What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

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If you're 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, there are also many people who 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, and you are drinking every day, here is a timeline of what you can expect in regards to your mental and physical health when you stop drinking. If you have alcohol use disorder but only drink on weekends, know that you will also get benefits from stopping:

  • 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 to detoxify 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 severe and may require medical attention.
  • After Three Days: After three days, you will likely start to feel more like yourself. However, individuals who have been drinking heavily for long periods of time may still experience some symptoms of withdrawal and may even have hallucinations or delirium tremens (DTs) and seizures. Delirium tremens is a a serous and life threatening condition, and If you're concerned about your symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor.
  • After One Week: After one week without alcohol, your risk of seizures is much less. Also, 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 alcohol-free is a big accomplishment. 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 start to feel less anxious and more positive. One study showed that after 6 weeks of abstinence from alcohol, brain volume increases by an average of 2%.
  • After Six Months: After half a year without drinking, you will really start to reap the rewards. Your risk of developing cancer will decrease, and your liver function will have greatly improved. 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. Keep in mind that everyone is different and will experience different things when they stop drinking.

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

Other Effects 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.

When you drink alcohol, even in moderate amounts, it can result in obesity. So, when you stop drinking, you may find that you have fewer cravings for food.

4. You may feel irritable or anxious.

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

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 begin to 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, when you stop drinking, your risk of developing these diseases decreases.

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, which can lead to 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 when it's no longer in your system, your body has more energy to work with.

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 changes in brain chemistry, which can lead to cognitive problems.

11. You may feel happier.

One of the best things about giving up alcohol is that you may find yourself feeling 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, such as 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 you to improve your relationships with friends and family.

It is worth mentioning that nutritional status improvement occurs when someone strop drinking, which is one big reason why people may see many of the above improvements with sobriety.

A Word From Verywell

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 make the decision. Of course, giving up alcohol is not always easy, and there may be some challenges along the way. But if you're committed to sobriety, it's definitely possible to achieve your goal.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol use disorder, 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.

10 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.
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By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.