How Long Do Alcohol Shakes Last
Long, sleepless nights. Drifting in and out of consciousness in fits of confusion. Waking up drenched in sweat, someone who suffers from alcoholism understands the horror of reaching frantically for a bottle to stop the unease of alcohol withdrawal. They keep a bottle of vodka under the bed, hidden in drawers, the garage, or any other place a bottle could be kept. In these moments, nothing matters more than stopping the pain with a couple of swigs of booze.
Before the drink, the hand can’t stop shaking, making it difficult even to take a drink. They may be hearing or seeing things that aren’t there. Vomiting becomes a regular occurrence. This is the normal life of someone severely dependent on alcohol. This is life with DTs (delirium tremens).
About 5% of people who withdraw from alcohol will experience hand shakiness, seizures, or delirium (impaired cognition and hallucinations), or a combination of these symptoms. These are life-threatening medical conditions.
If someone is afraid that abstaining from alcohol may result in these extreme withdrawal symptoms, medical supervision is necessary. There is no shame in seeking professional medical assistance to quit drinking. It is a brave and courageous decision that will improve the quality of life for the drinker and the family.
Alcoholism and Withdrawal
Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is responsible for an estimated 88,000 deaths every year in America. Alcohol-related deaths account for the third most deaths by preventable disease. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. It enhances neurotransmitters that govern inhibition and simultaneously flooding neurotransmitters that lead to increased excitement. This is the scientific description for feeling drunk.
In America, over 20% of men and 10% of women will develop an AUD at some point in their lives. Someone is diagnosed with AUD if they experience alcohol-related problems in at least two of the eleven categories as outlined in the DSM-V. AUD shortens life-expectancy by at least 10 years, and people with alcoholism experience devastating health impairments and social isolation.
More than 16 million people in America suffer from AUD. Withdrawal can begin in as little as 8 hours from the last drink and can last for more than 8 days. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to severe, and they can result in death. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Shaky hands
Withdrawal symptoms are physical signs of untreated AUD. Aside from these, other physical signs of AUD range from swelling in the legs, jaundice or yellowing skin, itchy skin, bloody vomit or stools, and loss of alcohol tolerance. If you or a loved one is experiencing one or more of these physical signs of withdrawal or alcohol dependency, help is available. Medically supervised detox is the best place to begin the journey towards alcohol recovery and treatment.
Alcohol Shakes and Delirium Tremens
Delirium tremens was first linked to alcohol withdrawal in 1813. DTs occur in as little as 48 hours after someone’s last drink and can last for five days. Without medical treatment, over 35% of people going through DTs alone are expected to die.
At home, alcohol is the only solution to ward off alcoholic tremens, delirium, or seizures. Unfortunately, when someone’s alcoholism has gotten this bad, drinking continues to make them more dependent on alcohol while temporarily relieving withdrawal symptoms. Death and long-term health complications can result from the seizures, and stories of people falling and dying during alcohol delirium tremens have been documented.
Someone is at higher risk for DTs if they have experienced alcohol withdrawal previously, have a prior history of seizures, have concurrent illnesses, have detoxed from alcohol before, and have the time since the last drink. It is important when deciding to detox from alcohol that a doctor is given the trust needed to ensure a safe detoxification process.
Quitting alcohol is one of the most challenging habits to cut out of someone’s life. Alcohol is everywhere. From walking through grocery store aisles to having a romantic dinner in a restaurant, alcohol is everywhere even when it’s being avoided. Drinking booze is as American, in many ways, as apple pie and football. Sometimes, even regular drinkers can feel like they’ve been drinking too much. Besides the day-after hangover, most drinkers will never experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
The most feared symptom of alcohol withdrawal are the shakes and delirium tremens. When a person has become addicted to alcohol, drinking becomes more important than family, friends, jobs, and health. When drinking becomes seemingly impossible to quit, hope may be right around the corner. If you or a loved one wants to stop drinking, or fears they are physically dependent on alcohol, the recovery experts at Boardwalk Recovery are eager to answer any questions or concerns you may have.