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Updated on July 31, 2023
9 min read

Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol

16 Physical & Mental Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol 

Alcohol is a psychoactive and toxic substance that can cause dependence.2 Today, alcoholic drinks are a routine part of many people’s social lives. 

In this context, it is easy to ignore or overlook the health and social damage caused or contributed by drinking alcohol. Chronic alcohol use changes the body's chemistry and functioning, which may negatively affect how it looks and functions. 

Some of these changes are reversible once a person quits drinking, while others will only stop progressing but not reverse. Some will continue to progress even after a person stops drinking.

Here are fourteen physical and mental health benefits of not drinking alcohol:

1. Better-Looking Skin

Heavy alcohol consumption can harm your skin. Drinking too much may lead to the following skin issues:12

  • Broken capillaries on your face and nose
  • Dehydration
  • Inflammation
  • Jaundice (with long-term alcohol use)
  • Reduced collagen levels, leading to loose, saggy skin
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea 

When you stop drinking alcohol, you eventually restore elasticity to the skin. The redness and yellowing of the complexion slowly disappear.

2. Improved Sleep

Excessive alcohol use and poor sleep are closely linked. This is because alcohol affects your sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep (and remain asleep). 

Alcohol also relaxes the muscles in the throat, making you more susceptible to sleep apnea and snoring.13

On the other hand, "passing out" after excessive drinking does not constitute quality sleep. You will not get the restorative functions that normal sleep provides.

You may expect some sleep issues in early alcohol recovery, but the longer you abstain from alcohol, the better improvements there are in your sleep quality.

3. Healthier Weight

Alcohol can derail your metabolism and stops your body from receiving the essential nutrients it requires. It is also filled with sugars and empty calories. Binge drinking can make you consume 600 calories or more in one night.

A large part of alcohol recovery is not just learning to quit drinking but discovering how to live a healthier lifestyle. This includes proper nutrition and exercise.

While everybody is different, achieving a healthy weight is a realistic goal for many people aiming to remain sober.

4. Better Mental Health

There is an increased rate of comorbidity between alcohol addiction and other mental illnesses.

These mental health disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

In 2019, approximately 9.5 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with a substance use disorder and mental illness. But nearly 60 percent didn’t receive treatment.7

5. Improved Immunity

Alcohol negatively interferes with your immune system, stopping it from producing enough white blood cells to fight germs and bacteria. This is one reason why many heavy drinkers experience pneumonia and tuberculosis. 

No longer consuming alcohol can also help prevent colds, the flu, and other illnesses you may have been unable to fight off due to chronic drinking.8

6. Enhanced Nutrition

Drinking can rob your body of vital nutrients. 

Many people who indulge in excessive alcohol consumption tend to ‘drink’ their meals. This leads them to eat less food required for:

  • Sufficient protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Alcohol can also interfere with the nutrition process. This can affect digestion, storage, utilization, and excretion of nutrients. Because of this, many heavy drinkers are malnourished.

As you quit drinking and begin working on a healthier way of life, your body may absorb nutrients better.

7. Lower Risk of Cancer

Alcohol is a recognized carcinogen. This means consuming it increases your risk of developing cancer.14

These types of cancer include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Throat cancer

8. Lower Risk of Accidents

In 2020, 11,654 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths. This was a 14 percent increase from cases recorded in 2019.15 This does not include other common accidents often intertwined with alcohol use, including burns, drownings, homicides, and more.

When you quit drinking alcohol, your chances of getting into an accident decrease significantly. 

9. A Healthier Liver

Your liver is in charge of ridding toxins from your body. Heavy drinking can take a toll on this organ, leading to other complications.

Luckily, the liver can regenerate and heal. When you stop drinking, you give your liver a chance to repair itself over time.

10. Better Sex Life

It’s not uncommon for a small amount of alcohol to make someone feel sexually charged. However, after more than a drink or two, alcohol can have the opposite effect. 

Men who are heavy drinkers often report difficulty getting or keeping an erection.16 Women who are heavy drinkers, on the other hand, may notice their sex drive is lower and have increased dryness.

11. Lower Blood Pressure

Drinking alcohol excessively can cause your blood pressure to rise. When you quit drinking, your blood pressure can revert to normal levels. 

It may also help you decrease the chances of cardiovascular disease. 

12. Relationships May Improve

Your mental and physical health aren’t the only things that may improve when you cut back or quit drinking alcohol. 

Adjusting your relationship with alcohol may help you avoid conflict with people who care about you. You may be moody, engage in inappropriate behavior, and experience impaired judgment when excessively drinking. All of which can often be avoided when sober. 

13. Lowered Risk of Dementia

Alcohol use and misuse have been linked to developing dementia. One study showed that 38.9 percent of people diagnosed with early onset dementia could be related to alcohol misuse.17

14. Better Gut Health

Alcoholic beverages can cause a series of stomach issues. Gastritis, or stomach lining inflammation, is common in heavy drinkers. This can cause acid reflux or the need to throw up. 

People who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should avoid drinking as it can worsen symptoms. 

15. Improved Memory & Cognitive Functions

Alcohol can have a significant impact on your mind. It can cause:

  • Slurred speech
  • Poor memory
  • Slow reflexes
  • Poor learning

When you stop drinking alcohol, your mind will be able to recover. This can greatly improve your memory and other cognitive functions.

16. Lower Risk of Heart Problems

Cutting back or quitting alcohol can be good for your heart. Once you stop drinking, you'll experience:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower triglycerides level
  • Lower risk of heart failure

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Will I Experience Alcohol Withdrawal?

Those who suddenly stop or reduce drinking after chronic or prolonged alcohol use may also experience the physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Depending on their alcohol use disorder severity, these withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe.

People who drank minimally may experience few or mild withdrawal symptoms, but excessive drinkers can experience harsher side effects. However, the benefits of quitting drinking can be worth the trouble.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:11 

  • Anxiety or nervousness 
  • Depression 
  • Fatigue 
  • Irritability
  • Shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Unclear thinking
  • Sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Enlarged (dilated) pupils
  • Headache 
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremor of the hands or other body parts
  • Agitation
  • Fever 
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Confusion

While these withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks, those in recovery will start to notice the improved effects of giving up alcohol in time.

How Long Before You Feel the Benefits of Not Drinking?

Alcohol withdrawal varies for everyone. There is no ‘normal’ way of experiencing it, and predicting a single person’s experience can be challenging. No doctor can determine how long it takes for the benefits to show.

Some report positive effects after a week of no drinking. Others may feel it takes months to notice them.

How Much Alcohol is OK to Drink?

Adults of legal drinking age can decide not to drink or to drink in moderation by reducing intake to two drinks or less a day for men and one drink or less a day for women.3

Drinking less is better than drinking more.


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Signs You Should Quit Drinking Alcohol 

The following are signs you should quit drinking alcohol.4

In the last year, have you: 

  • Experienced times when you ended up drinking more or longer than you intended? 
  • More than once, decided to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to but could not? 
  • Spent a significant amount of time drinking alcohol? Or being sick or getting a hangover? 
  • Experienced cravings—a strong need or desire to drink? 
  • Discovered that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with looking after your home or family, caused job problems or school issues? 
  • Stopped or cut back on activities that were important to you to drink? 
  • More than once gotten into circumstances while or following drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (e.g., driving, swimming, using heavy machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or engaging in unsafe sex)? 
  • Continued to drink even though it made you feel depressed or anxious or added to another health issue? Or following a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink considerably more than you once did to reach the effect you want? Or discovered that your typical number of drinks had much less effect than before? 
  • Found that when the effects of drinking were wearing off, you had alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

Treatment Options for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction 

There are a variety of treatment methods available for alcohol misuse and addiction. But keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is essential to understand that what may work for one person may not suit someone else.

Some common treatment options for alcohol addiction include:4


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Quitting Drinking Timeline

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the benefits of not drinking alcohol:

What happens after 4 days of not drinking?

For many of those who experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, day 4 of not drinking brings relief from severe symptoms. However, for others, this is when symptoms are just beginning.

Those who experience the most severe and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms do not begin to have them until day 2 or 3. These withdrawal symptoms can include hallucinations and seizures.

What happens to your body after a week of not drinking?

Many people will experience improved sleep after a week of not drinking. However, it can take up to a month or longer for some.

What happens after 2 weeks of no alcohol?

After 2 weeks of no alcohol, you may continue to enjoy the health benefits of better sleep and hydration.

Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining, so after 2 weeks, you will also notice a reduction in symptoms like acid reflux. This is where the stomach acid burns your throat.

After 2 weeks, you will likely lose weight after giving up alcohol’s empty calories. This is not true for everyone, though.

Not all people lose weight after quitting drinking; some gain weight. This is particularly true if people replace alcohol with high-caloric foods and beverages.

What happens if you stop drinking for 30 days?

After giving up alcohol for 30 days, you will experience improved mood, better sleep, increased energy, and better physical and mental performance.

You’ll also lower your risk of serious health issues, save money, and improve relationships with loved ones.

What happens to your body 3 months after quitting drinking?

After 3 months of no drinking, the liver and cells throughout the body heal and experience significant change. Energy levels will also begin to rise.

Updated on July 31, 2023
18 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Alcohol Use and Your Health.”,  2021.
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). “Alcohol.”
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2020.
  4.  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.”, 2021.
  5. Al-Jefri et al. “High prevalence of alcohol use disorders in patients with inflammatory skin diseases.” The British journal of dermatology. 2017.
  6. Perney, Pascal, and Philippe Lehert. “Insomnia in Alcohol-Dependent Patients: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Acamprosate Effect: An Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis.” Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), 2018.
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.”, 2018.
  8. Brand et al. “Skin Immunization Obviates Alcohol-Related Immune Dysfunction.” Biomolecules, 2015.
  9. Rossi et al. “Diagnosis and treatment of nutritional deficiencies in alcoholic liver disease: Overview of available evidence and open issues.” Digestive and liver disease: official journal of the Italian Society of Gastroenterology and the Italian Association for the Study of the Liver, 2015.
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Alcohol and Cancer.” 2019.
  11. MedlinePlus. “Alcohol withdrawal.”, 2019.
  12. Kazakevich et al. “Alcohol and skin disorders: with a focus on psoriasis.” Skin Therapy Lett, 2011.
  13. Simou et al. “Alcohol and the risk of sleep apnoea: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Sleep Med, 2018.
  14. Bagnardi et al. “Alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer: a meta-analysis.” Alcohol Res Health, 2001.
  15. NHTSA. “Drunk Driving | Statistics.”
  16. Maisto et al. “Research on the Effects of Alcohol and Sexual Arousal on Sexual Risk in Men who have Sex with Men: Implications for HIV Prevention Interventions”. AIDS Behav., 2016.
  17. Michael Schwarzinger, et al. “Contribution of alcohol use disorders to the burden of dementia in France 2008–13: a nationwide retrospective cohort study”. The Lancet Public Health, 2018.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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