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With excessive alcohol intake come various health issues. Many withdrawal patients experience severe symptoms that can be fatal for themselves and have more profound social impacts – for example, delirium tremens. 

Tremors that may occur due to too much alcohol consumption are a rhythmic contraction of muscle, causing shaky movements.

It is an involuntary activity that an individual can’t control. Chronic alcohol consumers usually experience these shakes or tremors if they lessen the amount of alcohol they typically drink.

One of the most common, frequent, and unpleasant effects is a hangover from those who drink to intoxication. However, it is expected, not scientifically understood well. However, people do experience hangovers differently.

Experiencing hangover shakes and tremors or any other hangover symptoms can be not only uncomfortable but also affect your functioning. Seek help from our experts at Help4Addiction today. You can call us at 0203 955 7700 and consult counsellors for yourself or your loved one.

What Is The Difference Between Hangover And Alcohol Withdrawal?

The hangover is a state that occurs after a night of drinking alcohol (or a day!). Hangovers may include physical symptoms such as thirst, redness of the eyes, headache, fatigue, muscle ache, and increased sensitivity to sound and light.

In addition to physical symptoms, hangovers are also characterised by mental symptoms and hyperactive sympathetic nervous system symptoms. Increased sympathetic nervous system activity signs include rapid heartbeat, high systolic blood pressure, sweating, and tremor.

Moreover, some mental symptoms that one may experience after alcohol consumption are dizziness, cognitive disturbances, mood disturbances, anxiety, irritability, and vertigo.

Although these symptoms are associated with hangovers, the intensity and the type of symptoms that people experience may vary. Furthermore, a person’s experiences also depend on the amount and type of alcohol consumed.

Some people may consider a hangover a form of alcohol withdrawal, but there are some differences between the two. However, according to some studies, a hangover is a mild manifestation of withdrawal.

A hangover occurs after a single episode of alcohol abuse, and withdrawal, on the other hand, occurs after repeated bouts. Another difference between alcohol withdrawal and hangover is the period of impairment.

For instance, a hangover persists for a few hours after consumption compared to several days of alcohol withdrawal. Moreover, alcohol withdrawal includes hallucinations and seizures, which a hangover doesn’t.

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Tremor And Alcohol Withdrawal

Tremor is a major symptom of alcohol withdrawal. According to a 2018 study mentioned in the professional journal Alcoholism, 21.5% of people experiencing alcohol withdrawal had tremors.

Moreover, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 describes tremors or shakes as alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol tremors may include tremors of the tongue, hands, eyelids, or whole-body tremors. These tremors or hangovers usually shakes manifest within hours after you stop drinking alcohol. They can last between three and seven days.

Some may experience severe tremors after excessive drinking, especially in the morning. This level of severity occurs due to a drop in blood alcohol concentration. 

What Causes Alcohol Shakes?

People who drink alcohol have many nutritional and metabolic disturbances. Previous studies suggested many mechanisms that manifest the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

However, new evidence indicates that interruption in the constant exposure of alcohol to CNS results in withdrawal symptoms. Hence, withdrawal is caused by abstinence of alcohol in alcohol-dependent people or due to insufficient intake of alcohol.

Different parts of our body communicate through the transmission of nerve signals between neurons through neurotransmitters. When a neurotransmitter interacts with receptors, chemical and electrical reactions are triggered in the receiving neuron.

And depending on the type of neurotransmitters, the signal-receiving neuron is either activated or inhibited.

For instance, Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that stimulates another neuron, and GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that inhibits the neuron. And for the normal functioning of an individual, a balance is maintained between these two influences under normal conditions.

When you drink alcohol, it works as a depressant by enhancing the activity of GABA receptors, thus suppressing neuronal activity.

And when you consume alcohol regularly for a long time, the receptors of GABA neurotransmitters become less responsive. And to reach the same level of suppression, the body then requires more alcohol. This is referred to as tolerance.

In such a system, when the person abstains from alcohol or doesn’t take the amount required, the GABA receptors become less responsive. This means that glutamate receptors increase in number. An increase in the number of glutamate receptors then results in enhanced excitatory neurotransmission.

Removing alcohol from the body causes CNS and the sympathetic nervous system to remain in an overdrive state. This hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system causes alcohol shakes or tremors, which are also observed in hangovers.

Treatment for Hangover Shakes

Many treatments help prevent a hangover and reduce its severity and duration. Firstly, pay attention to the quantity and quality of alcohol you’re drinking. People who drink small amounts of alcohol are less likely to develop hangovers. Likewise, the type of alcohol you consume can also affect the symptoms of a hangover. 

Some interventions are not systematically studied but are known to reduce the intensity of a hangover. These recommendations include:

  • Consumption of fruit juices, fruits, or fructose-containing food
  • Consuming bland foods with complex carbohydrates helps to balance low blood sugar levels
  • Adequate sleep reduces fatigue due to sleep deprivation
  • Drinking non-alcoholic beverages may reduce dehydration

Some other ideas include:

  • Yoga or meditation
  • Establishing positive connections with people
  • Reading
  • Starting a hobby

Some people will drink alcohol to relieve these symptoms – commonly referred to as ‘hair of the dog’. However, this does not prevent a hangover. 

The severity, duration and frequency of your hangover shakes could signify alcohol dependence. Contact us to treat alcohol dependence today. 

Alcohol Detox

In addition to medications, another treatment strategy that reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms and alcohol dependence is alcohol detoxification.

The safest way to detox from alcohol is to undergo a treatment programme under the guidance of medical professionals. The care unit staff will determine the duration and intensity of your individualised programme and will monitor the symptoms closely.


People usually don’t seek treatment for hangover shakes and tremors until they hinder normal functioning. The severity of hangovers can vary from person to person.

Although shaking after drinking a lot may be considered a normal hangover symptom, it can result from brain damage or other severe conditions. We recommend that you contact a professional for the proper diagnosis of the issue.

If tremors are due to alcohol, drink alcohol in moderate amounts and practice recommendations to prevent hangovers. Moreover, treatment is essential for reducing alcohol dependence and the long-term effects of alcohol withdrawal.

For free consultation and treatment, professionals at Help4Addiction are at your service 24/7. Call us at 0203 955 7700 and start your journey to betterment now. We are here to help you overcome your substance abuse issues and source the best addiction treatment for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Although tremor is a symptom of alcohol withdrawal and dependence, it can be due to other medical conditions. Besides alcohol withdrawal, some other conditions that cause tremors include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, low blood sugar, stress, certain medications, smoking, lack of vitamin B12, Pheochromocytoma, liver disorder, and neurological disorders.

To reduce the symptoms of hangovers and alcohol withdrawal, people often drink some more of it. Drinking more, however, doesn’t help with the symptoms of withdrawal. Doctors recommend not drinking any more alcohol for at least 48 hours after the consumption of alcohol. This will give your body some time to recover.

You can stop hangover shakes and tremors by staying hydrated, eating a nutritious diet, having a night of adequate sleep, exercising, practising stress management techniques, and continuing your recovery programme.

As tremors are a symptom of both the hangover and alcohol withdrawal, these may stop within a few days or may persist longer in case of alcohol withdrawal. Also, one may reduce the duration, frequency, and intensity of symptoms by specific remedies and medications.

Alcohol working as a depressant causes an imbalance in the excitatory and inhibitory neuronal activity. Due to regular drinking, alcohol enhances the activity of GABA receptors. And to counteract this effect, the number of Glutamate (excitatory neurotransmitter) receptors is increased.

To make the risks from alcohol to a minimum level, one must follow moderate drinking guidelines. According to the guidelines, regularly, men and women should not drink more than 14 units per week.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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