Quit Drinking: What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol
- Improved Sleep
- Better Mood & Mental Health
- Weight Loss
- Improved Liver Health
- Better Heart Health
- Renewed Immune Function
- Improved Appearance
Alcohol withdrawal and recovery are a process, and each requires an appropriate period of time and patience. The human body cannot heal from the effects of long-term alcohol misuse overnight.
But those who approach detox and recovery with the proper support, mindset, and motivation to stay alcohol-free can expect to enjoy a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits as a result.
Here are seven things that could happen when you kick your drinking habits for good:
1. Improved Sleep
Alcohol, whether consumed heavily or in moderation, is known to disrupt your ability to sleep in a number of different ways:
- it throws off the body’s circadian rhythm and the wake/sleep cycle
- it interferes with deep sleep (REM sleep), which can cause strange dreams, restlessness, and problems with memory and concentration
- it can over-relax the muscles of the throat, leading to sleep apnea and snoring
- it may trigger repeated sleep interruptions due to changing blood alcohol levels and the frequent need to urinate
- both social and solitary drinking patterns can keep you up late into the night
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms also severely interfere with sleep in the short term, often causing insomnia, nightmares, and sleep disturbances. However, after withdrawal is concluded, your sleep performance and daytime energy, and focus should steadily improve with time.
2. Better Mood & Mental Health
Alcohol, while it may provide temporary relaxation, confidence, and pleasure, only damages the mental state of those who abuse it in the long term.
This is especially true for those who use alcohol intoxication and sedation to self-medicate against diagnosable mental health conditions like anxiety, panic, stress, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or agoraphobia.
But it also applies to those without specific mental health issues who have experienced increasing irritability, anger, depression, anxiety, deception, and secretiveness as their alcohol addiction has progressed.
Detox is a mentally taxing process, especially when you quit cold turkey. But once it is concluded, former heavy drinkers report that their mood, self-image, and mental well-being start to improve as the last.
3. Weight Loss
Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories, and heavy drinking often gets in the way of exercise and other healthy habits.
If you don’t drink alcohol, you may find weight loss to be an unexpected but welcome side-effect.
4. Improved Liver Health
Chronic alcohol consumption and binge drinking damage the human liver, potentially leading to life-threatening liver disease and cirrhosis.
But the human liver is famous for its resilience, and if you give it a break you may enjoy significantly improved liver function and metabolism as it regenerates.
5. Better Heart Health
You may have heard that red wine is good for the heart. But the effect is thought to be relatively small, and only benefits those who have just one drink (or less) a day.
Drinking a larger amount of alcohol on a daily basis can lead to dependence, high blood pressure, and increasing heart rate, triglyceride levels, and risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, by giving up alcohol, you can limit these risks and bring levels back down over time.
6. Renewed Immune Function
Those with drinking problems tend to get sick more often and have a much harder time recovering when they do get sick than the general population.
This is because the effects of alcohol directly interfere with the human immune system, disrupting white blood cell production and leaving you more vulnerable to viruses and bacterial infections.
By giving up drinking, you can set the stage for your immune system to rebuild, helping you better manage the next common cold or stomach bug that you come across.
7. Improved Appearance
If giving up alcohol benefits your immune system function, healing, sleep, hydration levels, nutrition, mood, and more, then it should be no surprise that it can improve your overall health and outward appearance in turn.
Specific benefits may include:
- no more red, bloodshot, or jaundiced eyes
- reduced bags under your eyes
- younger-looking, more elastic skin
- fewer wrinkles
- improved hair volume and luster
- fewer and less-noticeable blemishes
Addiction Treatment For Alcohol Recovery
Due to the discomfort and risk of acute alcohol withdrawal, you should only attempt to detox from alcohol with medical supervision in an approved, professional addiction treatment setting.
To determine which substance abuse treatment options are best for yourself or a loved one, please connect with our helpline today.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. Learn the facts
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism (NIAAA) - Alcohol's Effects on the Body
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism (NIAAA) - Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
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