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What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Like most people, you probably enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage. Whether it's a glass of wine with dinner or a couple of beers while watching the game, alcohol can be an enjoyable way to relax and socialize.

However, many people struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction. If you're one of these individuals, you may have decided that it's time to quit drinking.

Timeline: What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

If you're ready to give up alcohol, here is a timeline of what you can expect regarding your mental and physical health when you stop drinking:

  • After One Day: The first day is always the hardest, but it's also an important milestone. After 24 hours without alcohol, your body will start detoxifying, and you may experience withdrawal symptoms. It's important to remember that they are only temporary and will usually subside within a few days. For individuals with severe alcohol dependence, however, withdrawal symptoms can be more powerful and may require medical attention.

  • After Three Days: You will likely start to feel more like yourself after three days. However, individuals drinking heavily for extended periods may experience withdrawal symptoms and hallucinate or have delirium tremens (DTs). You must talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your symptoms.

  • After One Week: After one week without alcohol, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease will start to decrease. This is because alcohol can increase your blood pressure and make your heart work harder. In the coming weeks, your liver will also begin to repair itself.

  • After One Month: A month of being alcohol-free is a significant accomplishment, and this is usually when people start to feel their best after giving up alcohol. By this point, most physical withdrawal symptoms should have subsided, and you should begin to feel less anxious and more positive.

  • After Six Months: After half a year without drinking, you will start to reap the rewards. Your risk of developing cancer will decrease, and your liver function will significantly improve. You'll also have more energy and stamina, and you may notice that your skin looks healthier.

  • After One Year: Congrats on making it to 12 months! At this point, your risk of developing all types of disease will be reduced, and your bone density will start to increase. Remember that everyone is different and will experience different things when they stop drinking.

While giving up alcohol can be challenging, it's important to remember that the benefits are well worth it.

Other Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Here are some of the most common effects of giving up alcohol.

  1. Your body starts to detox. When you first stop drinking, your body will begin to detoxify itself. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, tremors, sweating, and nausea.

  2. You may have trouble sleeping. One of the most common side effects of giving up alcohol is insomnia. This is because alcohol acts as a sedative, so when it's no longer in your system, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

  3. Your appetite may change. Drinking alcohol, even in moderate amounts, can result in obesity. So, you may have fewer food cravings when you stop drinking.

  4. You may feel irritable or anxious. Feeling anxious or irritable when you first give up alcohol is typical. This is because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so your body has to adjust to the change when it's no longer in your system.

  5. You may have mood swings. Along with anxiety and irritability, you may also experience mood swings when you give up alcohol.

  6. Your liver will start to repair itself. Alcohol is a toxin that can damage your liver. However, when you stop drinking, your liver will repair itself, and the damage will start to reverse.

  7. Your risk of developing certain diseases will decrease. If you're a heavy drinker, you're at an increased risk of developing certain diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. However, your risk of developing these diseases decreases when you stop drinking.

  8. Your skin may improve. One of the surprising side effects of giving up alcohol is that your skin may start to look better. This is because alcohol can cause dehydration and dry, dull skin. So, giving up alcohol can help your skin to look more hydrated and glowing.

  9. You may have more energy. Once the initial symptoms of withdrawal have subsided, you may find that you have more energy than you did before you stopped drinking. This is because alcohol is a depressant, so your body has more energy to work with when it's no longer in your system.

  10. You may think more clearly. Another benefit of giving up alcohol is that your mind may be clearer. This is because alcohol can cause brain chemistry changes, leading to cognitive problems.

  11. You may feel happier. One of the best things about giving up alcohol is that you may feel happier overall. This is because alcohol can cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

  12. You may have more money. One of the financial benefits of giving up alcohol is that you'll likely have more money to spend. This is because alcohol is a costly habit, so giving it up can free up some extra cash.

  13. You may live longer. One of the most significant benefits of giving up alcohol is that you may increase your lifespan. This is because alcohol abuse can lead to serious health problems like liver disease and cancer. So, giving up alcohol can help you to avoid these potentially deadly diseases.

  14. You may feel more productive. One of the unexpected benefits of giving up alcohol is that you may find yourself more productive than before. This is because alcohol can cause fatigue and decreased motivation, so when you stop drinking, you may find it easier to get things done.

  15. You may have better relationships. Alcohol can cause problems in relationships, such as conflicts, communication problems, and trust issues. So, giving up alcohol may help improve your relationships with friends and family.

Note From Another Solution

There are many benefits to giving up alcohol, both short-term and long-term. If you're considering quitting drinking, these benefits may be just what you need to help you decide. Of course, giving up alcohol is not always easy, and there may be some challenges. But if you're committed to sobriety, it's definitely possible to achieve your goal.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact Another Solution. We have been helping individuals and families challenged by addictions for 25 years. We provide thorough clinical evaluations and assessments, leaving no stone unturned, allowing us to identify and address every element of addiction needing treatment.


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Courtesy of: Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA. The author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."

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