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Benefits of Cutting Out Alcohol for 30 Days

Reducing or quitting alcohol can improve your well-being in many ways. 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

Who Benefits From an Alcohol-Free Month?

Anyone can benefit from an alcohol-free month. There are no negatives of going alcohol-free for a month for most people, besides making some minor adjustments to your social life and exchanging your alcoholic beverage for water at happy hour.

Alcohol Free Month

However, if someone has an addiction, they should not suddenly go without alcohol. Someone with an alcohol addiction will need professional detox to guide them through withdrawal or face the consequences resulting from withdrawal symptoms.

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What Happens During 30 Days Without Alcohol?

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), which is the most physically vital part of sleep.
  2. REM sleep, which 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.

Less Bloating

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

Alcohol causes bloating for a couple of reasons. 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. Also, because alcohol is a diuretic, it causes the body to retain water, leading to more bloating.

Possible Weight Loss

People who give up alcohol, even temporarily, are likely to 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What Happens After 30 Days Without Alcohol?

During the first week of going alcohol-free, you may not notice much of a difference. It can take days before you feel back to normal after heavy drinking. Bouncing back from drinking includes ridding the body of alcohol, catching up on sleep, and cutting out other bad habits which may have coincided.

It usually takes at least two weeks of consistently not drinking to notice results, assuming all other factors stay the same.

You might start to notice some positive side effects after stopping drinking for just a few days, including less bloating and some slight weight loss due to the hefty calorific content of many alcoholic drinks.

Going without drinking will also help users understand their drinking habits better and build a healthier relationship with alcohol.

Benefits of “Dry January” 

“Dry January” is when many people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol for all of January. 

The goal of Dry January is to start the new year on a sober, clearer, more refreshed, and healthy note.

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

Millions of people now participate in the challenge.

The growing awareness comes as recent studies have found no evidence that light drinking might help keep people healthy. Drinking more than five drinks weekly on average can take years off a person’s life.

Approximately 82 percent of participants of Dry January 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
  • Are taking a medication that interacts with alcohol
  • Are or may become pregnant

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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Resources

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“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, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-use-disorder-comparison-between-dsm

“Alcohol Withdrawal.” Harvard Health, Harvard University Medical School, www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/alcohol-withdrawal-a-to-z

Canan, Fatih, and Ahmet Ataoglu. “Panic disorder after the end of chronic alcohol abuse: a report of 2 cases.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry vol. 10,4 (2008): 332-3. doi:10.4088/pcc.v10n0411d https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528232/

“Could You Go without Alcohol for a Month?” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 31 Dec. 2014, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/better-sleep-skin-bellies-could-you-stop-drinking-alcohol-month-9951533.html

“Dry January Could Be the Health Boost You Need in 2021 after Pandemic Stress.” TODAY.com, The Today Show, 30 Dec. 2020, https://www.today.com/health/dry-january-what-it-what-are-benefits-women-t146331

Harvey-Jenner, Catriona. “Here's How Quitting Alcohol Actually Affects Your Body.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, 6 Oct. 2017, www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/body/health/news/a46457/how-quitting-alcohol-affects-body/

“How Can You Reduce or Quit Alcohol?” Australian Government Department of Health, Australian Government Department of Health, 24 Apr. 2019, www.health.gov.au/health-topics/alcohol/about-alcohol/how-can-you-reduce-or-quit-alcohol

Irwin, Christopher et al. “The effects of dehydration, moderate alcohol consumption, and rehydration on cognitive functions.” Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.) vol. 47,3 (2013): 203-13. doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2012.12.016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23352231/

MacSweeney, Eve. “Goodbye, Dry January! What 30 Days Without Alcohol Will Do for You.” Vogue, Vogue, 1 Feb. 2018, www.vogue.com/article/dry-january-no-alcohol-for-30-days-commitment-health-benefits

Malacoff, Julia. “The Health Benefits of Ditching Alcohol Are Pretty Damn Convincing.” Shape, Meredith, 19 Nov. 2018, www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/benefits-not-drinking-alcohol

Montell, Amanda. “I Quit Drinking for 30 Days-Here's What It Did to My Mind, Body, and Skin.” Byrdie, Dotdash, www.byrdie.com/effects-of-alcohol.

Naughton, Julia. “These Are The Least Bloating Alcoholic Drinks. You're Welcome.” HuffPost Australia, HuffPost Australia, 23 Sept. 2020, www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/11/09/these-are-the-least-bloating-alcoholic-drinks-youre-welcome_a_21602777/

Page, Danielle. “How I Learned to Cope with Stress When I Gave up Alcohol on the Whole30 Diet.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Jan. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/how-i-learned-cope-stress-during-30-day-alcohol-detox-ncna809406

“To Cut down or to Quit ... - Rethinking Drinking - NIAAA.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/thinking-about-a-change/Its-up-to-you/To-Cut-Down-Or-To-Quit.aspx

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