6 Bonus Benefits of Alcohol Recovery

Living without alcohol simply feels better

Smiling woman stretching arms on sunny neighborhood sidewalk
Hero Images / Getty Images

When you quit drinking after years of alcohol abuse, not only will your body begin to reverse the effects of excessive alcohol, you will simply feel better, too.

Heavy drinking can take a heavy toll on your physical and mental health, upping your risk of the following conditions: 

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer: head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, colorectal
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive issues
  • Dementia
  • Hearing loss
  • Sexually transmitted disease

Research shows that some of the damage caused to your brain, liver, cardiovascular system, and gut will begin to slowly heal as you stop drinking and enter recovery from an alcohol use disorder.

As the alcohol leaves your system and you begin to establish some healthy habits, you will begin to feel better—perhaps better than you have in years. Especially after you get past the temporary discomfort of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you'll notice increasing improvements in your physical and mental health.

Benefits of Recovery From an Alcohol Use Disorder

Here are a few of the many benefits of recovery:

Better-Looking Skin

Did you ever hear the term "alcoholic face?" This is the phrase used to describe the negative effects alcohol abuse can have on your skin, including dehydration, inflammation, reduced collagen levels (which results in loose, saggy skin), and with chronic, long-term abuse, jaundice.

When you stop drinking, you gradually restore elasticity to the skin and the redness and yellowing of the skin and around the eyes slowly disappears.

Improved Sleep

Alcohol abuse and poor sleep are bedfellows. This is because alcohol interferes with your sleep-wake cycles, making it more difficult to fall asleep (and stay asleep) throughout the night. It also relaxes the muscles in the throat, making you more prone to sleep apnea and snoring.

While you can expect some sleep troubles in early recovery, the longer you abstain from alcohol (and relearn good sleep hygiene), the greater improvements in your sleep quality. 

A Healthier Weight

Alcohol robs your body of essential nutrients and it also derails your metabolism. In addition, alcohol is filled with sugars and empty calories. If you binge drink, you can easily consume 600 calories or more in just one night.

A big part of alcohol recovery is not only learning to quit drinking but learning to live a healthier lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and exercise. While everybody differs, regaining a healthy weight is a realistic goal for many people who stay sober for the long-term.

The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dLi—in a short period of time (about two hours). This typically occurs after five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women.

Regained Hobbies and Passion

One of the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder is giving up the social activities and hobbies you once enjoyed to focus on drinking.

A sober life means having more time to rediscover yourself and your passion and build a new, exciting alcohol-free life.

Improved Mental Health

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.

As you achieve your sobriety goals (small and big) and work toward a healthier you, you will begin to notice an improvement in your mental health. This may include increased self-confidence and self-respect and decreased anxiety and depression, especially if you are struggling with a co-occurring mental health issue.

Better Immunity

Alcohol interferes with your immune system, preventing it from producing enough white blood cells to fend off germs and bacteria. This is why many long-term, heavy drinkers tend to struggle with bouts of pneumonia and tuberculosis.

When you give up drinking, you will also be giving up the many colds and flu and illnesses that you may have been unable to ward off due to chronic drinking.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

A Word From Verywell

These benefits are just beginning. The longer you go without alcohol, the more health improvements you will experience. This will include for-the-better changes in your overall health, relationships, job or schoolwork, finances, and more.

Try your best to have patience as your mind and body heals and you relearn a life without alcohol. And take pride in how far you've already come. You deserve it.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcohol's Effects on the Body. National Inst. of Health. Published online, no date.

  2. Perney P, Lehert P. Insomnia in Alcohol-Dependent Patients: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Acamprosate Effect: An Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. Alcohol Alcohol. 2018;53(5):611-618. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agy013

  3. Brand RM, Stottlemyer JM, Cline RA, Donahue C, Behari J, Falo LD. Skin Immunization Obviates Alcohol-Related Immune Dysfunction. Biomolecules. 2015;5(4):3009-28. doi:10.3390/biom5043009

Additional Reading