Benefits of No Alcohol: Timeline
Regardless of why someone decides to quit drinking, knowing what to expect and having the benefits of a no-alcohol timeline in mind to follow and measure progress can help keep them strong and remind them what they have to gain by overcoming alcohol addiction. Whether you occasionally drink, binge drink, or are struggling with alcohol addiction and drink a lot regularly, alcohol affects your physical and mental health.
What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?
What happens to your body when you stop drinking will depend on how much you regularly consume. Within a few hours after your last drink, the body will process the remaining alcohol out of the system.
Remaining alcohol-free for enough time allows the body to naturally recover and heal the short-term physical and mental health problems caused by drinking. Many people start to feel better and see improvements in areas they didn’t even realize alcohol affected within weeks of quitting alcohol. Casual drinkers who decide to stop drinking will see benefits faster than someone dependent on alcohol for years and who has more damage that takes longer to heal.
People who quit for a set amount of time, like “dry January” or “sober October,” will only see the benefits of not drinking while they remain alcohol-free; as soon as they begin drinking regularly, the progress disappears. Only people who permanently quit alcohol will experience the full long-term benefits of sobriety.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal will be the first thing that happens when you stop drinking alcohol and can begin as soon as a few hours after your last drink. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms will vary for each person based on the extent and severity of their substance abuse and alcohol dependence.
For instance, high-functioning alcoholics may not be intoxicated to the point of losing control regularly, but their constant alcohol intake has made them physically dependent on alcohol to function. Their withdrawal symptoms will be more severe than someone who has a couple of glasses of wine throughout the week.
In the first 12 to 24 hours after your last drink, you can expect to start experiencing the following alcohol withdrawal symptoms:
- Disrupted sleep
- Alcohol cravings
- Body aches and pains
- Cold, pale, or numb limbs
- Reduced energy
- Difficulty focusing
- Abnormal breathing
People who are physically dependent on alcohol experience what is known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). AWS is more intense and potentially dangerous than a hangover or mild withdrawal in casual drinkers.
The first 24 to 72 hours of alcohol withdrawal is difficult for heavy drinkers due to the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and delirium tremens (DTs). DTs can cause drastic physical and mental changes, including changes in blood pressure, extreme confusion, hallucinations, seizures, coma, or death.
Because AWS can become life-threatening for people with severe alcohol addiction, it often requires medically supervised detox to ensure their safety, followed by addiction treatment to prevent relapse and manage potential long-term complications.
Benefits of No Alcohol for a Week
After one week without alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms may still be ongoing, and there may still be some lingering unpleasant symptoms mixed with the improvements.
There aren’t drastic improvements in the first week because the body is still learning to function without alcohol. Imagine it is similar to walking on solid land after being on a boat for several weeks; there is a readjustment period for the body and mind.
The benefits of no alcohol for a week include:
- More restful sleep
- Returning or improved appetite
- Improving mental clarity
- More hydrated
You may notice a lack of energy or display sudden mood swings and mental health problems that can include anxiety or depression increasing.
Benefits of No Alcohol for 2 Weeks
After two weeks, the physical withdrawal symptoms will have subsided for most people, and additional benefits of being alcohol-free will begin to emerge.
The benefits of 2 weeks without alcohol include the following:
- Blood glucose levels returning to normal
- Weight loss
- Improved indigestion and acid reflux symptoms
- Liver fat begins to break down
However, mental health problems may seem more pronounced during this time because the effects of alcohol abuse are no longer masking them, and the brain is still recovering from the damaging effects of alcohol. Some people may benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to manage mental health disorders.
Benefits of No Alcohol for 30 Days
After 30 days with no alcohol, the benefits become apparent to yourself and outside observers. Your body is healing the internal and external effects of alcohol, and healthy habits are starting to stick and become second nature.
The benefits of no alcohol for 30 days can include the following:
- Improved liver health
- Better circulation
- Reduction in high blood pressure
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Normalized sleep cycle
- Skin brighter and clearer skin
- Improved cognitive function and memory
- Stabilized moods
- Increased energy
Some people will still notice post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), with effects including anxiety, emotional outbursts, and sudden alcohol cravings.
One benefit of PAWS in people receiving addiction treatment is that professionals can observe firsthand how it affects the person and work with them to develop techniques to manage it in the future.
Benefits of No Alcohol for 3 Months
Once you’ve been alcohol-free for three months, the physical, mental, and social benefits and progress are easily recognized. The previous short-term discomfort will be worth the long-term benefits of sobriety.
The benefits of no alcohol for three months include:
- Stronger immune system
- Increased mental clarity
- Higher energy levels
- Memory improvements
- Better physical health
- Improved interpersonal relationships
- More free time and disposable income
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Lowered risk of cancer, stroke, and heart attack
Three months of recovery is an impressive accomplishment. Still, it is important to remember that recovery requires an active, daily commitment and upkeep to prevent relapse.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Northridge, California
If you or a loved one is struggling with the effects of alcohol abuse and feel like you can’t quit on your own, effective addiction treatment is available. At Northridge Addiction Treatment Center, we understand that individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder need structured support and guidance to achieve sobriety and live a meaningful life in recovery.
At NATC, our residential treatment center offers onsite medical detox to ensure your health and safety during withdrawal with 24-hour medical care and supervision. Our amenities and chef-catered meals with special dietary accommodations help you regain physical strength, and our evidence-based treatments help your thinking and provide you with the skills to help prevent relapse.
Begin your path to recovery now. Reach out to our compassionate and helpful treatment specialists.
Find Meaningful Recovery
Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.