Alcohol and hand tremors, also known as alcohol shakes, are common signs of alcohol withdrawal.

In this article, we discuss the common causes and symptoms of hand tremors in more detail, as well as provide advice on what you can do if you or someone you care about is experiencing hand tremors.


What are Hand Tremors?

Hand tremors are involuntary shaking or trembling of the hand that an individual has no control over. It can occur for a variety of reasons, including alcohol withdrawal and some health conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease.

Tremors are caused within the nervous system and can occur all over the body. Hand tremors typically occur when someone is trying to do a simple task such as writing, picking up a glass or even tying shoelaces.


How Does Alcohol Affect Hand Tremors?

One of the most common causes of hand tremors is alcohol withdrawal. This is because alcohol is classed as a depressant. 

When it is ingested, it slows down some of the functions of the brain and interferes with the brain’s mood-regulating chemicals. Over time, and after heavy drinking, the brain becomes accustomed to a lower level of stimulation.

When heavy drinkers stop drinking alcohol, and the level of alcohol in the body begins to reduce, the brain is flooded with chemical messengers and activity. 

This causes hyperactivity within the nervous system which is the main cause of alcohol shakes or tremors. These can occur as quickly as eight hours after someone has stopped drinking. Put simply – alcohol tremors occur because the body is so used to having alcohol in its system and is trying to function without it.

You don’t have to be addicted to alcohol to suffer from alcohol shakes. Drinking a large amount of alcohol, such as binge drinking, can result in alcohol tremors the next day. Depending on how much alcohol you have consumed, you may feel your hands shaking or even your whole body shaking.

However, if you are regularly experiencing hand tremors as well as other alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, sickness and headaches, this could be a sign that you are suffering from alcohol addiction and may require professional treatment.


Other Causes of Hand Tremors

Alcohol isn’t the only cause of hand tremors, and in some cases, it is completely normal to have a slight hand tremor, known as essential tremor. 

Many people will experience a slight tremor when they hold out their hands or arms in front of them. As you get older, you may notice that your hand tremors become more noticeable, and this, again, is normal. Stress, lack of sleep, too much caffeine and your body temperature can also cause hand tremors.

There are also certain medications and health conditions, including Parkinson’s Disease, that result in handshakes.


Symptoms of Hand Tremors

Hand tremors typically begin gradually, in one hand, and then begin to affect the other hand. They can worsen with movement and may be aggravated by feelings of stress, tiredness, caffeine and even temperature changes. It feels like you cannot control your hands, and the shaking may move up your arms, or across the whole body.

While not life-threatening, symptoms can worsen over time and can make a number of day-to-day activities difficult to carry out. This includes holding a drink without spilling it, eating without shaking, shaving, writing and putting on makeup. This can have a significant impact on the way that someone feels about themselves.


Treatment Options for Managing Hand Tremors

There are a variety of treatment options for hand tremors, including medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. 

If hand tremors are making it difficult for you to carry out your day-to-day responsibilities, you should speak to your GP about the available options. They may be able to prescribe medication for hand tremors, such as beta blockers and anti-seizure medications to balance out the nervous system.

Physical therapy for hand tremors can also help you to improve your muscle strength, coordination and control. 

This includes using wrist weights and exercises to build up the hands and reduce the shakes. A therapist may also advise you to use heavier glasses and utensils as well as heavier pens to help prevent the tremor from impacting your drinking, cooking and writing.

Hand tremors are also caused by stress and anxiety, so your GP may recommend some activities to boost your overall mental and physical health. This includes regular exercise, yoga, meditation and acupuncture.


If your hand tremors are caused by alcohol consumption, the best way to stop them from happening is to seek professional support and advice about reducing your alcohol consumption. It’s important to meet with a GP or enlist the help of addiction recovery experts like the team at Nova Recovery so that you can be guided towards the most effective and safest recovery.

Alcohol addiction can have serious consequences on your health, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. This is because the body is so used to functioning with alcohol. The detox process usually lasts about 7-10 days, and it can be very challenging to overcome alone. By seeking support from an expert team, at a residential rehab, however, you will be guided throughout the process and prescribed any medication to ease side effects.


Start Your Journey with Nova Recovery

At Nova Recovery, we not only provide a medically-assisted detox, but we have treatment programmes of up to 28 days that can help individuals to recover from alcohol addiction.

This includes group and individual therapy as well as well-being activities to help you to identify your addiction triggers, and any unhealthy behaviours and learn coping mechanisms and strategies to stay recovered and resilient in the outside world. We can also support the treatment of alcohol-related hand tremors and help you to get your life back on track. 

If you have any questions about the treatment available at Nova Recovery or perhaps want to kickstart your recovery journey, contact our friendly team today.

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John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 8, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.