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April 8, 2023

Are Alcohol Withdrawal Tremors Normal?

Alcohol withdrawal tremors are among a variety of unpleasant symptoms that may occur when a person who has become addicted to alcohol abruptly stops drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be extremely difficult – and in some cases, it can also be dangerous. But when you get proper professional help, you can complete this process with your health intact and take an important step toward an alcohol-free future.

What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Tremors?

When you struggle with alcohol addiction, your body adapts to the presence of this drug in your system. This is why, as your addiction progresses, you will find that you need to drink more in order to experience the effects that you previously achieved much quicker. (This is known as developing tolerance.)

The way your body adapts to the presence of alcohol also affects what happens to you when you try to quit drinking, or when you are prevented from acquiring and using alcohol. In these circumstances, your body may react with a variety of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms. This is known as withdrawal. 

Shakiness or trembling – which are also referred to as alcohol withdrawal tremors – are common symptoms among people who are trying to quit drinking after an extended period of compulsive alcohol use. Depending on the nature and severity of your past alcohol abuse, you may begin to experience alcohol withdrawal tremors within six to 12 hours after your last drink. 

Though alcohol withdrawal tremors are fairly common, they can vary significantly from one person to the next. Some people have moderate tremors, some have more severe shaking, and some don’t experience any alcohol withdrawal tremors at all.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Even if you don’t experience alcohol withdrawal tremors, the process of ridding your body of alcohol can still be quite distressing. The following are examples of other common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Anxiety, agitation, and irritability
  • Depression
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Powerful headaches

In severe cases, people who have been drinking heavily for an extended period of time may experience a condition that’s known as delirium tremens (or the DTs).  

It is important to understand the DTs are not the same thing as alcohol withdrawal tremors. The DTs are a potentially life-threatening set of symptoms that can include:

  • Dangerously elevated heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Severe disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizure

The DTs typically begin about 48 hours after a person’s last drink, and they can last for as long as five days. According to an August 2022 article, experts estimate that 37% of people who develop the DTs would die if they didn’t receive effective treatment. 

The Benefits of Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal Tremors

As we noted earlier, alcohol withdrawal tremors and other common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be sources of considerable distress, especially when a person tries to get through this experience without seeking professional care. 

However, when a person enters a detoxification, or detox, program, they can complete alcohol withdrawal safely and with minimized discomfort.

Here are a few of the many beneficial features of detox:

  • Alcohol-free environment: If you try to get through alcohol withdrawal on your own, the tremors, cravings, and other symptoms can quickly become overwhelming. If you have easy access to alcohol, it may be virtually impossible to suppress your urges and endure the distress that you know can be alleviated by drinking again. While you’re in detox, that temptation will be removed.
  • Experienced professionals: The pain of alcohol withdrawal can be exacerbated by fear of the unknown. How bad will your symptoms become? How long will they last? Can these symptoms jeopardize your health or even endanger your life? When you’re in detox, you will be under the care of experienced professionals who are familiar with all aspects of the recovery process and prepared for any contingency that may arrive.
  • Medication and therapy: Depending on the nature and severity of your alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the detox professionals who care for you may provide both medical and therapeutic support. Certain prescription medications can keep you safe and ease some symptoms. Various forms of therapy can help you manage other symptoms and prepare for successful, long-term recovery. 
  • Success and hope: When you are in the depths of untreated addiction, you may begin to believe that you are beyond help. Completing detox can be a significant accomplishment. It can also be evidence that you are capable of more than you may have realized. The sense of success and hope that you experience when you complete a detoxification program can be a source of both inspiration and motivation as you work to progress in your recovery. 

Find Help for Alcohol Addiction in Atlanta, GA

If you have been struggling with an addiction to alcohol, Inner Voyage Recovery Center is here to help. Our alcoholism treatment center near Atlanta, Georgia, provides life-changing detox services as well as multiple levels of outpatient care. Every step of the way, you can expect to receive customized care and comprehensive support from a team of dedicated professionals. Don’t let untreated alcoholism rob you of one more day. To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule your free assessment, visit our admissions page or call us today.

If you or someone you know needs any of our services

Please call us at 470-863-8259

Author

  • Emily Rowe, LMSW

    Emily Rowe is the Clinical Director at Inner Voyage Recovery Center. She is a Licensed Master of Social Work with 8 years of experience in clinical settings covering one on one sessions, family sessions, group sessions, crisis interventions and suicidal prevention. Recognized by leadership and colleagues as forward thinking, creative, empathetic, active listener and effective.