What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Drinking

Making a conscious decision to stop drinking alcohol involves making some major changes in your life. If the social activities and hobbies you often participate in center around or typically involve alcohol, you may have to give them up or substitute them with non-alcohol-related pastimes. Overall, a sober life has a wide array of benefits, including improved physical and mental health. Quitting alcohol may even reverse some of the damage that alcohol can have on your body. Quitting alcohol is a process, and it requires intentional strategies to eliminate it from your life. Alcohol withdrawal side effects vary from person to person. Many people are hesitant to quit drinking because of the thought of experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms is scary.

Subtle physiological changes start occurring within 72 to 96 hours of no alcohol, says Johnson. The first big one most people will notice is sounder slumber, as alcohol majorly messes with sleep cycles. What you might notice is sugar or carb cravings, as your body isn’t getting the empty calories it’s used to getting from booze. “When you stop using alcohol, your sweet tooth still kicks in, so be careful of which foods and beverages you replace it with,” Johnson says. The other area where you will experience change is mentally and spiritually. Your head will clear, and the fog you’ve been living under during your drinking days will eventually lift. These will all boost your well-being, self-esteem, and immune system.

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Make it clear that drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend events where alcohol is being served. Once you’ve made the decision to change, the next step is establishing clear drinking goals. The more specific, realistic, and clear your goals, the better.

Health Risks Of Heavy Drinking

In general, the longer and more intense the alcohol use, the longer and more intense the treatment you’ll need. But regardless of the treatment program’s length in weeks or months, long-term follow-up care is crucial to your recovery. If you’ve decided to quit drinking alcohol, either for Sober October, or because you feel the time is right, there might be an expectation that after a few days you’ll feel refreshed and brand new. You’ll get a clearer head, more energy, sleep better and lose weight, right? Those things will happen, but perhaps not quite in the way you think. Instead, there is a series of stages that often make people feel worse before they feel better.

changes after stop drinking

This severe form of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens, or DTs. In addition to confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and tremors, individuals may also experience dangerously high fevers.

While some people experience very few withdrawal symptoms, others may suffer from more serious side effects. For example, delirium tremens is one of the most severe of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It can surface within the first 48 hours after your last drink and involves confusion, severe shaking, hallucinations, and high blood pressure. Although delirium tremens is uncommon, it can be life-threatening. Heavy drinkers who suddenly stop drinking may experience any range of dangerous symptoms, so it’s important for those experiencing withdrawal to undergo medically-assisted detox.


In a heavy, long-term drinker, the brain is almost continually exposed to the depressant effects of alcohol. This causes the person to develop a dependence on the substance.

Another review of 27 studies found that while alcohol may help people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it seriously screws with sleep quality after that initial restful period. As you no doubt know—and maybe your liquor cabinet even bears this out—there has been no drinking like pandemic drinking. Alcohol sales, according to Nielsen data, famously climbed 54 percent in the week ending March 21, 2020. You can lower your risk of liver damage and diabetes in just one month. We are committed to bringing you researched, expert-driven content to help you make more informed decisions around food, health, and wellness.

Some Truths About Life, Sans Booze

Kenny Dunn took photos of himself at every milestone after deciding to quit alcohol on November 2, 2016. These photos from 24 hours sober to four years sober show his transformation. Other dermatologic ramifications range from inflammation and an increased risk of rosacea to nutrient deficiencies that can affect the skin.

  • Symptoms can include nausea, rapid heart rate, seizures, or other problems.
  • Turns out that mood isn’t uncommon, as alcohol consumption has a significant impact on our mental health.
  • Fewer wrinkles, firmer skin and a healthier complexion are therefore just some of the benefits of not drinking alcohol.
  • Belinda Gordon-Battle is a licensed clinical therapist and life consultant based in Miami who provides therapeutic services globally.
  • But even if you don’t notice the change, if you look at the science of what happens when you stop drinking, let’s just say you might have second thoughts about leaning into this new habit.

Accumulation of fat in the liver is a precursor to liver damage — creating inflammation that can lead to liver disease. While the most infamous phase of recovery is the initial withdrawal stage, full detoxification can take up to two weeks in some cases. As your body is getting rid of the last remnants of alcohol, psychological symptoms can advance quickly — but so can the positive effects. A healthy brain conducts enough electricity to power a 20-watt light bulb, but alcohol’s sedative effects actually dampen its electrical power. Many withdrawal symptoms are caused by the brain experiencing a sudden surge in electrical activity, causing the nervous system to jump into overdrive. In short, quitting alcohol doesn’t change your personality, but rather, it reveals who you really are. More often than not, drinking is a mask, and many of us do things or act in ways we wouldn’t normally when sober.

Benefits Of Not Drinking Alcohol Timeline

Another big change I noticed when I got sober was the increased sharpness of my senses. I never thought this would be a result of sobriety, but I realize now that the alcohol numbed most of my emotions and senses. I was able to breathe clearer, inhale deeper and listen more intently. Confidential non-judgmental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicide. Not only is your brain repairing itself, it’s also sending signals to your organs, your muscles and every area of your body to start working towards reestablishing the balance you’ve been disrupting.

changes after stop drinking

Watching a family member struggle with a drinking problem can be as heartbreakingly painful as it is frustrating. But while you can’t do the hard work of overcoming addiction for your loved one, your love and support can play a crucial part in their long-term recovery. Make a note about how you feel physically and mentally on these days—recognizing the benefits may help you to cut down for good. After you drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream via the stomach (20%) and small intestine (80%). Alcohol’s side effects kick in within 5 to 10 minutes after drinking.

Your Cancer Risk Falls

Food can absorb the alcohol in beverages, so eating before or even while you drink can dampen the effect and may make you want to drink less, says Crews. A standard glass of wine is 5 ounces, which contains about 12% alcohol.

changes after stop drinking

So, life as a sober person was very difficult at the beginning. Although my wife doesn’t drink, I couldn’t go to places where alcohol was served and I became a bit of an introvert. At our family Christmas changes after quitting alcohol in 2016, I noticed there was no alcohol and a few hours in I asked my father why they weren’t drinking. I realized my family had collectively decided to abstain from alcohol for my sake.

Preventing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

That program worked for me, but if something else works for other people, that’s great. There are many ways to get sober and 12 Step is just one of them. However, it was foolish of me to stop drinking on my own without consulting a doctor. By the time I was 34 years old, I was getting up every day and drinking alcohol. I knew where I could buy the cheapest hard liquor with the highest percentage of alcohol and no matter where I went, I usually had a mini bottle or two of liquor in my pocket.

Developing an alcohol-free lifestyle and achieving long-term sobriety takes a lot more effort than merely not drinking anymore. If you’ve stopped drinking and began on the road to recovery, congratulate yourself.

Once the body becomes dependent on alcohol, it requires more and more of the substance to produce the same effects. The long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to many physical and psychological problems. Alcohol can affect the levels of particular neurotransmitters in the brain, impacting how the body and mind communicate and changing your moods and thought processes. According Sober living houses to the National Cancer Institute, drinking booze has been linked to an increased risk for cancers of the mouth, liver, breast, colon, and rectum—and the risk increases the more you drink. You can guarantee you’ll lower your cancer risk in just 30 days. Replace your post-boozing McDonald’s menu with snacks and meals high in fibrous fruits, veggies, and legumes.

There is a high rate of comorbidity between addiction and other mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and a substance use disorder in 2018. This typically occurs after five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women. The liver is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins-including alcohol. Drinking too much can also cause fatty liver disease, inflammation of the liver and, over time, cirrhosis and liver failure.

Giving up alcohol gives us the opportunity to get to know ourselves and allow our true personalities to shine. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can lead to stroke and neuropathy. The American Heart Association says that regular heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and cause irregular heartbeats over time.

changes after stop drinking

You might reach for alcohol when you’re really just thirsty, says Crews. Drink a cup of soothing tea or a tall glass of water before you imbibe—once your thirst is quenched, you may not feel the need for as much—or any—alcohol. Use the NIAAA’s drink size calculator to determine the amount of alcohol in various drinks.

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