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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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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.
If you have an addiction or alcohol use disorder, you shouldn't suddenly stop using alcohol. You'll need a professional detox to minimize the effects of alcohol withdrawal.
If you start to get shaky and tremorous from not drinking alcohol every 4 to 5 hours, you definitely need a professional detox. If you start feeling withdrawal symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately.
Here’s what can happen if you quit drinking alcohol for a month:
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 actually reduces the quality and quantity of sleep.
Alcohol can disrupt the two most essential parts of our sleep: 4
Most light to moderate drinkers who reduce their alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether will see the quality of their sleep improve relatively quickly.
People who give up alcohol will likely 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
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
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
Going booze-free can elevate your energy levels. Drinking depletes your supply of B vitamins, which are crucial for sustained energy.
Having better sleep can also improve your energy and focus. Additionally, you'll spend less time recovering from hangovers and other side effects from drinking alcohol.
Alcohol causes dehydration. It's a diuretic that causes your body to remove fluids from your blood much faster than other liquids.8 So, abstaining from alcohol will allow your body to absorb more water and help you stay better hydrated.
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.
Abstaining from drinking means that you will no longer suffer from hangovers. You'll often wake up feeling normal and refreshed rather than experiencing:10
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.
Giving up drinking offers many positive health benefits and reduces the risk of adverse consequences associated with long-term alcohol consumption. Abstaining from alcohol lowers your risk of developing the following:10,11,12
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Here’s a timeline of what you'll experience when you don’t drink alcohol for a month:16
You’ll start feeling withdrawal symptoms within six hours when you stop drinking. During the first 24 hours of no alcohol, you’ll experience:
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.
For many people, the third day is the worst of the withdrawal period. During this time, you might experience:
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, these 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:
Once two weeks have passed, almost everyone will start to see improvements in their health. Here are a few noticeable changes during this time:
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.
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. Seek medical attention if you’re still experiencing symptoms after three weeks.
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:
After almost a month of no alcohol, most people will start to notice physical and emotional changes. These changes include:
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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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:
Common signs of alcohol addiction include the presence of any of these symptoms within the last year:
Another sign of alcohol addiction is experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which include:
If you experience even one of these withdrawal symptoms, you should contact a medical professional to help you safely detox from alcohol. Severe alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
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.
If you find it difficult to quit alcohol for 30 days or stop drinking altogether, you should consider treatment. There are various treatment programs available to help you quit drinking alcohol.
However, it's important to reach out to a doctor first. They can provide recommendations for treatment plans and facilities that can cater to your needs.
Available treatment options include:
Chaing your drinking habits or quitting alcohol for a month can drastically improve your overall health. It can improve your sleep, energy, hydration levels, and weight.
Throughout the 30 days, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms as your body adjusts to the lack of alcohol. But, over time, you'll start to feel healthier and even lose the urge to drink.
However, not everyone should quit alcohol for 30 days. People who struggle with AUD or severe alcohol withdrawal should contact a doctor first.
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