Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol

Estimated reading time: 29 minute(s)

Alcohol use has become a major part of the culture today as the social pressure to consume this beverage is at an all-time high. This increasing pressure may convince many that drinking a couple of drinks every other day is no big deal and is essential to keep an active role in their social circle or workplace. However, it is undeniable that alcohol consumption, especially when it becomes too frequent or too high, can severely impact health, and not in a good way. Studies suggest that drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week for a long time can significantly increase the risk of serious illnesses, including stroke, cancer, liver and brain disease, and heart attacks.

In such circumstances, deciding to give up alcohol seems wise and brave. For many, it marks a huge shift in their lives, but if done properly, it can make a difference in boosting overall health.

Why Quit Drinking: The Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol

The benefits of not drinking alcohol are numerous and involve both mental and physical health. Below is a list of all the advantages you can expect to get the minute you kick out all alcoholic beverages from your life:

Increased Quality of Sleep

Sleep comes in different stages, and the two most important ones include slow wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Alcohol can negatively impact these stages, so when a person quits drinking, they are much more likely to sleep better and wake up feeling more alert, energetic, and brighter.

Improved Mood and Concentration

With no alcohol clouding your judgment or draining your energy levels, you will feel much happier and find it easier to be productive in whatever you do at work or home.

Better Hydration

With no alcohol in the system, your hydration levels will likely increase. In turn, you will experience lesser headaches, your skin will become more radiant, and the dark circles around the eyes will reduce.

Improvement in Memory

Alcohol is notorious for interfering with the hippocampus, a part of the brain that deals with memory. So as soon as an individual quits drinking, their memory retention and recollection automatically improve.

Easier Weight Loss

Alcohol can slow down the metabolism, making it harder for the body to process sugar and fat. As a result, many alcoholics struggle to shed extra pounds and constantly move towards obesity. Additionally, alcohol has a very high-calorie count and can further add to weight gain. With this beverage out of the system, people can kickstart their slow metabolisms and start shedding pounds. Quitting drinking is also likely to help them prevent late-night snacking and fast food binges from regulating their body weight in a better way.

Better Gastrointestinal Health

Alcohol is an irritant that damages the digestive system and causes issues like acid reflux and indigestion. Quitting it can automatically resolve these issues while increasing the ability of the gut to absorb and store nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Better Skin Health

Alcohol is likely to cause red, puffy, or blotchy skin in addition to dehydrating it. On the other hand, alcohol-free skin is better hydrated and without any puffiness or dry patches that may inflame underlying skin conditions.

Better Controlled Blood Pressure

Alcohol use is closely associated with high blood pressure and may even contribute to the risk of heart disease. By cutting off alcohol, it is possible to normalize blood pressure readings and save the heart.

Improved Liver Health

The liver is one of the main organs that take a direct hit from heavy alcohol use. The minute a heavy or binge drinker quits alcohol, their liver health improves. Additionally, quitting alcohol also causes the fat accumulated around the liver to melt and contributes to better organ functioning.

What Happens When You Stop Drinking: The Withdrawal Tenure

Just as different people respond differently to alcohol use, their experiences may also vary when they finally decide to quit the beverage. Below is a generalized timeline of the symptoms to expect as a person goes through quitting alcohol; however, remember that this timeline must only be used to understand what happens when you stop drinking.

Up to 24 Hours after the last drink

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually hit most people within 24 hours of their last drink. Depending on how much alcohol they consumed and how often, these symptoms may appear in as little as 2 hours. People who drink more heavily or frequently may experience more severe symptoms than someone with moderate consumption. Some early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include hand tremors, anxiety, sweating, headaches, and shakiness. Some people also start experiencing alcohol cravings along with depression and fatigue.

12-72 hours after the last drink

During this time frame, more serious withdrawal symptoms occur, such as delirium tremens (DT). DT is a potentially life-threatening condition associated with alcohol withdrawal, including hallucinations, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and seizures. This period is hazardous for anyone who has just stopped drinking alcohol and requires medical supervision to get through it safely.

48-72 hours after the last drink

The withdrawal symptoms slowly begin to subside for most people, giving them a chance to function more normally. Some may continue to experience certain symptoms of DT, such as delusions, disorientation, and other mild issues like sweating.

Between 3 and 7 days after the last drink

Most of the withdrawal symptoms cease within one week of stopping alcohol. However, a small group of people, especially those with more severe symptoms like DT, may continue to experience them. Such people require medical supervision to keep their experience safe.

A Breakdown of Alcoholism Recovery By Week

Mentioned below is a breakdown of what to expect after you stop drinking for at least a week or later:

Week one of quitting alcohol

Avoiding alcohol use for one whole week can help people sleep better at night. Sleeping in a state of intoxication causes people to fall straight into the deep sleep stage while surpassing the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, leading to poor sleep quality. However, many people start dodging this after one week of quitting alcohol, which improves their sleep quality and makes them more productive and focused during the day. Better sleep also lets them control their emotions and behaviors much better. Additionally, good-quality sleep due to no alcohol use balances the hormones responsible for satiety and hunger that prevents unnecessary food binges.

Drinking alcohol in routine can force the body to lose approximately four times as much liquid as consumed. This can easily lead to dehydration, causing headaches, fatigue, and other issues. Alcohol-triggered dehydration can also mess with potassium and sodium levels and impact nerve and muscle function. Giving up alcohol for a week sorts out all these issues by upping the hydration levels, stabilizing the mood and concentration, and reducing the frequency of headaches.

Week two of quitting alcohol

Following two weeks of no alcohol, the body can fully reap the benefits of better sleep. It also starts managing the negative effects of alcohol on the gut, including acid reflux and indigestion. As the body gets rid of the empty calories from alcohol, it also starts focusing on weight loss. At this point, you are likely to have saved 1920 calories if you previously drank six glasses of 175 ml wine per week or 2160 calories if you consumed six pints of lager per week.

Week three of quitting alcohol

Drinking alcohol can easily cause blood pressure to rise with time. Fortunately, this elevated blood pressure begins to fall as a person enters the third week of quitting alcohol. This benefit is crucial for maintaining good heart health in the long run. Moreover, because alcohol is a high-calorie drink, quitting it will also help regulate the daily calorie intake and help in weight loss. By week three, you will likely lose 2880 calories if you previously drank six glasses of 175 ml wine per week or 3250 calories if you consumed six pints of lager per week.

Week four of quitting alcohol

For people, one month sober, an alcohol-free life will start positively impacting the skin due to improved hydration levels. As the body absorbs more water than waste, the skin will appear more hydrated, with reduced signs of eczema and dandruff. At this point, alcohol removal will also start improving the liver function as the organ sheds excess fat layers accumulated around it. As the liver begins to recover, the body automatically starts working much more efficiently to remove contaminants and toxins while storing vitamins and minerals better. Keep in mind that the liver may require a few more weeks to complete the recovery process.

Week 12 of quitting alcohol

The benefits of quitting alcohol continue to pop up three months after the last drink. Research suggests that someone who has given up alcohol for at least 12 weeks is at a much lesser risk of getting cancer at any point in life. This is because alcohol is a potential human carcinogen and can contribute to many types of cancers, such as:

  • Liver cancer
  • Cancer of the pharynx and larynx
  • Oral cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cancer of the stomach and esophagus
  • Colorectal cancer


Should I quit drinking?

There is no argument that quitting drinking can bring myriads of mental and physical health benefits, and experts strongly suggest it. Although occasional alcohol intake does not typically cause serious health threats, the benefits of quitting are far higher as it can positively impact sleep, body weight, immunity, skin, and all major organs of the body. To put it simply, life becomes far better, and of higher quality the minute a person gives up on alcohol.

Will quitting alcohol reduce the risk of getting into accidents?

Alcohol is essential in causing at least half of serious traumatic injuries and fatalities due to drowning, burns, and homicides. Statistics suggest that four out of ten fatal falls, suicides, and traffic crashes involve alcohol use in some way. While you do not need to completely give up on alcohol to reduce the risk of these accidents, doing it is highly encouraged and can make a lasting change.

How long will it take to feel better after quitting alcohol?

Most people take a month to feel better after quitting alcohol, even though many positive changes appear much earlier than this. Three months of sobriety can further improve sleep, energy levels, immunity, skin health, heart health, and mood. The exact timeline can vary slightly from one person to another depending on their history of alcohol addiction, such as the kind of alcohol they consumed, its frequency, and dose.

Can quitting alcohol continue to benefit me after one year?

Quitting something as harmful as alcohol can have prolonged benefits on health and general well-being even after one year. In addition to experiencing better skin, immunity, organ health, and mood, quitting alcohol will positively impact your relationships and help you save lots of money you would otherwise spend on obtaining liquor.

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