9 Things That Happen When You Stop Drinking
Stopping drinking alcohol can be a scary and uncertain choice to make. For people with alcohol dependency, quitting alcohol may not feel like an option.
If you’ve ever tried to stop, you’d know that the alcohol withdrawal symptoms and alcohol cravings can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. However, nothing compares to how alcohol impacts your body as you continue to use it.
When you finally decide to stop drinking, you will notice some negative side effects before seeing the true benefits. You must go through this short-term state of withdrawals and detox to feel like yourself again — the you that everyone knew before alcohol.
Keep reading to learn nine different healthy things that happen to you when you stop drinking alcohol, whether you’re quitting cold turkey or weaning yourself off.
What Are the Negative Impacts of Drinking?
Prolonged alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on a person’s mind and body. When people become dependent on alcohol to function, they can bring a lot of negativity into their lives.
Whether it’s a result of surrounding themselves with bad influences, damaging their liver and heart, or losing friendships and family members as a result of addiction, alcohol does more harm than good.
When you become an alcoholic, you will see issues with your sleep patterns, mood, skin, and overall health and well-being. You might think that alcohol is helping you because it drowns out your problems, but it only pushes you further into a harmful cycle. The longer that you use, the harder it is to stop.
One reason that people don’t want to stop is the withdrawal process. During this period, your body can react violently to the lack of alcohol, causing you to become sick, have high blood pressure, lose the ability to fall asleep, increase your mood instability, and in some cases, put you at risk for delirium tremens (DTS), seizures, and even death.
Unfortunately, you must detox to stop drinking and become sober, but you can usually do so under medical supervision.
What Happens When You Stop Drinking?
People that want to stop drinking but are scared to might be worried about the withdrawal phase. The first day after your last drink, whether a single glass of wine or a night of binge drinking, is the hardest to get through.
Once the withdrawal symptoms kick in, it becomes scary to know your body is about to go into shock and respond drastically. It can take weeks for your body to reset, depending on how reliant you are on alcohol.
Still, after the withdrawal symptoms have gone away, you’ll immediately begin to see improvements. What do people experience when they quit drinking?
1. Increased Mental Clarity
Alcohol intake will alter your brain chemistry, leading to cognitive functioning problems. You might notice that you have trouble clearly remembering things, your perception and sense of time might be off, and your motor skills are impaired when using alcohol. As soon as you stop drinking, your brain can clear itself up and focus better.
Your memory and problem-solving ability will become easier as the days pass without alcohol. After about a month of avoiding alcohol, your brain can almost reset, and you begin to feel like yourself again.
2. Improved Mood
When you drink every day, you can end up relying on alcohol to provide dopamine to your body. While many people associate alcohol with getting loose and feeling a sense of euphoria, over time, your body depends on alcohol to feel happy. Without alcohol, you can feel anxious, then use alcohol to calm those nerves, and during your come down, you repeat the same cycle.
When you stop drinking, your mood and wellness will actually improve. Your body needs to take the time to reintroduce healthy ways of receiving dopamine, but it can do this when alcohol is not present in your system.
Without alcohol, you can focus back on the things that you love to do and that bring you joy, increasing your overall mood.
3. Increased Energy
Alcohol is a depressant, so when it’s in your system, it is common to feel sluggish and low energy. Especially if you are stuck in a cycle of feeling depressed, drinking to cope, and going through the hangover process, all to do it again the next day, you don’t give your body a break or yourself a chance to feel anything other than low.
Your energy will also increase as soon as you change your drinking habits and begin to feel a sense of clarity. You’ll have more energy to fulfill your responsibilities, go out and see your friends, go to work or school, or do something you’re passionate about.
4. Better Sleep
Even though some alcoholics will swear that they need alcohol to sleep, this problem was created as a result of heavy drinking. That means once you stop drinking, your body will reset, and your sleep schedule will straighten out.
However, this doesn’t happen overnight. The first few days after stopping drinking might be really difficult, and you might find that falling asleep is extremely difficult, especially when you use alcohol to help you fall asleep. Once you go a few weeks without drinking, you’ll see improvements in your sleep schedule.
You’ll see improvements in the quality of your sleep as well. Drinking before bed typically sends people straight into a deep sleep, skipping past the two most important sleep cycles (REM and slow-wave sleep). Cutting out alcohol can help you sleep regularly and wake up feeling rested.
5. Healthier Liver
Heavy drinking severely damages your liver and impacts your liver functions. Chronic alcohol use destroys liver cells and makes it difficult to filter out harmful substances in your body. Luckily, when you stop drinking alcohol, your liver can repair some of the damage that has been done and improve your liver’s functioning abilities.
If you have fatty liver or cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol abuse, stopping drinking can add years to your life and decrease some of the damage done. If you are struggling with late-stage liver disease, it's important that you choose to cut back to make the time easier on your body.
6. Skin Clears Up
Using alcohol chronically can result in dull, dry, dehydrated skin. Alcohol can age a person easily, leaving people looking older than they are as a result of their usage. When you give up alcohol, your skin becomes more hydrated and regains some of its elasticity. This will help to decrease lines and inflammation to help you appear younger and healthier.
Often, people that look back on photographs of themselves during active alcohol addiction can’t help but notice how colorless and dry their skin looks. It may not be apparent during active addiction, but as soon as you’re out of it, you begin to notice just how dirty drinking did to your physical appearance.
7. Improved Finances
When you stop drinking, you end up saving a lot of money. You may not realize how much you are spending now, but when you stop buying alcohol, your wallet seems to grow. Alcohol use disorder is costly, especially when you factor in any damage you might do to your car, clothing, or house due to being intoxicated. You’ll have more extra cash floating around once you stop spending it on alcohol.
You also might be able to make better financial choices when you’re no longer under the influence, which can increase your bank account.
8. Strengthen Your Immune System
Alcohol disrupts our immune system and can make it easier for us to get sick. With prolonged use, alcohol causes a decline in certain vitamins and minerals that our body needs to fight back against viruses and illnesses. It even can make healing from injuries more difficult when you are a chronic alcohol user.
Heavy drinkers are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. While you can’t undo your past choices, quitting drinking can prevent you from putting yourself at further risk of heart disease.
When you quit drinking, your body regenerates lost vitamins and minerals and strengthens your immune system. You can bounce back from illnesses quicker and fight off bacteria as it enters your body. Overall, quitting alcohol can produce many health benefits you don’t think of until you feel yourself healing.
9. Relationships Improve
Alcohol often causes turmoil in relationships. There is added stress put onto friendships and families when someone is struggling with addiction. Many people lose their relationships due to alcohol use, but that doesn’t mean those loved ones have abandoned you.
As soon as you stop drinking and enter into the recovery process, whether your addiction treatment includes substance abuse support groups like AA, professional help, or other options, you will find that your family and friends have always been there to support you.
They were just waiting on you to decide to make a change. Reaching out to people you feel you’ve hurt can be difficult, but many of them are willing to give you a second chance and provide support through the recovery process.
Without Alcohol, You Need Community
For many, alcohol provides comfort they feel they cannot obtain anywhere else. When a person decides to become sober, they must be surrounded by other sober individuals who will support and understand them. With access to an iPhone or Android, you can have this community at the tip of your fingers.
Sober Sidekick is an app you download to enter into a world of other sober individuals looking for support. You can form bonds with people looking to succeed in their sobriety journey and gain access to medical professionals and resources to overcome your alcoholism.
Sign-up today to find yourself among people who understand your struggles and want to see you get better. Stop drinking today, and you’ll never want to go back to the life you once lived!
Effect of Alcohol on Hippocampal-Dependent Plasticity and Behavior: Role of Glutamatergic Synaptic Transmission | NCBI
Alcohol and Sleep | Sleep Foundation
Alcoholic Liver Disease: Pathogenesis and Current Management | NCBI