why do alcoholics shake

Alcoholism can sneak up on a person. You may be high functioning, able to sail through your days with no trouble. You might remain very social, never showing that you struggle with alcohol abuse. There will, though, come a day when this disease will rear its ugly head and blow your cover.

Hand tremors are one of the common signs of alcohol addiction that is hard to hide. The shaking hands may begin subtly. It might only be felt by you and not visible to others. Over time, as the disease becomes more pronounced, hand tremors will give away your secret. This may prompt an honest look at the severity of your problem, hopefully leading you to seek treatment.

Why Do Alcoholics Shake

The Three Stages of Alcoholism

It is still not known why some people can drink a lot yet never become alcoholic. Others will, sadly, succumb to the disease. Factors seen as contributing can make the difference. These include family history of alcoholism, coexisting depression or anxiety, traumatic life events, and chronic stress.

What Are They

Alcoholism proceeds in three stages, although the length of time at any of the stages can vary. These stages are:

  • Early stage alcoholism. During this stage alcohol use becomes more regular, versus social events only. Someone may drink to self-medicate a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety, or help them fall asleep. During this phase, the person may not be honest about how much they drink. Meanwhile, tolerance builds. Higher levels must be consumed to get the same effects they sought early on. Over time, this leads to dependency.
  • Middle stage alcoholism. At this stage it becomes clear to others that there is a drinking problem. The person may have blackouts after drinking to excess. They may have mood swings, become irritable, and have stomach distress. Bloating and weight gain or loss are signs of middle stage alcoholism. Alcohol cravings become more intense, and the person becomes obsessed about when they can drink again. At this stage, there are relationship problems, financial problems due to job loss, and possibly a DUI. When not drinking, withdrawal symptoms, including the shaking hands sign of alcoholism, will break through.
  • End stage alcoholism. At the final stage of alcoholism the person has no control over their drinking at all. They wake up sick and have to begin drinking first thing in the morning. To fend off withdrawal symptoms they need to drink all day long. Serious conditions have developed. Theses might include cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, hepatitis, or heart disease. End stage alcoholics are also more prone to falls and accidents. Cognitive problems become pronounced. This could include signs of dementia, paranoia and fear. Suicide is a concern in end stage alcoholism as well.

What Causes Alcoholics to Shake?

Once the brain chemistry has been altered due to excess drinking it leads to chemical dependence. This means that attempts to quit drinking, or even just cutting back, may cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms result when the body attempts to function without the expected alcohol intake.

The shaking hands represent one of the visible signs of the disease. The tremors are often seen in the hands, but they can also affect the whole body. It is thought that the tremors are caused by the absence of the alcohol that has had a sedative effect. The central nervous system expects it. When alcohol is withheld the messaging between the brain and the central nervous system that controls muscle movement is disrupted.

Other Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

It isn’t only the hand tremors or shaking that is noticed. There are several other unpleasant symptoms that begin within 8 hours of the last drink. How severe the withdrawal symptoms are depends on certain factors. These include how much alcohol is usually consumed and how long the individual has been a heavy drinker.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Clammy skin.
  • Irritability
  • Hand tremors.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia.
  • Nightmares
  • Depression.
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Seizures

Shaking Hands Sign of Alcoholism

Detox for Alcoholism

When the person is ready to get treatment for the alcohol problem they will need to go through detox. This should be a detox program because alcohol withdrawals can become a serious health issue in some cases. These events are hard to predict but must be prepared for. A detox provides the support needed to complete the detox program and enter treatment.

During the detox, the vital signs will be monitored throughout. These can foretell whether the delirium tremens are starting. The DTs affect about 5% of those who undergo alcohol detox. Through the detox process, benzos are offered to prevent seizure, assist with anxiety symptoms, and aid sleep. Other meds will be offered as needed for nausea or stomach distress.

The person should begin the addiction treatment program right after detox is done. Treatment will help him or her change certain behaviors that have become habit over time. CBT is a short-term therapy that is very helpful for treating addictive behaviors. CBT helps clients identify the misguided thoughts that lead to alcohol use. CBT helps them change these disordered thought and behavior patterns, helping them to gain control over their choices.

alcoholic tremors

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Capo by the Sea is an elite addiction recovery program, serving people in Southern California. Capo by the Sea offers a unique blend of assets. These include the beach setting, a premier clinical staff, luxury accommodations, and holistic spa-like activities. People choose Capo by the Sea because its treatment team exudes both compassion and expertise. Also, the tranquil location invokes healing. If you are experiencing the shaking hands, it is time to address the problem and get the help you need and deserve. For more information about our program, please contact Capo by the Sea today at (888) 529-2114.