Shakes and tremors are some of the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms. People who become physically dependent on alcohol will adapt to the presence of this drug in their systems and require it for everyday functioning. Abrupt discontinuation of alcohol can upset normal functioning for those who are alcohol-dependent and lead to a range of withdrawal symptoms including shakes and tremors.
Here’s a closer look at alcohol dependence and withdrawal, and at how alcohol and drug detox may help minimize and treat withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Alcohol Dependence?
Alcohol dependence is characterized by a set of withdrawal symptoms when a person suddenly stops or reduces alcohol use. Alcohol dependence can occur after you become tolerant of a certain amount of alcohol. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines tolerance as when the body stops responding to a certain amount of alcohol and needs higher amounts to feel the effects. Over time, as a person starts drinking higher amounts of alcohol, their body may become dependent on this substance.
The CDC reports that an estimated 10.2% of people who drink excessively are dependent on alcohol. Excessive drinking is defined as binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by people younger than 21 or pregnant women. Binge drinking is at least four drinks during a single occasion for women and at least five drinks during a single occasion for men. Heavy drinking is at least eight drinks per week for women and at least 15 drinks per week for men.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe and are more common in those who drink heavily on a regular basis. Symptoms can begin at any time within six hours after the last drink and last for up to 10 days or longer, according to the World Health Organization.
Minor alcohol withdrawal usually lasts for between 24 and 48 hours and includes symptoms of sweating, rapid heart rate, headache, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, and shaking. Moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms include grand mal seizures and visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. Those going through severe withdrawal may experience up to six seizures within a six-hour period, according to research published in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Shakes?
Shakes and tremors that occur during alcohol withdrawal are caused by changes in the brain and body from chronic alcohol abuse and heavy drinking. Heavy drinking interacts with the body’s production of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA plays an important role in central nervous system functions—including motor control. This upset in the body’s levels of GABA is what contributes to shaking, tremors, sweating, and many other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, according to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.
An estimated 5% of people going through alcohol withdrawal experience a severe syndrome called delirium tremens. Delirium tremens is characterized by severe tremors, along with severe confusion, agitation, fever, rapid heart rate, delusions, and hallucinations. When left untreated, this form of alcohol withdrawal can lead to complications including hyperpyrexia, ketoacidosis, heart failure, and death.
How Alcohol Detox Can Treat Withdrawal
People who experience shakes and tremors when discontinuing alcohol can experience a safe recovery from alcohol dependence at an alcohol rehab center that offers detox. Alcohol deztox allows you to withdraw from alcohol while receiving 24-hour medical care and supervision, which reduces the risk for serious complications like delirium tremens. Many detox centers use medications to help relieve your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable during withdrawal.
America’s Rehab Campuses offers medical detox services to help people safely recover from drug and alcohol dependence. If you or a loved one is dependent on alcohol and needs help getting through withdrawal, call us today at 833-272-7342 to confirm your insurance benefits and begin a drug rehab program.