Shakes From Alcohol: Understanding the Truth About This Side Effect of Alcohol Abuse

Shakes from Alcohol: Understanding the Truth About this Side Effect of Alcohol Abuse

What are shakes from alcohol? Caused by heavy drinking, alcohol shakes are a sign of a dangerous problem with alcohol. Learn more in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

August 10, 2023

Alcohol, a widely consumed social lubricant, can affect the human body. While the pleasant buzz and relaxation it brings are familiar to many, there's a darker side to excessive alcohol consumption.

One unsettling consequence that can occur is the shakes, also known as alcohol withdrawal tremors. Understanding the shakes from alcohol is crucial for promoting awareness, encouraging responsible drinking habits, and aiding those struggling with alcohol addiction.

Shakes From Alcohol: The Symptoms

These shakes intensify during rest periods or heightened stress, making them particularly challenging to manage. While alcohol consumption provides temporary relief, the tremors return more intensely once the effects of alcohol wear off. Alongside the shakes, individuals may experience heightened anxiety, restlessness, profuse sweating, rapid heart rate, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.

Understanding the symptoms of alcohol shakes is crucial in recognizing the impact of excessive alcohol on most people.

Shakes From Alcohol: Trembling

Alcohol shakes cause uncontrollable trembling or shaking, typically affecting the hands, fingers, arms, or legs.

Shakes From Alcohol: Worsening at Rest or Stress

The tremors intensify during periods of rest or heightened stress.

Alcohol Provides Temporary Relief From Shakes From Alcohol

Alcohol consumption temporarily alleviates the tremors, but they return more intensely once the effects of alcohol wear off.

Shakes From Alcohol: Anxiety and Irritability

Individuals experience heightened anxiety, restlessness, or irritability.

Shakes From Alcohol: Sweating

Profuse sweating occurs, especially in the palms of the hands or on the forehead.

Shakes From Alcohol: Rapid Heart Rate

Increased heart rate or palpitations accompany the tremors.

Shakes From Alcohol: Insomnia

Difficulty falling asleep or disrupted sleep patterns are often observed.

Shakes From Alcohol: Difficulty Concentrating

Individuals struggle with focusing, experiencing poor concentration or memory.

Treating and Managing Shakes From Alcohol

Managing alcohol shakes and promoting recovery requires a comprehensive approach that involves seeking medical supervision, gradually reducing alcohol consumption, utilizing prescribed medications, participating in detoxification programs, receiving psychological support, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. 

Seek Medical Supervision

It is crucial for individuals experiencing alcohol shakes to seek medical supervision, particularly in severe withdrawal symptoms. Healthcare professionals near you can offer appropriate guidance and support.

Taper Off Alcohol

In mild cases, medical professionals recommend gradually reducing alcohol consumption under their supervision. This approach allows the body to adjust slowly, minimizing the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Prescribed Medications

In more severe cases, healthcare providers may prescribe medications like benzodiazepines to manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications. These medications help stabilize the nervous system.

Participate in Detoxification Programs

Medical detoxification programs, often conducted in an inpatient setting, provide intensive care and monitoring for individuals with severe alcohol dependence. These programs help manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure the individual's safety.

Receive Psychological Support

Support groups, counseling, and behavioral therapies are crucial in treating and managing alcohol shakes. These interventions address the underlying causes of alcohol dependence, provide coping strategies, and offer emotional support.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle: Managing alcohol shakes and preventing relapse involve adopting a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, stress reduction techniques (such as meditation or yoga), and a nutritious diet contribute to overall well-being and aid in recovery.

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Short- Term & Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Shakes

These involuntary trembling or shaking movements result from the body's response to sudden alcohol withdrawal. Understanding the impact of alcohol shakes is crucial in recognizing the potential consequences. By actively addressing the root causes and effects of alcohol shakes, individuals can work towards recovery, improve their overall well-being, and reduce the risk of long-term and short-term complications. 

Shakes From Alcohol: Short-Term Side Effects

Physical Discomfort: Alcohol shakes can cause immediate physical discomfort and distress due to involuntary tremors and muscle contractions. This can affect everyday activities and interfere with fine motor skills.

Anxiety and Agitation: The presence of alcohol shakes often accompanies heightened anxiety and agitation. These feelings can be overwhelming and impact an individual's emotional well-being.

Insomnia and Sleep Disturbances: Alcohol shakes can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and difficulty falling or staying asleep throughout the night.

Increased Heart Rate: The tremors may be accompanied by an increased heart rate or palpitations, adding to the discomfort and unease.

Shakes From Alcohol: Long-Term Side Effects

Chronic Tremors: Prolonged alcohol abuse and repeated episodes of alcohol shakes can lead to chronic tremors even when not experiencing withdrawal. These tremors may persist and become more severe over time.

Cognitive Impairment: Long-term alcohol shakes can contribute to cognitive impairments, including difficulties with concentration, memory loss, and decreased overall cognitive functioning.

Emotional Instability: The long-term effects of alcohol shakes can include emotional instability, such as mood swings, irritability, and an increased risk of developing mental health conditions like depression or anxiety disorders.

Neurological Damage: Chronic alcohol abuse, accompanied by recurring alcohol shakes, can lead to neurological damage. This may manifest as problems with coordination, balance and even irreversible conditions such as alcoholic neuropathy.

Social and Interpersonal Consequences: Alcohol shakes can significantly impact an individual's social and interpersonal relationships. The visible physical symptoms and associated emotional distress can strain relationships and lead to social isolation.

Increased Risk of Relapse: Individuals who experience alcohol shakes and fail to seek appropriate treatment and support are at a higher risk of relapse into alcohol abuse, perpetuating the cycle of adverse health effects.

How To Deal With Shakes From Alcohol

Before and after experiencing alcohol shakes, take active steps to prevent their occurrence and support your recovery. Alcohol shakes, also known as alcohol withdrawal tremors, can be distressing and disruptive. Here are some proactive measures you can take both before and after alcohol shakes:

Before Alcohol Shakes

Develop a Support Network: Build a strong support network of friends, family, or support groups who can provide encouragement, understanding, and accountability during your journey. Having people knowledgeable about alcohol addiction can significantly affect your recovery process.

Educate Yourself: Learn about the potential signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including alcohol shakes. Understanding what to expect can help you prepare mentally and emotionally, making the process less daunting.

After Alcohol Shakes

Follow Treatment Recommendations: Adhere to the treatment recommendations provided by healthcare professionals, including medications and therapy. This may involve taking prescribed medications as directed and attending therapy sessions to address the underlying causes of alcohol dependence.

Maintain Accountability: Stay accountable to yourself and your support network. Attend follow-up appointments, continue therapy sessions, and communicate your progress openly with your loved ones. Being accountable helps you stay on track and reinforces your commitment to a healthier, alcohol-free life.

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Can Alcohol Shakes Be Cured? 

Whether alcohol shakes can be cured is a common concern among those seeking relief from this symptom. While alcohol shakes can be effectively managed and minimized, it is beneficial to know a complete "cure" may not be a realistic expectation. However, individuals can adapt approaches to recovery and significantly improve their quality of life. 

Comprehensive Treatment Programs

Comprehensive treatment programs are crucial for addressing alcohol dependence and managing the associated symptoms, including alcohol shakes. These programs often include a combination of medical intervention, therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes.


Medications may be prescribed to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including alcohol shakes. These medications help stabilize the nervous system and reduce the severity of tremors. It is essential to follow the prescribed dosage and duration as instructed by your healthcare provider.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention strategies are crucial for sustaining recovery and minimizing the likelihood of experiencing alcohol shakes again. These strategies may include identifying triggers, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and having a strong support system.

Note: While a complete cure for alcohol shakes may not be possible, it is essential to recognize that with the proper treatment, support, and lifestyle changes, individuals can effectively manage and minimize the impact of alcohol shakes on their lives. 

How Are Alcohol Shakes Treated?

Diagnosing shakes from alcohol, also known as alcohol withdrawal tremors, typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a doctor. The evaluation aims to gather information about the patient's medical history, assess their physical condition, and rule out other potential causes of tremors.


The doctor begins by taking a detailed medical history, including gathering information about the patient's alcohol consumption patterns, previous episodes of alcohol withdrawal, and any other relevant medical conditions. A thorough physical examination is conducted to assess the patient's overall health and to look for any signs of alcohol-related complications or other underlying medical conditions.

Blood Tests

Blood tests may be ordered to assess liver function, check for nutritional deficiencies, and screen for other possible causes of tremors. These tests help rule out other medical conditions contributing to the symptoms.


The doctor evaluates the patient based on the diagnostic criteria for alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This involves assessing characteristic symptoms such as tremors, anxiety, sweating, and agitation within a specific timeframe after the reduction or cessation of alcohol intake.

The doctor may use standardized questionnaires or interviews to assess the severity of alcohol use disorder and determine the level of alcohol dependence.

Other potential causes of tremors, such as essential tremors, Parkinson's disease, or medication side effects, are considered nil; further evaluation is necessary.

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What Makes Alcohol Shakes Worse?

These abrupt shakes can cause concerns that are severe for individuals experiencing them. The severity of alcohol shakes can vary depending on the individual and their level of alcohol dependence. Multiple factors contribute to worsening alcohol shakes:

Alcohol Withdrawal

Stopping or reducing heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption abruptly can trigger alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including tremors. The withdrawal phase, typically within 6 to 48 hours after the last drink, can intensify the severity of alcohol shakes.

Alcohol Dependence

Individuals with significant alcohol dependence are more prone to experiencing severe alcohol shakes. Chronic and heavy alcohol use can alter the brain's chemistry. When alcohol intake is suddenly reduced or stopped, it can disrupt the normal functioning of the nervous system, leading to tremors.

Co-Occurring Medical Conditions

Other medical conditions that coincide with alcohol abuse can exacerbate alcohol shakes. For instance, individuals with liver disease or nutritional deficiencies resulting from alcohol abuse may experience more severe tremors. These conditions further impair the body's ability to regulate and maintain normal nervous system function.

Individual Factors

The severity of alcohol shakes can vary among individuals due to various factors. Overall health, genetic predisposition, age, and the duration and intensity of alcohol use can all influence the extent of alcohol shakes experienced during withdrawal.

Shakes From Alcohol Is a Sign of a Bigger Problem

In conclusion, individuals experiencing alcohol shakes should recognize the symptoms and understand the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Promoting responsible drinking habits and seeking medical supervision is crucial in treating and managing alcohol shakes. Reducing alcohol consumption, utilizing prescribed medications, participating in detoxification programs, receiving psychological support, and adopting a healthy lifestyle are essential to managing alcohol shakes effectively.

Alcohol shakes can have short-term and long-term effects, including physical discomfort, anxiety, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment, emotional instability, neurological damage, social consequences, and an increased risk of relapse. Taking proactive measures before and after experiencing alcohol shakes, such as building a support network and following treatment recommendations, can help prevent their occurrence, support recovery, and improve overall well-being.

A comprehensive approach allows doctors to accurately diagnose alcohol shakes and provide appropriate treatment. It empowers individuals to take control of their recovery journey, improve their well-being, and reduce the risk of long-term complications associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

Individuals should be aware of the factors that exacerbate alcohol shakes, such as abruptly stopping alcohol consumption, having alcohol dependence, experiencing co-occurring medical conditions, and having individual factors that contribute to the severity of the shakes.

Understanding these factors helps individuals make informed decisions and take proactive steps toward recovery. By seeking medical help, following the recommended treatment, and making necessary lifestyle changes, individuals can actively manage alcohol shakes and work towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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Worried About Shakes From Alcohol? The Edge Treatment Center Will Help

The Edge Treatment Center knows that alcohol shakes are a sign of a dangerous problem with alcohol. Our drug rehab provides expert, evidence-based treatment for alcohol addiction, dual diagnosis, and mental health disorders. Guided by a trauma-informed philosophy, our drug rehab is a safe, serene space to explore the roots of alcohol addiction and treat them effectively.

If you’d like to learn more about our successful, proven alcohol addiction treatment program, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.