Is Shaking After Drinking Normal?

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When a person who is addicted to alcohol stops drinking, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal. A lot of people have heard joking references to someone “getting the DTs” when they first become sober. The condition is called delirium tremens and can cause serious health repercussions, including shaking after drinking. 

What Shaking After Drinking Means

A person who stops drinking alcohol after a prolonged period of being addicted to it may develop delirium tremens, commonly referred to as the DTs. It is also called alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD). 

These tremors involve involuntary shaking in one or more areas of the body. The tremors can happen consistently or intermittently.  The shaking develops due to a malfunction in the brain that control’s the body’s muscles. The malfunction is brought on by the sudden stopping of alcohol consumption.

DTs typically start anywhere from several hours to a few days after an individual’s last alcohol drink. Shaking after drinking can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week. The tremors usually peak between 24 to 72 hours after the person last consumed alcohol.

Developing DTs happens most commonly with adult males, particularly white, single, younger men. It also surfaces a lot in people who drink heavily and over a long period of time, and those who have gone through the alcohol withdrawal process before. 

Is Shaking After Drinking Dangerous?

While the majority of cases of delirium tremens do not prove to be life-threatening, they still can cause some damage and even death. Approximately 5% of people who go through alcohol detoxification will develop DTs. If a person does not seek immediate treatment for the tremors, they become at risk for a stroke, heart attack, and death.

Considerations that can factor into whether or not a person develops shaking after drinking can relate to if they have a history of having seizures. This includes having had DTs during previous alcohol withdrawal or seizures unrelated to AWD.

DTs have the potential to cause dangerous changes in a person’s breathing, blood circulation, and body temperature. These developments can result in conditions that require immediate medical attention and can be life-threatening. 

Symptoms of Having Delirium Tremens

Many symptoms can occur as part of experiencing DTs. These can include:

  • Shaking hands or feet
  • Rhythmic shaking of the body
  • Muscle tremors
  • Difficulty with eye movements
  • Problems holding and using utensils
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleepiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Passing out
  • Nightmares

What Happens if You Develop Delirium Tremens

A physician will give a person suspected of having DTs an exam and take into account their history with alcohol addiction. A doctor may perform tests related to a person’s blood magnesium and blood potassium levels, an EEG (electroencephalogram), an MRI, and a metabolic panel. 

Treatment typically happens in a hospital setting. Doctors may utilize certain medications to help a person who suffers from shaking after drinking withdrawal. Medications given to treat symptoms may include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Pain medication
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Medication that regulates the heartbeat
  • Intravenous fluids

Other Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

When a person who has struggled with alcohol addiction for a long period of time makes the brave choice to enter recovery, they often develop a concern about what the initial stages of withdrawal will be like. 

Side effects often occur, including delirium tremens, but shaking after drinking withdrawal is not the only possible one. Typical side effects independent of DTs that may occur include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Racing heart
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Intense craving for alcohol

Is Medical Supervision Important When Detoxing from Alcohol?

Due to the potentially serious and even deadly nature of DTs, a person going through alcohol withdrawal should be monitored by medical professionals. Detoxing from alcohol alone or at home without professional help can be dangerous. 

Unexpected medical symptoms may arise that require treatment. A person detoxing in a residential or hospital program will have access to round-the-clock medical care that can address tremors and other medical side effects that may occur.

In addition to difficulties related to medical issues, many emotional issues may arise during the initial stages of detoxification. Alcohol abuse often masks difficult emotions and assists a person in not thinking about past and current life situations that stress them out. 

When alcohol usage stops, emotions may come flooding to the surface. An individual who seeks withdrawal supervision in a professional treatment program will have access to ways to help ease difficult emotions. Therapists may be present and able to engage with their patients via talk therapy. Medications to help ease symptoms of anxiety, panic, and depression may also be utilized.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in California

If you deal with addiction to alcohol and don’t know where to turn for help, Launch Centers can provide the assistance you need. Our professional treatment program in Los Angeles treats alcohol and drug addiction, as well as helps people learn to manage any accompanying mental health issues. Our long-term programs offer multiple treatment options to help a person learn to navigate recovery from alcohol addiction and hit the reset button on their lives.

Contact Launch Centers now to get started on leaving alcohol addiction behind. 

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