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What Happens When You Stop Drinking: A Timeline

What timeline of changes happens to your body when you stop drinking? Although alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or potentially deadly, most people notice positive changes after detox and withdrawal. These positive changes include improvements in mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

If you or a loved one want to quit drinking but are concerned about withdrawal symptoms, Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta, Georgia, can help. Our detox programs and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) provide you with a safe way to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. That way, you can start your recovery from alcohol addiction and benefit from the positive changes that happen when you stop drinking.

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking?

When you stop drinking, your body will go through noticeable changes. First off, if you are a heavy or long-term drinker, you are likely to have withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can make you feel worse in the short term because your body is dependent upon alcohol.

But, after withdrawal, you will notice improvements to your health and well-being.

Timeline of What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking

Withdrawal symptoms will be the first changes that you notice. By entering an alcohol detox program, you reduce your risk of having dangerous withdrawal symptoms and improve your chances of recovery.

The following is a timeline of the changes to your health after you stop drinking alcohol:
  • First few hours to one day: Cravings and mild withdrawal symptoms occur within a few hours after your last drink.
  • Days one to three: From days one to three after you stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms escalate in severity. You might have tremors, intense cravings, irritability, and restlessness. By day three, symptoms should peak. Those with severe alcohol addiction could have delirium tremens (DTs), which can be deadly when you don’t get professional help.
  • Three to seven days later: After withdrawal symptoms peak in severity, you’ll start to feel better physically. You could still have lingering symptoms and will likely be exhausted from the withdrawal process. In addition, underlying mental health symptoms could arise at this time.
  • One to two weeks after: You start to sleep better, which can improve your overall health and wellness. Since alcohol is a depressant, many people don’t realize how much alcohol affects their sleep until after detox. Detox programs typically last one to two weeks, and then you should be ready to continue alcohol rehab.
  • One to three months later: Your blood pressure should return to a healthy level after about a month. A few months afterward, you’ll feel more energetic and healthy. You will also begin to look healthier since alcohol dehydrates you, affecting your physical appearance.
  • After one year in recovery: The first year in recovery will be the most challenging, this is when you are the most vulnerable to relapsing. But, as you continue in recovery, you will notice significant improvements to your overall health. These can include weight loss, increased energy, decreased anxiety and depression, and being less likely to get sick because alcohol abuse decreases your immunity to disease.

Can Your Health Improve When You Stop Drinking?

Yes, your overall health can improve significantly when you stop drinking. When you stop drinking, you stop the damaging effects of alcohol abuse. In addition, during a rehab program, you can learn healthy ways to cope with stressors without alcohol. This begins a snowball effect of benefits when you stop drinking.

Essentially, recovery from alcohol addiction involves finding the underlying causes of your addiction. For most people, drinking is the way they cope with mental health symptoms and other stressors. So, recovery involves finding healthy ways to cope with these issues. After that, you start to benefit from the healthy choices that you make through holistic treatment approaches.

Some healthy replacements to cope with stress when you stop drinking include:

  • Nutrition and Diet: What you eat has a tremendous impact on how you feel. It can affect how to respond to stress, how energetic you feel, and how well you sleep.
  • Red Light Therapy: Exposure to red light can help your brain produce serotonin, which aids in mood regulation and sleep.
  • Exercise: Physical activity, like working out, running, hiking, or walking, increases endorphins, which can improve your mood and outlook. In addition, you can improve cardiovascular health and lose weight.
  • Meditation: Taking a few minutes to meditate can greatly improve your health and help you cope with stress when you stop drinking.

Are Some Health Consequences of Drinking Permanent?

While many health consequences of excessive drinking can be reversed, some people do develop long-term, chronic health issues. People who develop these issues are usually those who have been drinking excessively for years. In addition, people who excessively drink and abuse other substances, or those who use nicotine products, are more likely to develop chronic health issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are some long-term health consequences of excessive drinking:

  • Hypertension and heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Liver diseases, like cirrhosis
  • Increased risk of certain types of cancers
  • Digestive issues
  • Learning and memory problems, like Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (“wet brain”)

While some of these health consequences cannot be completely reserved, quitting drinking now will help improve your overall health and resilience—even after years of excessive alcohol abuse.

Stop Drinking Now to Improve Your Health

Drinking alcohol excessively can have several short- and long-term consequences on your health and well-being. However, after you stop drinking and go through alcohol detox, you will notice positive changes. The timeline of what happens to your body when you stop drinking depends on how much you drink and how long you have been drinking. But, if you stop drinking now and enter an alcohol detox program, you can expect your health to improve tremendously.

Buckhead Behavioral Health provides alcohol detox and rehab programs in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact us today to stop drinking and improve your health.

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