You’d think alcohol and shaking had to do with dancing, but that’s not always the case.
If you’ve ever experienced uncontrollable shivers or tremors after downing a few alcoholic drinks, then you may understand what we’re talking about. Today, we’re going to answer a common question among many drinkers: why do I shake when I drink alcohol?
Why Do I Shake After Drinking Alcohol?
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, slowing down nerve activity in the brain and mood-regulating neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. When you drink alcohol, the body responds by decreasing the sensitivity of receptors that bind to GABA and increasing the sensitivity of receptors that bind to glutamate.
While GABA inhibits nerve activity or communication, glutamate contributes to responses to stress, such as sweating, increased heart rate, and shakes or tremors. When someone drinks heavily for long periods, the brain becomes accustomed to being in a constant state of sedation and to this chemical imbalance.
As alcohol leaves the body of a heavy drinker, GABA communication remains low, and glutamate communication remains high, flooding the brain with more activity than it’s used to and causing the nervous system to become hyperactive. As a result, you may experience uncontrollable shaking after drinking.
Shaking from drinking alcohol can happen as soon as eight hours after your last drink. The severity of these symptoms depends greatly on the amount of alcohol you consume and how often you drink.
For people who engage in heavy drinking frequently (15 drinks or more per week for men and 8 drinks or more per week for women), shaking after drinking alcohol is a common side effect. What’s more, even if you don’t consider yourself an alcoholic, experiencing tremors from alcohol consumption can indicate tolerance and physical dependence, and thus a more serious problem.
Shaking when drinking alcohol can also occur as a result of binge drinking, which is when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol within two hours. Binge drinking can cause “hangover shakes,” and you may feel your hands or your whole body tremor, depending on how much alcohol you consumed.
Is Shaking a Sign of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Yes, shaking is also a common sign of alcohol withdrawal, a condition that occurs when the body is struggling to adjust to a lack of alcohol and the sudden increase in nerve activity in the central nervous system. Like we mentioned before, the brain can become accustomed to alcohol when you drink heavily for long periods.
This is otherwise referred to as alcohol dependence. When someone is physically dependent on alcohol, and they reduce their drinking or cut it off completely, the body struggles to adjust to the sudden lack of it and the changes in chemical levels.
This can result in uncomfortable symptoms like shaking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms - shaking included – are indicators of physical dependence on alcohol, which is often an early sign of addiction.
If you find yourself drinking more frequently than usual or experiencing shakes and other withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, seek out the help of a medical professional right away.
Getting Help for Alcoholism
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why do I shake when I drink alcohol?” then you may have a more serious problem on your hands. If you’re struggling to control how much you drink, feel a compulsive urge to drink, or find yourself consuming alcohol despite the repercussions it’s having on your life, then you might have an addiction.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that can gradually become worse if you don’t seek professional care.
When it comes to treating alcoholism at our Pompano rehab center, we ensure that our patients have everything they need to recover comfortably.
From a partial hospitalization program to outpatient treatment options to help clients slowly transition back to an addiction-free life, our team is there at every step of the process. If you or someone you know has an alcohol or drug problem, addiction specialists at Banyan Treatment Centers are here to help.
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.