Alcoholism: What are the “Shakes” like? –
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Alcoholism: What are the “Shakes” like?

Addiction Alcohol alcoholic Alcoholism binge Confessions Delirium Tremens drinks DT hangover Medical night terrors recovery shakes

We all know that feeling of needing air, right? For example, being under water for an extended amount of time, than finally being able to come up and be relieved and get some oxygen? It’s a great feeling. Why did I start my story off with this example? I tried to come up with the perfect analogy for my drinking experiences in the morning. When I would wake up in the morning time, and I would search madly for that missing bottle, and once I found it and was able to take a HUGE GULP out of it, bang, it was like oxygen! I could come up with many different scenarios where alcohol was like oxygen, it’s just the morning time was the most obvious. It wasn’t always like this though. This particular scenario signifies the progression of my disease, and not all people who suffer from alcoholic tendencies will experience this. Alcoholism is not defined on how much one person drinks in one sitting, but the reasoning on why they are drinking. Also for one to be labeled an alcoholic, can this certain person control the amount of liquor they’re consuming, and if they can’t, are there implications directly associated with his/her drinking? These are questions you may want to ask yourself.

Now enough of the qualifying questions. What did all of these lead to? I’m going to focus purely on the “shakes” associated with my drinking. And those of you that know what the shakes are about, they are absolutely brutal. But first off, what are the shakes? And why do excessive drinkers get them? First and foremost, we all know what hangovers are? In a nutshell this is where the body is healing itself from the damage we put on ourselves the night/morning prior. In essence, hangovers can be from mild to severe, with an array of symptoms such as, sweating, headache, shaking, anxiety, depression, etc. typical symptoms of a night of partying.

Many individuals can go on with their day with these hangovers with no issue what so ever. This would be associated with the normal, temperate drinker, but what about Delirium Tremens (DT’S), or severe alcohol withdrawals? Don’t confuse these with hangovers, because these are not hangovers. This is usually associated with heavy drinking and or binge drinking for an extended period of time, and then stopping abruptly, usually in someone suffering from alcoholism.


I first experienced hangovers when I started drinking back in the summer of 2003, but my illness hadn’t progressed to what it would be in the 4 years that followed. I first experienced sever withdrawals when I was roughly 22, and this was a scary moment. I already had been drinking almost every day, but one night I started shaking and just had mass confusion. I remember walking on the back porch of my house when it was 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside, with such anxiety not knowing what is going on with me.  I was sweating profusely. At first I didn’t know what caused this, than my brother said sarcastically, “you’re probably having alcohol withdrawals”. He was right. He knew how bad my drinking had been by then, unbeknownst to me, and I was blinded my addiction. I don’t remember how many days I had been drinking in a row, but it was a lot. Just writing about it still gives me chills because I knew how I felt.

So what did it feel like? It felt like I couldn’t get warm, not matter how many blankets I used. And I couldn’t stop shaking. My clothes were drenched in sweat, and my teeth kept chattering. And this was the first time I experienced this, and it definitely wouldn’t be the last. I was in literal cold sweats from the thinning of my blood, and that created me to feel like I was in an ice box, while trying to sweat the impurities in my system out.  It was comparative to running icy hot through my veins as my blood was so thin I did know what the real temperature of my body was.  It was truly and utterly dangerous, and this is why specialists say that alcohol is the most dangerous drug to detoxify off of, because you can most certainly die from the withdrawals!

Unfortunately this would be the beginning of a LONG struggle with alcohol, and the pure torture from alcoholism. This was a common occurrence for me for years. I detoxed 11 times in a hospital and many times on my own. I never had seizures from the withdrawals, but everything else I had. These DT’S also known as “night terrors” were the worst at nighttime. I couldn’t sleep nor could I stay relaxed because by body was still craving the booze that I was drinking all day and every day. It’s amazing on how insane my life was. EVERYTIME, I would get myself into one of these life-threating situations, and I would tell myself, “How did you get here again?” But as the detox symptoms would go away I would start to feel better, than my mind would ALWAYS convince me this time would be different. Just stay away from the “hard” stuff I told myself. But if your way of thinking is like mine, we have no choice in the matter. Four days later I would be shaking and detoxing yet again.

So why write an article about this? To help those in need of hearing this message. I wouldn’t wish these shakes on my worst enemy. It’s pure and utter torture. If you feel like you’re experiencing this? It may be a problem. The few shakes that alcoholics experience when were hung-over such as hands trembling may not be the BIG problem that I’m discussing. Hangovers are hangovers, but pre DT’s can definitely be a problem. It’s better to attack the problem right when we start experiencing it.

My name is Shawn and I am an alcoholic.

Sober date 8/23/12

Find me on Twitter for more on my story and addiction/alcoholism recovery:  @Shazam1985

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  • Maarius on

    Great to hear this. It’s hard and scary…

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