  

Adolescents are quite vulnerable to the side effects of chronic alcohol abuse as their brains are still developing. Fetal alcohol syndrome can occur if the expectant mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy, which can produce withdrawal-like symptoms in the child. Additionally, genetics can play a major factor in the development of alcohol use disorder. If your parents exhibited constant drinking over extended periods, you might be susceptible to the effects based on how receptive your genes are.  

A person’s environment has a direct influence on whether they develop a substance use disorder like alcohol addiction. Those with caregivers or older loved ones in the home intercept the coping mechanisms of drinking and are more likely to use themselves. If you have a mental health disorder, you might drink alcohol to self-medicate. Individuals struggling with co-occurring disorders may require dual diagnosis treatment to guide them through these complications. 

Binge Drinking and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol dependence can come in stages, usually prompted by experimentation or social settings that encourage drinking. For example, binge drinking is a common practice among teenagers and college students. Alcohol dependence might be shrouded as “having a good time” but it’s important to remember that denial and rationalization are common tactics. There is a percentage of alcohol-dependent people who express high-functioning such as going to work and performing other tasks. Once alcohol abuse has exceeded this point, the person drinks to live rather than living to drink. The withdrawal effects are too much to bear and create a rift in the recovery process. 

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are believed to spring from the absence of alcohol in the body to regulate the flow of reward-based chemical messengers. Alcohol has a particular effect on the production of GABA receptors and glutamate. GABA receptors are responsible for the calming effect you feel shortly after downing 2 shots of your favorite liquor. Glutamate is a chemical messenger that produces excitable euphoria.  

Alcohol can inhibit the process of GABA receptors and decrease the production of glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that also plays a role in memory recall and processing. Over time, tolerance can build as chronic use persists. Once the body becomes dependent on alcohol, it may be difficult to quit. Physical dependence on a substance poses many obstacles but that does not mean there isn’t hope for recovery. 

  • Nausea 
  • Anxiety 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Increased temperature 
  • Sleeplessness 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Delirium tremens 
  • Coma, in extreme cases 

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Addiction

  • Cirrhosis 
  • Brain damage 
  • Anemia 
  • Cancer 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Gout 
  • Depression 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Cardiovascular disease 
Infographic on experiencing alcohol shakes

How Do You Treat Alcohol Shakes?

Alcohol detoxification would be an ideal step to treat alcohol shakes and addiction. Alcohol detox can last up to 10 days, or longer depending on the severity of the case. The peak of the withdrawal generally occurs within 24-48 hours after use has stopped. If you discover that alcohol shakes are becoming frustrating, make sure to find ways to release that tension. Yoga and light exercise has shown to be effective at treating alcohol shakes. Your body will require hydration, so drinking plenty of water and rich foods will restore some of the balance in your body.  

Heavy alcohol consumption is recognized for its effect on the body’s ability to absorb nutrients in the system, powered by the liver. It’s vital to avoid any processed or sugary foods and drinks during this time. Those with severe cases of alcohol dependence will experience dehydration, which can influence the rate of withdrawal symptoms. Since chronic alcohol abuse manipulates the chemical messengers in the brain to repeat the behavior, it’s important to have medical supervision when detoxing. If you decide to quit cold turkey, it may have drastic consequences and could lead to an eventual relapse.  

When Do Alcohol Shakes Stop?

Alcohol shakes typically subside within a few days to a week after the last drink. However, the duration and severity of alcohol shakes can vary depending on individual factors such as the amount and duration of alcohol consumption, overall health, and any co-occurring medical conditions. 

What Do Alcohol Shakes Feel Like?

Alcohol shakes can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by other withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, and nausea. The shakes feel like uncontrollable trembling or shakiness, often in the hands or other parts of the body. The severity and duration of alcohol shakes can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s level of alcohol dependence and overall health. 

What Can I Expect in an Alcohol Detox?

During medically monitored alcohol detox, a patient can expect to receive treatment at a hospital, detox center, or inpatient residence. Medication may be provided for those with pre-existing conditions and to alleviate the unsettling withdrawal symptoms. For example, staff might prescribe a benzodiazepine such as Xanax to a patient experiencing anxiety and restlessness during detox.  

This will enable them to push through the withdrawal period long enough to receive the full scope of addiction treatment. During this time, a patient can anticipate learning about the science behind addiction and how it interacts with the chemical systems in the body. With this knowledge, the patient is better equipped to understand and even manage their symptoms if this occurs again. 

What’s Next After the Alcohol Shakes?

So, the alcohol shakes have finally subsided. If you find yourself at the crossroads of alcohol use disorder and living alternatively, then seeking treatment would be the next step. It’s important to recognize that substance use disorders are treatable through specialized care and medication if necessary. Addiction is a disease that spreads from the individual and infects those around them. You might find yourself having to rebuild relationships with others as you’ve plunged into the depths of this disorder. Remember to practice self-compassion as social drinking is still prevalent throughout society.  

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs are available for those who require a more intensive approach to recovery, such as 24/7 medical care and a trigger-free environment. If you have a mild to moderate case of alcohol addiction, then an outpatient addiction treatment program might be ideal. You’ll have a chance to receive treatment through scheduled therapies, wellness practices, and group support. The individuals in group therapy can offer perspective into the recovery journey, as they might be further along in the continuum of care. 


Individual therapies are common in addiction recovery, so you should have an opportunity to seek the root cause of your addiction. Substance use disorders can manifest as a way to cope with the stresses and trauma of life. Alcoholics Anonymous is a widespread organization dedicated to promoting the 12-Step Program and educating people on methods to rid themselves of addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous has branched out into other fields in the realm of addiction recovery. 

If you find yourself struggling with relapse, please reach out to someone in your support system or sponsor. Relapse affects approximately 40-60% of recovering individuals. It’s crucial to maintain a routine and hobbies to occupy the time that would otherwise be spent on drinking. Try avoiding individuals who will enable you to drink as your environment should reflect the life you want to live. 

Sana Lake Awaits with Care

Alcohol use disorder can be exhausting on the body and mind as you navigate the recovery path. Sana Lake is dedicated to providing the utmost level of support for you or a loved one. Personalized treatment should be accessible for those willing to embrace a healthy lifestyle. The grasp of alcohol addiction can leave lasting health impacts on the vital systems. If you or a loved one are fighting the war against substance use, please contact us today. 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved from 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from 

American Addiction Centers. (2020). Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment. Retrieved from 

Addiction Science Network. (2001). Alcohol Withdrawal. Retrieved from 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2020). Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose. Retrieved from 

Picture of Ashley Murry LCSW
Ashley Murry LCSW
Ashley Murry, LCSW, is the Chief Clinical Officer at Sana Lake Recovery. She oversees clinical operations, ensuring effective treatment strategies and compliance. Before this, she was Program Director at Gateway Foundation, managing care programs and collaborating with state departments. Ashley has also served as Director of Clinical Services at Treatment Management Company, improving staff retention and clinical standards. She holds a Master's in Social Work from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor's in Social Work from Saint Leo University. She is licensed in Florida, Arizona and Missouri.
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