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30 Days Without Alcohol

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Benefits of Cutting Out Alcohol for 30 Days

Reducing or quitting alcohol can improve your well-being in many ways. Rajiv Jalan, a professor of hepatology at University College London, did a study on quitting alcohol for a month.

He found that abstinence from alcohol improved insulin resistance, weight, and blood pressure. Participants also saw improvements in liver function and cancer-related growth factors.

The benefits of cutting out alcohol for 30 days include:

  • Improved mood 
  • Better sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Improved relationships with loved ones
  • Better physical and mental performance 
  • Lower risk of long-term health problems such as cancer and heart disease
  • Saving money
  • Showing yourself that you can get through life without drinking
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Who Should Go Alcohol-Free for a Month?

Anyone can benefit from an alcohol-free month. 

There are no negatives to going alcohol-free for a month besides making minor adjustments to your social life. So you might want to start drinking water for happy hour.

If someone has an addiction, they should not suddenly go without alcohol. They need professional detox to guide them through withdrawal and face the consequences caused by withdrawal. If you start to get shaky and tremorous from not drinking alcohol every 4 to 5 hours, you definitely need professional detox.

Physical and Mental Effects of Quitting Alcohol for 30 Days

Here’s what can happen if you don’t drink alcohol for a month:

1. Better sleep

Abstaining from alcohol will help you get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. 

Although 15 to 28 percent of people use alcohol to help them sleep, it reduces the quality and quantity of rest. Alcohol can disrupt the two most essential parts of our sleep: 

  1. Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) is the most physically vital part of sleep.
  2. REM sleep is the part of sleep that helps you learn and remember. 

Most light to moderate drinkers who reduce their alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether will see the quality of their sleep improve relatively quickly.

2. Less bloating

People who give up alcohol are likely to experience the appearance of a slimmer face and torso as a result of less bloating caused by alcohol.

Alcohol is an inflammatory substance that causes swelling in the body.

This inflammation is worsened by the things often mixed with alcohol, such as sugary and carbonated liquids, resulting in gas, discomfort, and more bloating.

3. Possible weight loss

People who give up alcohol, even temporarily, may lose weight. Alcohol contributes to weight gain by reducing the speed of the body’s metabolism.

When the metabolism is slower, the body breaks down alcohol first, so fats and sugars burn off slower.

Plus, alcohol also carries almost the same number of calories as pure fat, at seven per gram.

Drinking also lowers inhibitions and can make some people more prone to snacking. While sober, it’s easier to maintain a strict diet.

4. Lower anxiety levels

Going alcohol-free can help you improve your mental health.

Although many people use alcohol to cope with stress and anxiety, evidence shows that alcohol is more likely to worsen anxiety. Going off alcohol can contribute to lower anxiety levels.

When our blood alcohol content increases, we become more emotionally unstable as we experience impairments to memory and comprehension.

This emotional instability makes managing stress while intoxicated even more challenging than it already is when we are clear-headed.

Alcohol alters the chemistry of the brain and can make anxiety worse. Chronic alcohol use is also a contributing factor to developing panic disorder.

5. Increased energy and focus

Going booze-free can elevate your energy levels.  

Drinking depletes your supply of B vitamins (which are crucial for sustained energy).

Like most nutrients, the B vitamins don't only have one purpose, so you may notice an impact on both your energy and focus with alcohol consumption.

6. Increased hydration 

Alcohol is dehydrating, so going without alcohol will allow your body to absorb water better and help you stay better hydrated.

Alcohol is a diuretic that causes your body to remove fluids from your blood at a much quicker rate than other liquids.

Your body has a hormone called vasopressin that helps your body reabsorb water passed through the kidneys.

When you drink alcohol, your body produces less vasopressin, which means less water is reabsorbed and it is expelled as urine.

Since you’re not reabsorbing water as much as you usually would, you end up getting dehydrated.

7. No hangovers

Abstaining from drinking means that you will no longer suffer from hangovers. Instead of nausea, headaches, or tiredness, you will feel more energized and productive.

8. Better skin

Going without alcohol helps your skin recover from the dehydrating effects of the substance, which gives it an unhealthy color and texture. 

Some drinkers have also reported that curbing their drinking has cleared their eczema.

9. Other health benefits

Giving up drinking offers many positive health benefits and reduces the risk of adverse consequences associated with long-term alcohol consumption.

Giving up drinking lowers your risk of developing the following:

  • Cancer: Alcohol consumption can cause cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectum, and female breast. 
  • Heart disease: Long-term alcohol abuse weakens and thins the heart muscle, affecting its ability to pump blood. When your heart can’t pump blood efficiently, the lack of blood flow disrupts all your body’s primary functions. 
  • Mental illness: Alcohol abuse can worsen the symptoms of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Diseases of the liver and pancreas: Alcohol consumption can cause alcoholic liver disease, alcoholic liver cirrhosis, and alcohol-induced acute or chronic pancreatitis. 
  • Infectious diseases: Alcohol use disorder has a detrimental impact on key infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV, and pneumonia. 
  • Diabetes - often caused by heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Violence and injury: There is a clear link between alcohol consumption and aggression, leading to violence. People who drink less often are more likely to be injured or injure others while intoxicated, presumably because of less tolerance. 
  • Self-harm and suicide: Alcohol consumption is also linked to intentional injury. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of suicide.
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What Happens During 30 Days Without Alcohol?

Here’s a timeline of what you'll experience when don’t drink alcohol for a month:

Day 1-2: Withdrawal Symptoms

You’ll start feeling withdrawal symptoms within six hours when you stop drinking. During the first 24 hours of no alcohol, you’ll experience:

  • Throbbing headaches
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep

You might also have trouble concentrating due to the painful symptoms of withdrawal. Performing day-to-day tasks might prove challenging because of the symptoms. This experience is typically referred to as a sober hangover.

If you’re thinking of quitting cold turkey, you should start on Friday. That way, you won’t have to deal with withdrawal at work.

By the second day, all the symptoms you experienced on the first day worsen. You’ll have a much stronger headache, worse sleep, and a prolonged sober hangover.

Day 3: Worsening Symptoms

For many people, the third day is the worst of the withdrawal period. During this time, you might experience:

  • Insomnia and insomnia-induced hallucinations
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • More sweating
  • Seizures
  • Delirium Tremens (DT)

Day 4-7: Turning Point

Nearing the end of the first week, most people start feeling better and experience relief. Most people say that they start sleeping better and get fewer headaches.

Physical symptoms such as sweating and shaking will fade if they don’t disappear outright. Eventually, by the seventh day, most physical symptoms would have subsided.

However, you will still experience psychological symptoms that will fluctuate in severity. During this time, you might struggle to stay sober as you experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Cravings

Week 2: Noticeable improvements

Once two weeks have passed, almost everyone will start to see improvements in their health. Here are a few noticeable changes during this time:

  • Better sleep
  • Subsiding insomnia
  • Less nausea
  • More energy
  • Better appetite 
  • Improved attentiveness
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved performance
  • Clearer thoughts and senses
  • Better skin

During the second week, you might start to lose weight with your “beer belly” improving. Scrapes and cuts can even begin to heal much faster.

Overall you’ll start to feel much better with these improvements to your health.  You’ll even have an easier time dealing with alcohol cravings.

However, people with severe symptoms may still experience mood swings and irritability. You will still feel mild anxiety, but it won’t be as severe as before.

Week 3: More Energy and Productivity

Around this time, there shouldn’t be any more physical or psychological symptoms. Cravings will continue to persist, but that’s natural. It’ll be a lot easier to manage your cravings at this point if you do get them.

During the third week, most people start to feel more energized and productive. You can even begin to develop healthier habits during this time.

At this point, you might start to notice that you have a lot of free time. You can use your newfound energy and productivity to engage in:

  • Hobbies
  • Personal projects
  • Social obligations
  • Events that don’t involve alcohol

Seek medical attention if you’re still experiencing symptoms after three weeks. 

Week 4: Physical and Emotional Changes

After almost a month of no alcohol, most people will start to notice physical and emotional changes. These changes include:

  • 10-25 pounds of weight loss
  • Subsiding anxiety
  • Emotional stability
  • A present state of mind
  • Feeling more in control

Day 30 and Onward: Maintaining Sobriety

After one month of sobriety, most people will have little to no desire to drink again. Cravings will become less frequent and feel less urgent.

Many people will feel more aware and discover a new sense of self. As you become healthier and more confident, you’ll feel less inclined to drink.

However, withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on your personal history with alcohol. Some people will have an easier time getting sober compared to others. Meanwhile, other people might need medical treatment at a rehabilitation center.

The road to recovery can be challenging, it can be painful, and you might get tempted to drink again. However, it’s important to keep going because it’ll be worth it in the long run.

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Benefits of “Dry January” 

Dry January started in 2012 as an initiative by a British charity. The initiative aimed to help people “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.”

Recent studies have found no evidence that light drinking might help keep people healthy. On average, drinking more than five drinks a week can take years off a person’s life.

Dry January gives people the opportunity to try a sober life. It can also help answer the question, "am I an alcoholic?"

As of today, millions of people participate in the Dry January challenge. Approximately 82 percent of participants felt a sense of achievement after successfully going a month alcohol-free.

When Someone Should Quit Drinking Permanently 

For some people, it may be safe to drink alcohol moderately with occasional breaks. 

On the other hand, some people should consider quitting drinking permanently rather than temporarily.

Quitting alcohol is strongly advised for people who:

  • Try cutting down but cannot stay within the limits they set
  • Have a medical condition that is caused or worsened by drinking
  • Take medications that interact with alcohol
  • Are or may become pregnant
  • Have experienced negative consequences from drinking alcohol (DUI, fights while drinking, repeated work or social embarrassments)

Anyone who feels that they have an alcohol addiction should also consider quitting drinking.

Common signs of alcohol addiction include the presence of any of these symptoms within the last year:

  • Drinking that interferes with home, work, or school responsibilities
  • Engaging in risky behavior while drinking
  • Legal problems caused by drinking
  • Drinking despite it causing problems with relationships
  • A higher alcohol tolerance or having to drink much more to get the desired effect
  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • An inability to stop or cut down on drinking
  • Spending excessive time drinking or being sick from the aftereffects
  • Giving up on or cutting back on activities that were important or interesting to drink
  • Drinking despite the presence of symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Experiencing memory blackouts
  • Experiencing intense cravings or urges to drink

Another sign of alcohol addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which include:

  • Tremors (shakes)
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations 
  • Seizures 

If you experience even one of these withdrawal symptoms, you should contact a medical professional to help you safely detox from alcohol.

How to Safely Detox from Alcohol

Speak with a doctor first before you reduce or quit alcohol. 

A doctor can give you medical advice based on your health, create a withdrawal plan, and help you prepare for withdrawal symptoms.

The best way to safely detox from alcohol is to receive inpatient care at a licensed rehabilitation facility, where you can receive on-call medical care to support you as you go through alcohol withdrawal.

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Updated on September 27, 2022
15 sources cited
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