Why do people shake when detoxing or going off drugs?

Detoxing from drugs or alcohol generally happens soon after the discontinuation of the substance. Depending on the individual, the substance of choice and how long it has been in the body, withdrawal can vary. Common symptoms can range from dehydration to tremors.

What Is Withdrawal?

Both legal and illegal substances can create a withdrawal period. This occurs as a result of reducing or completely getting off of a substance. Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous when done without the proper care. Trained medical professionals can help by providing certain medications as well as other therapy treatments.

Withdrawal is also known as the detox period. During this time, the drug or substance that the individual is dependent on, can create physical and emotional symptoms while leaving the body.

Symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Night sweats
  • Tremors
  • Dehydration
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Etc.

Depending on the type of dependence, some of these symptoms may be worse. A common sign of drug or alcohol withdrawal that may need additional medical treatment is what is known as a delirium tremens.

What Are Tremors?

When detoxing from substance abuse, some people will experience tremors. This usually means that hands will involuntarily shake from a lack of the desired substance. Sometimes these tremors are known as delirium tremens or DTs.

DTs usually occur when a substance is immediately stopped “cold turkey”. Without using the tapering method where the drug or alcohol is moderately decreased over time, the body can wrestle with more severe symptoms.

Hand tremors can typically last up to five days and should be medically supervised as they are indicative of a serious medical issue. Common symptoms from alcohol detox can include seizures, chest pain, nausea and hallucinations. These symptoms are more likely to occur if hand tremors are also present.

Will Everyone Experience Hand Tremors During Withdrawal?

Not every individual will experience the same set of symptoms while detoxing. Some drugs, like stimulants, may have different withdrawal symptoms than opiates or alcohol. If you are experiencing drug or alcohol dependence, however, the likelihood you will experience withdrawal symptoms is high.

Hand tremors usually happen as a result of severe substance dependence. While they may not occur right away, the tremor usually will begin within the first week of detox. Hand tremors can range from mild to severe depending on the individual and the substance of choice.

Hand tremors can be embarrassing because they are a visible physical symptom. They can also impair the ability to write or perform regular functions involving specific muscle groups. While experiencing detox symptoms such as hand tremors, the ability to drive a car, sign a document or hold a soft drink can be extremely difficult.

What Causes Tremors During Detox?

Alcohol and opiates are depressants which means that the central nervous system is slowed down when they are used. Regardless if alcohol or opiates are used in a moderate or prescribed way, the substances will slow the nervous system down.

Once the brain has grown accustomed to the use of depressants, it will continue to function at this pace even when the substance is discontinued. When a depressant is suddenly discontinued after a period of drug or alcohol dependence, the process of withdrawal begins.

Tremors typically begin 48 to 96 hours after the substance has been discontinued. Along with hand tremors, heart rate may increase as well as a sense of disorientation or fatigue. Mood changes are common while going through detox. DTs may resolve in just a few days, but they are considered a serious medical symptom and they should receive medical attention.

How Are Tremors Treated?

Tremors from drug or alcohol dependence can be severe enough to prevent functional use of the hands. It may be difficult to write or hold a cup of coffee or food. In addition to DTs, the anxiety that is often felt because or accompanying it can cause many people to seek treatment.

DTs are usually treated by a doctor with medication. Benzodiazepines can be prescribed to calm anxiety which can also contribute to hand tremors. Since tremors are also associated with a high heart rate, medication for tachycardia can also be prescribed. If hand tremors are not currently present, but heavy sweating, fear or eye muscle movement problems occur, they will likely begin within a day or two. Seeking help before hand tremors start is always recommended.

Non medical treatment or additional treatment can include proper vitamins and nutrients. Regardless if medication is used or not, seeking professional care is extremely important when monitoring the detox process.

How To Get Help

Drug and alcohol detox are serious conditions. Before experiencing withdrawal, it may be helpful to have a plan in place. By planning ahead, treatment options can be discussed without the anxiety that occurs during detox.

Professional care during detox is critical for those who have been dependent on drugs or alcohol for a significant amount of time. Even those who have been using or drinking for under a year can be at risk for severe withdrawal symptoms like hand tremors or intense psychological discomfort.

By seeking professional help, hand tremors and other detox symptoms can be treated in a safe and comfortable environment for the best care available. To find out more information about treatment, please don’t hesitate to call us at 833-497-3812.