A Guide to Managing Alcohol Withdrawal Tremors

alcohol withdrawal tremors

Do you or someone you love experience alcohol withdrawal shakes when you try to stay away from alcohol? Uncontrollable shaking of the hands or body is a common sign of alcohol dependence.

Excessive alcohol use affects the brain’s nerve activity. Tremors can begin six to ten hours after your last drink, and are at their peak from 48 to 72 hours later. The time frame varies depending on the severity of the dependence.

The shakes are a common issue with alcohol dependence. It’s no surprise that people are interested in how to get rid of them.

Although it’s not always possible to avoid the shakes, there are ways to manage them.

Here’s what you should know about alcohol withdrawal tremors.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Shakes?

When you consume large amounts of alcohol, it slows brain activity and lowers energy levels. To compensate, the brain increases nerve activity in an attempt to put the body in a heightened state of alertness.

When alcohol intake suddenly stops, the brain increases nerve activity. This leads to shaking, anxiety, and other symptoms of withdrawal.

After an alcoholic has completed the detox process, the shakes usually resolve. The detoxification process varies and can last from several days to a few months.

Unfortunately, long-term alcohol addiction can lead to nerve, liver, and brain damage, which may lead to persistent tremors.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’re a long-term drinker who suddenly stops, there’s a risk of experiencing severe or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Common symptoms include:

  • Shakes and tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating

These tremors often begin as rhythmic shaking of the body, especially the hands. The person may have difficulty writing, walking, eating, or driving.

Around 5% of patients experience delirium tremens (DTs). These are severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms and can be potentially fatal.

These symptoms may include:

  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Confusion
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Seizures

People at risk for these symptoms usually have a history of alcohol addiction. Anyone who has a history of severe withdrawal symptoms or who stops drinking suddenly after a period of heavy drinking is more likely to experience severe symptoms.

Detox is a very individual process, and people respond differently. If you’re ready to begin the recovery process, it’s advisable to detox in a reputable rehab center or medical facility.

Alcohol Dependency

Many frequent drinkers are unaware if they are dependent on alcohol or not. If you think you may have a problem, some symptoms to look for include:

  • You have an ongoing compulsion to drink
  • You struggle to control how much you drink
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking
  • You need more alcohol to achieve the desired effect
  • You’re neglecting other areas of your life such as your job or hobbies
  • You continue to drink despite its negative physical effects

If you have a dependency on alcohol, you aren’t alone. It’s important to seek help for your addiction.

If you’ve stopped drinking before and have relapsed, it’s important to detox under medical supervision.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’ve made the decision to stop drinking, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor. They can help you begin your journey toward a healthier, happier life. They can guide you to the best next steps to sobriety.

Long-term alcohol abuse impacts your mental and physical health. If your doctor knows your health history, that’s a plus. If they don’t, it’s time to share everything with them.

Your doctor can refer you to an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Whatever path to getting sober you choose, it’s a good idea to have medical supervision.

Medications for Alcohol Withdrawal

There are a variety of medications that can help ease tremors and other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If you’re beginning treatment and are wanting to stop the withdrawal shakes, medication may help.

Benzodiazepines and Baclofen are commonly used to manage withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines like Librium, Valium, Serax, and Ativan can help treat tremors and other symptoms.

These drugs should only be used under medical supervision. They can be dangerous and interact with other medications if they aren’t used properly.

Baclofen is a muscle relaxer. It affects the central nervous system and can ease tremors. It isn’t a narcotic but can still lead to serious side effects.

Baclofen has shown promise in reducing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. At this time, it is still used as an “off-label” medication for detox purposes.

Relaxation and Exercise

Beyond medication, there are ways you can help ease or manage the shakes on your own. Meditation and breathing exercises can help calm the body and mind.

Practicing relaxation techniques regularly may help you deal with withdrawal symptoms easier. Many people use these techniques to help prevent relapse or deal with triggers.

Exercise and stretching can also help manage alcohol shakes and help you feel better mentally and physically. Exercise helps the body release endorphins which have mood-lifting properties.

This may help ease some of the difficult emotions that surface during alcohol withdrawal. Stretching eases tension, loosens muscles, and reduces pain symptoms.

Getting outdoors and into the fresh air can help ease stress and may help with tremors. Finding a vigorous activity you enjoy such as jogging, bicycling, or hiking takes your mind off your symptoms and helps alleviate stress.

Slowing down and finding quiet activities like listening to music, writing, or drawing can be stress relievers, too. The best advice is to take advantage of any resources you have to occupy your mind and stay focused on your recovery goals.

Professional Support Makes a Difference

During the withdrawal process, it’s important to avoid people and situations that might trigger you to drink. The beginning stages are hard, so having a support network around you is necessary.

Whether you’re beginning your journey to sobriety, are currently in treatment, or are trying to live a sober existence, you need support. Seeing a therapist or drug counselor is another positive step toward a healthier you.

There are online support systems available as well. Professional support can help you stay on track with your recovery and provide an avenue for help when you need it most.

Other Ways to Ease Alcohol Withdrawal Tremors

Aside from getting the professional help you need, there are other ways to reduce tremors.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Staying hydrated during the detox process is critical. Fluids help flush harmful toxins out of the body. This may lessen the effects of tremors and ease other withdrawal symptoms.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

An unhealthy diet that includes fatty and sugary foods can worsen the shakes. Instead, opt for a diet of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

Vitamin supplements may be helpful. Consult your doctor before starting vitamin or mineral supplements during the detox period.

Practice Stress Management

It’s normal to struggle with anxiety, stress, and fear if you’re having withdrawal symptoms. Your life is changing, and it can be overwhelming.

Negative emotions can intensify tremors and other withdrawal symptoms. Practices like mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, and visualizations may help reduce withdrawal symptoms and help you manage intense feelings.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom. Exhaustion can make tremors worse.

Practicing stress management techniques and establishing a healthy bedtime routine can help.

Support of Family and Friends

Having the support of loving family and friends can be very helpful for recovery. Your loved ones should be supportive of your sobriety and help you maintain an alcohol-free environment.

If you have family support, encourage them to participate in family counseling sessions. A strong support system can improve your chances of success in living a sober life.

Stay the Course

If you’ve made the decision to begin treatment for alcohol dependence, you’ve taken the first step toward recovery. The best way to achieve this is to follow your treatment program, seek professional support, and participate in after-care services.

Help for a Brighter Future

If you’re new to alcohol addiction treatment, you may be experiencing alcohol withdrawal tremors. These symptoms, along with other symptoms of withdrawal, can be hard to deal with and manage.

The good news is that the right medication, treatment, counseling, and self-care can help you manage these symptoms. If you’re looking for a supportive community to stand by you on your recovery journey, Detox to Rehab is here to help.

We understand addiction. And we know how lonely it can be.

Our goal is to provide the information and support you need to jump into a healthier, happier future.

Contact us today to learn more.

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