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July 24, 2022

What To Expect When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

Abusing alcohol over a long period of time can actually change your brain. When your body becomes accustomed to high levels of alcohol, your brain starts to crave the substance and even “require” it for every day functioning. When you stop drinking alcohol, the body experiences an unexpected and sudden change. Typically, this leads to withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings. These withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last for months. Everyone’s experience with quitting alcohol is different, but here are a few things you can expect to experience soon after you stop drinking.

An Onset Of Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can develop as soon as 6 hours after your last drink. Generally, your history with alcohol and your genetic makeup will determine the intensity of withdrawal, but most people experience a combination of psychical and psychological symptoms.

Common physical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Clammy skin
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • Hand or muscle tremors
  • Sweating

Common psychological symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

You might also feel dehydrated because of alcohol’s diuretic effects. These symptoms can last for up to 2 weeks. Severe alcohol withdrawal often involves a condition known as delirium tremens (DT). Delirium tremens can occur anywhere from 2 to 4 days up to 1 week after your last drink, but being malnourished can increase the risk of this life-threatening condition.

Symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sensitivity to touch, light, or sound
  • Dangerous changes in blood pressure

Since DT can worsen rapidly and may be fatal, people experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal need to be hospitalized until their symptoms can be controlled.

Intense Cravings For Alcohol

As your body eliminates the last remnants of alcohol, you might start to experience psychological symptoms. Even though you’re no longer drinking, you still might feel a little anxious and depressed. In addition to that, you might have:

  • Decreased energy
  • Diminished appetite
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Feelings of aggression or hostility
  • Declined sexual interest and function

Intense cravings for alcohol may be the strongest symptom. Even though all traces of alcohol have been removed from your system, your brain will still desire alcohol to help satisfy the chemical balance present in your body when you abused alcohol.

Experience The Positive Effects of Sobriety

Over time, you’ll also start to feel like yourself again. As anxiety and depression diminish, you may start to feel energized, healthier, and in a better mood.

After about a month of quitting alcohol, your physical health will improve. You may notice:

  • Less belly fat
  • Decreased blood sugar levels
  • Decreased cholesterol

Your physical appearance might also improve. The elasticity of the skin typically increases, which can make you look younger. Other positive effects of sobriety include:

  • Improved immunity
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Healthier cardiovascular system
  • Sharper focus and concentration
  • Improved memory and thinking
  • Healthier weight
  • Improved sleep
  • Better mental health

Equipping You To Live A Sober Life

Quitting alcohol isn’t an overnight journey. But here at Meta, our mission is to help empower and equip you to take charge of your own recovery. Our flexible outpatient treatment programs can help support you as you walk through the various stages of detox, recovery, and sobriety. Let us help equip you to live a sober life. Contact us today to learn more.