Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on December 30, 2022
10 min read

30 Days Without Alcohol

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.15

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.15

Some people even participate in Dry January to see the benefits of quitting alcohol. Dry January is an initiative that challenges people to try a sober life for 30 days. It has been an effective initiative, and many participants felt a sense of achievement after an alcohol-free month.9


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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. If you start feeling withdrawal symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately.

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: 4

  1. Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) is a 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 a slimmer face and torso due to less bloating caused by alcohol. Alcohol is an inflammatory substance that causes swelling in the body.

The inflammation is worsened by things often mixed with alcohol, like sugary and carbonated liquids. This results in:12

  • Gas
  • Discomfort
  • 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.10

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.13

When our blood alcohol content increases, we become more emotionally unstable as we experience impairments in memory and comprehension. This emotional instability makes managing stress while intoxicated even more challenging than 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.3

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 much faster than other liquids.8

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 is expelled as urine.8 Since you’re not reabsorbing water as much as you usually would, you get 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.10

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. 4, 10

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:10,11,12

  • Cancer: cancer for 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
  • Mental illness: Alcohol abuse can worsen the symptoms of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety
  • Diseases of the liver and pancreas: alcohol causes alcoholic liver disease, alcoholic liver cirrhosis, and alcohol-induced acute or chronic pancreatitis
  • Infectious diseases: Alcohol can weaken the immune system making you more susceptible to infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV, and pneumonia. 
  • Diabetes - often caused by heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Violence and injury: alcohol-induced aggression and violence that leads to conflict or injury
  • Self-harm and suicide: Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of suicide and self-harm
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What to Expect When You Quit Drinking

Here’s a timeline of what you'll experience when you don’t drink alcohol for a month:16

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.

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 feel 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 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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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.

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

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)

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

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

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

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. You can receive on-call medical care to support you through alcohol withdrawal.

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Updated on December 30, 2022
16 sources cited
Updated on December 30, 2022
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM–IV and DSM–5.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021.
  2. Newman et al. "Alcohol Withdrawal." Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2021.
  3. Canan, F., and Ahmet, A. “Panic disorder after the end of chronic alcohol abuse: a report of 2 cases.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 2008.
  4. Could You Go without Alcohol for a Month?” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 2014.
  5. Dry January Could Be the Health Boost You Need in 2021 after Pandemic Stress.”, The Today Show, 2020.
  6. Harvey-Jenner, C.. “Here's How Quitting Alcohol Actually Affects Your Body.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan,  2017.
  7. How Can You Reduce or Quit Alcohol?” Australian Government Department of Health, Australian Government Department of Health, 2019.
  8. Irwin et al. “The effects of dehydration, moderate alcohol consumption, and rehydration on cognitive functions.” Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.), 2013.
  9. MacSweeney, E. “Goodbye, Dry January! What 30 Days Without Alcohol Will Do for You.” Vogue, Vogue, 2018.
  10. Lefave, S. “How My Life Changed for the Better When I Quit Drinking for a Month" Shape, Meredith, 2019.
  11. Montell, A. “What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol.” Byrdie, Dotdash. 2022
  12. Naughton, J. “These Are The Least Bloating Alcoholic Drinks. You're Welcome.” HuffPost Australia, HuffPost Australia,  2020.
  13. Page, D. “How I Learned to Cope with Stress When I Gave up Alcohol on the Whole30 Diet.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 2020.
  14. To Cut down or to Quit ... - Rethinking Drinking - NIAAA.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  15. Mehta et al. “Short-term abstinence from alcohol and changes in cardiovascular risk factors, liver function tests and cancer-related growth factors: a prospective observational study.” BMJ open, 2018.
  16. "Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms: What You Need to Know." WebMD.

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