Alcohol Tremors and Other Alcoholism Symptoms

Alcohol addiction has a profound impact on the health of millions of people. Alcohol tremors are just one of the symptoms of chronic alcoholism.

Table of Contents

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also referred to as an alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic pattern of alcohol abuse characterized by the inability to control how much or how often one drinks. Alcoholism also involves experiencing withdrawal effects if you stop drinking, along with continuing to drink despite knowing drinking is harmful to your relationships and your physical and emotional health. 1
Health professionals use the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 to assess problematic relationships with alcohol. The criteria in the DSM-5 classify alcohol use disorders into three categories based on the level of severity. Someone with a mild alcohol use disorder will generally have two or three symptoms, a moderate alcohol use disorder presents with four or five, and a severe alcohol use disorder presents with six or more. If you have two or more signs of alcoholism, you have an alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol Tremors

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Cause of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

There is no single cause of alcoholism. Studies suggest several factors could impact someone developing an AUD, including environmental, genetic, social, and psychological factors.

Potential Predictors of Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcoholism is not limited by demographic. Anyone can develop an alcohol use disorder in their lifetime. However, several potential factors can increase one’s risk of alcoholic tendencies developing into an alcohol use disorder.

Risk Factors

Factors that can contribute to a person developing an AUD include: 2
  • Age:  When someone begins drinking at an early age, especially during adolescence or as a teenager, it increases their risk of developing an alcohol use disorder in adulthood.
  • Genetics: Research indicates genetic predisposition accounts for approximately 50% of one’s alcohol addiction risk. If you have a parent with an alcohol use disorder, you may also be at a greater risk for developing alcoholism in your lifetime.
  • Environment: The remaining half of one’s alcohol addiction risk involves how genetic predisposition and environment (household, lifestyle, social circles, etc.) interact. Having other household members, friends, or significant others who drink heavily or regularly may increase your risk of alcoholism. For youth, much of this influence comes from parents or peers who drink.

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The Four Stages of Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is considered a chronic, relapsing condition. Even with effective treatment, it is still possible for someone to return to drinking in the future. One drink or even occasional heavy drinking does not make someone an alcoholic. Rather, it is important to look at alcoholism as a progressive disease. With time and without treatment, one could progress through the phases of alcoholism from pre-alcoholic to chronic alcoholism. 3

Stage 1: Pre-Alcoholic Stage

The first stage of alcoholism is called pre-alcoholism. During this stage, there is minimal visible evidence of problem drinking. This stage often involves first-time experimentation with alcohol that develops into a tolerance to its effects. As someone progresses through the early stages of alcoholism, they begin to drink heavier and more often, usually as a coping tool for stress or other mental health needs.

Stage 2: Early-Stage Alcoholism

The second stage of alcoholism is a transitional stage when drinking evolves from occasional heavy drinking to alcohol misuse. During this stage, drinking becomes more frequent and social gatherings are used as an excuse to consume alcohol.

Stage 3: Middle Alcoholic Stage

The next stage in the progression of alcoholism is the middle stage. In stage three, consistent and frequent drinking is evident. As drinking habits worsen, relationships and other obligations begin to decline. During this stage, the physical effects of heavy drinking also present.

Stage 4: End-Stage Alcoholism

Stage four alcoholism is the last of the alcoholic stages and also the most severe level of alcoholism. Upon reaching this stage, individuals have no control over their drinking and feel they must drink to feel good. Without alcohol, they experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and urges to drink.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

The progression of alcoholism looks different for everyone. Because no two people experience alcohol addiction in the same way, the signs of alcoholism often differ from person to person. Several factors unique to the person, such as the severity of their addiction, how long they have been drinking, and how often they drink, may also play a role in what alcoholic signs are visible to friends and family. Although there are several differences, there are also common warning signs of alcoholism to be aware of., including:
  • Increasing isolation from friends and family
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Drinking more often or in larger quantities than intended
  • Disregarding responsibilities and obligations in favor of drinking
  • Lying or being secretive about drinking

Physical Signs and Symptoms

In addition to common warning signs of alcoholism, there are also several physical indications someone may have an AUD. who has a high tolerance for alcohol or is dependent on alcohol due to chronic alcoholism may not present with the same alcoholic signs as someone with a low tolerance or who is at a different level of alcoholism. When someone has an alcohol addiction, physical symptoms of their illness may include: 4
  • Alcohol tremors (including hand tremors and tremors in other extremities)
  • Red or “glazed over” eyes
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Significant and rapid weight changes
  • Lack of coordination (staggering, stumbling)
  • A depressed or anxious mood that may present as aggressive behaviors

Long-Term Health Problems

Chronic alcoholism can also lead to several long-term and potentially fatal health problems, such as: 5
  • Liver disease (cirrhosis)
  • Cancers
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Brain damage
  • Pancreatitis

When Should You Be Concerned About Your Drinking?

Several factors beyond certain alcoholic tendencies or risk factors may lead someone to struggle with alcoholism or dependence to alcohol. Many characteristics of the person, such as the age of first use, genetics, biology, environment, family history, and lifestyle choices can all increase one’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later on in life. It is not uncommon for someone with a problematic relationship with alcohol to hide their drinking or deny to friends and loved ones that there is a problem.

Importance of Seeking Help

If you are worried about a loved one, it is important to watch for the warning signs and the physical signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse listed above. If you are concerned that your drinking is a problem, there is a good possibility that it could be and that you should seek help. Without help from an alcohol addiction treatment program, achieving and maintaining lasting sobriety can be challenging.

Get Help During Any Stage of Alcoholism at Profound Recovery

It is unnecessary to wait until alcohol addiction takes over your health and life to seek help. Professional treatment providers can help at any stage of alcoholism. At our Woodland Hills, California rehab center, treatment providers will use one or more evidence-based and holistic therapy models to help you address the root causes of addictive behaviors.

In addition to therapy, services such as medically assisted detox, nutritional support, comprehensive aftercare planning, and peer support (12-step) groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous provide an opportunity to learn and practice relapse prevention tools that are crucial to lasting sobriety.
Alcohol Tremors

Begin Your Path to Sobriety

Without treatment, alcohol addiction is unlikely to resolve independently. Many people who try to quit drinking cold turkey fail when alcohol withdrawal symptoms become too challenging to manage without support. Let us help. Contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more about how you or a loved one can overcome alcoholism with Profound Recovery.

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