Have you ever awakened to find your hands shaky after drinking? This condition is known as hangover shakes. If you’ve experienced shakes repeatedly, your body might be telling you that it’s time for a change.

What Are Hangover Shakes?

The term refers to the shaking feeling people experience after drinking a lot of alcohol. It could last a day or two, and each person feels the shaking in different parts of their body. The most common places to feel shaky are in your hands or feet, but some people have reported the shakes in other areas such as in major limbs, their face or their eyes.

If you’ve never experienced hangover shakes before, you may be alarmed at what’s happening. People with severe shakes might even think they’re experiencing a neurological condition. The good news is that the shaking will pass and you won’t need to worry about it in the future if you cut back on your drinking. Hangover shakes are your brain’s way of telling you you’ve been drinking too much.

Why Do I Shake After Drinking?

When you drink alcohol, a lot of things begin to happen to your body and brain. Studies have revealed that alcohol use can have an impact on your gastrointestinal system, cognitive function, liver health and sleep patterns. When you begin to feel sedated due to overconsumption of alcohol, your brain responds by releasing chemicals to keep you more alert.

In addition to making it difficult for you to get restorative sleep for the next day or two, the release of these chemicals has the unintended consequence of creating a neurotransmitter imbalance in your brain. When you sober up, you begin to feel the effects of this imbalance more distinctly, such as shaking after drinking.

Hangovers are commonly associated with headaches, tiredness, sweating and upset stomach. Some hangovers might cause vomiting and loss of appetite. The shakes are another hangover symptom that fewer people are aware of because it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. It’s also more common if you’ve consumed too much alcohol repeatedly.

Without any special treatment, you shouldn’t feel the tremors any longer after two days of sobriety.

How Alcohol Affects Shaking

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can slow the transmission of chemicals in the brain responsible for motor function, speech, decision-making and recalling events. This is why people with a higher blood-alcohol concentration have slower reaction times, slur their speech and have aggressive mood swings. When your brain detects a neurotransmitter imbalance, it tries to correct it by releasing different chemicals.

The chemicals your brain releases make your body more excitable and reactive. This is to improve your cognitive functions, keep you alert and improve your reaction time to things around you. The problem is that once the alcohol leaves your blood, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, so you may experience tremors and shakes in various areas of your body.

Anyone can experience hangover shakes, but people who drink frequently are much more likely to encounter this phenomenon. Your brain is attempting to improve your cognitive function in the presence of alcohol, which is why alcoholics might seem like normally functioning adults despite their excessive drinking. When someone makes the decision to become sober, their body has to adapt to the lack of alcohol in the blood before cognitive function returns to normal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol can be an addictive substance. There are two types of addiction someone may experience from repeated drinking:

  • Psychological dependence is the mental need to maintain the routines of drinking and personal obsession with using a substance like alcohol. It can include denying having an alcohol or drug problem, social pressures related to substance use, co-occurring depression and anxiety when attempting to quit and feeling that quitting is impossible.
  • Physical dependence is the biological response to an addiction and how the body reacts to sudden chemical changes. It can result in serious physical symptoms that drive someone who’s addicted to a substance back into their addiction simply to alleviate the physical discomfort or pain.

Hangover shakes have been associated with alcohol withdrawal syndrome and might not be the only symptoms someone experiences when attempting to make a positive life change. People may also experience the following effects of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Increased feelings of anxiety or depression when they attempt to quit drinking
  • A racing heartbeat, rapid breathing and excessive sweating
  • Upset stomach, vomiting and decreased appetite
  • An inability to remain still, poor sleep patterns and hypervigilance
  • Poor motor function while their body detoxes from alcohol

Some people have greater success handling alcohol withdrawal on their own than others. There’s no shame in needing medical assistance to overcome serious withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on coping mechanisms and activities that reduce your chance of returning to alcohol in the future.

When Should You Be Concerned?

While most alcohol withdrawals aren’t life-threatening, some people may experience a condition called delirium tremens. In addition to the withdrawal symptoms already mentioned, they may also experience the following:

If you begin to experience any of these symptoms during an alcohol withdrawal, seek medical attention immediately. People with delirium tremens may not be able to complete their alcohol detox on their own and should be monitored by medical professionals as their bodies adjust to a lack of alcohol. If not treated promptly, delirium tremens can be fatal.

If you notice someone exhibiting these symptoms along with intense mood swings or anger, getting them to a hospital quickly may save their life.

How to Get Rid of Shakes After Drinking

If you’re waking up with hangover shakes on a routine basis, it might be time to evaluate whether it’s time for a change in your life. Sunlight Recovery understands how difficult it can be to make the transition to a clean, sober life, but we want you to experience the joy of knowing you’re in full control of your destiny. Call us today at (888) 402-3647 or fill out our contact form and someone will reach out.