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What are Alcohol Shakes and How to Stop Them?

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Alcohol Shakes Treatment in Chattanooga, TN
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

Alcohol withdrawal can present a spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe, potentially fatal conditions. Common symptoms include sweating, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and tremors. More severe manifestations may include hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens (DTs).

Delirium tremens represents one of the most critical and life-threatening aspects of alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, confusion, vivid hallucinations, and delusions. About 4-5% of individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal, particularly long-term heavy drinkers, may suffer from DTs. Even seemingly minor symptoms like vomiting and sweating can lead to severe dehydration and life-threatening outcomes, underscoring the importance of medically supervised detoxification.

What Are Alcohol Shakes?

Alcohol shakes, or tremors, are a frequent symptom of alcohol withdrawal. These involuntary tremors can affect specific body parts or be more widespread. They can result from both the cessation of alcohol consumption and chronic drinking.

Are Alcohol Shakes Normal?

Experiencing tremors or shakes after stopping alcohol consumption, even just for a few hours, is a common phenomenon, often evident in the hands. For those with alcohol addiction, these shakes may seem like a normal part of daily life, expected to decrease with the next alcoholic beverage. However, alcohol shakes signal significant health issues and should not be dismissed.

Why Do Alcohol Shakes Occur?

Alcohol acts as a depressant, dampening brain activity and impacting chemicals that regulate mood. Heavy drinking trains the brain to operate under reduced stimulation. As alcohol levels drop, the brain activity surges, leading to an overactive nervous system and causing tremors or shakes. These may start as soon as eight hours after the last drink.

Even individuals who do not consider themselves alcoholics but engage in heavy or binge drinking can experience shakes. This phenomenon, sometimes referred to as ‘hangover shakes,’ occurs when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a single session, leading to trembling that can affect the hands or the entire body.

How Long Do Alcohol Shakes Last?

The duration of alcohol shakes can differ greatly among individuals, influenced by the severity of their alcohol dependency. Typically, tremors begin 5 to 10 hours after the last drink. This is common for individuals who regularly consume substantial amounts of alcohol and may wake up experiencing shakes, often seeking another drink to mitigate the discomfort. These tremors usually peak between 24 to 78 hours after ceasing alcohol but can continue for several weeks or even longer in more severe cases.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol shakes are often one of the first indicators of alcohol withdrawal. Accompanying symptoms may include increased blood pressure, excessive sweating, accelerated breathing, nausea, vomiting, a rapid heartbeat, and irritability.

As withdrawal progresses, other symptoms can develop:

  • Hallucinations: Starting within 12 to 24 hours post-last drink, hallucinations can last up to two days. Affected individuals may see or sense non-existent entities, such as crawling insects or moving objects.
  • Seizures: These can commence as soon as 6 to 48 hours after stopping alcohol, with potential for several occurrences over a short period.
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs): This severe condition may begin two to three days after the last alcohol consumption but symptoms can sometimes manifest after a week. DTs are characterized by drastic changes in breathing, circulation, and temperature control, necessitating immediate medical intervention.

Alcohol Shakes vs. Delirium Tremens

The spectrum of alcohol withdrawal symptoms ranges from mild to severe, with delirium tremens representing the most extreme end, potentially leading to fatal seizures. This condition usually starts with insomnia and shakes, rapidly progressing to confusion, disorientation, vivid hallucinations, and intense tremors. Immediate medical care is crucial due to the severity and rapid progression of delirium tremens.

Furthermore, some individuals may experience psychosis during withdrawal, showing signs of paranoia, extreme jealousy, or persistent auditory hallucinations, all requiring medical attention. Long-term alcohol consumption can also cause significant memory problems.

The presence of alcohol shakes can be a precursor to the development of delirium tremens, highlighting the necessity for medically supervised detox to ensure safety and provide the appropriate care during withdrawal.

Managing Alcohol Shakes Alone

Attempting to handle alcohol shakes independently is highly discouraged due to the potential progression to more severe withdrawal symptoms. Common suggestions such as hydration, taking vitamins, or maintaining a balanced diet, while helpful, are not adequate for safely managing the full scope of withdrawal symptoms, which can be life-threatening.

Professional medical oversight is vital during alcohol withdrawal. Health professionals can offer essential support and treatments to effectively manage symptoms and mitigate the risk of serious complications, ensuring a safer detox process.

Alcohol Shakes Treatment

Alcohol withdrawal can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions, making medically supervised detoxification the safest and most effective approach. Trained healthcare and addiction treatment professionals are essential in determining the appropriate detox and ongoing treatment strategy.

Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox involves removing alcohol from the body and managing the associated withdrawal symptoms. Although the alcohol itself might clear from the body within a few days, symptoms such as cravings, shakes, and other withdrawal effects could last much longer. Once the body is free of alcohol, the individual can begin the comprehensive process of addiction treatment.

Comprehensive Treatment Options

Treatment for alcohol dependency can be administered through both inpatient and outpatient settings, depending on the individual’s needs and the severity of their condition.

Common elements of these programs include:

  • Individual and Group Therapy: These therapies are crucial for addressing the psychological aspects of addiction.
  • Family Therapy: Helps to repair and strengthen family relationships affected by alcohol dependency.
  • Education about Alcohol Addiction: Increases understanding of the nature of alcohol addiction and strategies for managing it.
  • Support from 12-Step Programs: Provides a community of support that encourages ongoing sobriety and personal growth.
  • Care for Physical and Psychological Issues: Addresses any co-occurring mental health disorders or physical complications arising from alcohol use.

Committing to Long-Term Recovery

Achieving a successful, long-term recovery from alcohol dependency requires commitment to an effective treatment program and dedication to lifestyle changes that support physical and mental health. Sobriety is not just about abstaining from alcohol but also involves actively managing one’s health and making positive life choices. This comprehensive approach helps individuals reclaim their lives and move towards a healthier, alcohol-free future.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

At Iris Wellness Group we specialize in providing targeted and compassionate treatment for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction in Chattanooga, TN. Recognizing the unique journey of each person affected by alcohol addiction, our dedicated team offers personalized care plans designed to address the specific needs and challenges of our clients. Our goal is to support individuals on their path to recovery, helping them achieve a healthier, substance-free lifestyle through a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction and Withdrawal

  • Outpatient Detox: Offers medically supervised detoxification services to safely manage withdrawal symptoms in an outpatient setting.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Designed for those who require flexible treatment schedules without intensive daily commitments.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Ideal for individuals needing more support than standard outpatient care, providing a structured therapy schedule while allowing patients to live at home.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Serves as a bridge between inpatient care and outpatient treatment, offering comprehensive day-long therapy sessions for more intensive care without an overnight stay.

To complement our range of treatment options, Iris Wellness Group integrates a holistic approach to therapy, targeting the multifaceted aspects of alcohol addiction. Understanding that recovery is not one-size-fits-all, we tailor our therapy programs to meet the individual needs of our clients, focusing on not just overcoming addiction but also on fostering long-term wellness and resilience.

Therapies Offered for Alcohol Addiction and Withdrawal:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Aims to identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors related to cannabis use.
  • Individual Therapy: Offers a private setting for patients to explore personal issues and challenges related to their addiction.
  • Group Therapy: Provides a supportive environment where individuals can share experiences and strategies for coping with addiction.
  • Family Therapy: Engages family members in the treatment process to heal relationships and build a supportive home environment for recovery.

If you or someone you care about be grappling with alcohol shakes, it’s crucial to act now. Contact our alcohol rehab in Chattanooga, TN at 423-460-9766 or through our online form to embark on the path towards a life free from drug dependence.

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