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Updated on February 1, 2022

What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol can take a significant toll on your body, especially if you drink often or heavily. When you quit alcohol use or cut back on your alcohol consumption, you may notice changes.

Even after just a month of stopping drinking, your body is likely to benefit significantly. You'll notice better hydration, improved sleep, and increased productivity.

Likewise, your liver, stomach, and skin will benefit from no alcohol. You'll also reduce your calorie intake, so you may notice weight loss.

The Benefits of Quitting Drinking

There are various short and long-term benefits of quitting drinking.

Here’s what can happen when you stop drinking alcohol.4 You:

  • May have more energy since alcohol is a depressant
  • May feel more productive with better sleep and an increased ability to focus
  • Decrease your risk of alcohol-related illnesses. For example, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, and more
  • Decrease your risk of alcohol-related mental health issues. For example, depression and anxiety
  • Will feel generally healthier with an improved immune system
  • May experience weight loss, since alcohol is full of carbs
  • Won’t feel the effects of a hangover
  • Will notice memory, mood, and concentration improvements
  • Will have healthier skin

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal refers to the changes your body goes through when you stop drinking after a prolonged period or after heavy alcohol use.5

People with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and heavy drinkers may experience alcohol withdrawal when they quit drinking. 

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms peak in about 48 hours. They should start to improve as the body adjusts to being without alcohol. This usually takes 3 to 7 days.

Some health problems associated with alcohol withdrawal include:


Tremors typically start within the first 5 to 10 hours after your last alcoholic drink. They peak around 24 to 48 hours.

They may or may not be accompanied by:

  • A fast heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Other symptoms

Alcohol hallucinosis

Alcohol hallucinations tend to begin within 12 to 24 hours after your last drink. They can last as long as two days. 

Alcohol withdrawal seizures

Seizures can occur about six to 48 hours after your last drink. It’s not uncommon for several episodes to happen within several hours.

Delirium tremens (DTs)

Delirium tremens (DTs) typically begin 2 to 3 days after your last alcoholic drink. They peak around 4 to 5 days after it.

It causes severe shifts in your breathing, circulation, and temperature control that can be dangerous to your health.

Symptoms can include:

  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Irrational beliefs
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations

Death can occur.

These are not the only effects of alcohol withdrawal. It’s essential to consult a professional if you are experiencing symptoms.

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What Happens if You Quit Alcohol as a Moderate Drinker?

There is some evidence that light to moderate drinking is good for you. However, it pales in comparison to the findings showing that it isn't.8

Some research suggests low levels of alcohol consumption can have protective effects on diabetes and ischemic heart disease. However, scientists reported that the 'safest level of drinking is none.'9

Any amount of alcohol use links to worsening health conditions. However, the risk also depends on how much a person drinks.

Even if you quit alcohol as a moderate drinker, among other benefits, you can expect improved:

  • Sleep
  • Mental health
  • Mood
  • Productivity
  • Focus

How to Safely Treat Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

You can safely treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms through various rehab and detox options.

If you’re at home, follow these tips:1

  • Eat a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced diet
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
  • Boost your electrolytes with drinks like sports beverages. An imbalance can lead to seizures
  • Practice self-care to relax. Think hot showers, deep-breathing exercises, meditation, etc
  • Call a human services rehab center for help if you’re struggling with alcohol use disorder. Your symptoms may be life-threatening if you don't get the proper care 

There are also detox programs available. They offer medically assisted or supervised ways to detox, typically with medication.

Benzodiazepines, for example, are a class of sedative medications.

Doctors often prescribe them to treat:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures

These are all symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Some detox programs are held in hospitals or inpatient facilities. Others can be done at outpatient clinics.

You may choose to explore both inpatient and outpatient rehab options. Rehab centers will place you with credible medical professionals who will be with you throughout the process of weaning yourself off alcohol.

What happens when you stop drinking for a month?

If you stop drinking for a month, you may notice the health benefits. This is especially if you drink more than just a glass of wine here and there.

You may find that you feel more energized and can focus better with boosted brainpower. You may also lose some weight, be more hydrated, get better-quality sleep, and generally feel healthier as you have a decreased risk of developing alcohol-related diseases.

Do you lose weight when you stop drinking?

While not everyone will lose weight when they stop drinking, you may lose some. Alcohol contains extra calories, can make you hungrier, increase your impulsivity to make poor diet decisions, and redistribute fat.

One of the side effects of heavy drinking is weight gain. So if you stop drinking, you may lose weight.

Plus, when you have better sleep quality and more energy from being alcohol-free, you can also lose weight from increased exercise.

Can your liver heal when you stop drinking?

Your liver is there to filter toxins. Alcohol is toxic to your cells.
Excessive drinking can take a toll on your liver, potentially leading to fatty liver, cirrhosis, and other issues. The good news is that your liver can repair itself and even regenerate when you stop drinking.
It's always worth drinking less or quitting.

What happens to your liver when you stop drinking?

Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to severe liver damage.

The liver processes alcohol (the ethanol) with the help of enzymes that help with digestion. Too much alcohol can damage those enzymes and lead to cell death.

The liver may heal with time. It won’t necessarily happen the next day. The healing process can take just a few days to a few weeks after you stop drinking. Though if the damage is severe, it can take months to heal. If too much scar tissue develops as cells die (a condition known as liver cirrhosis), your liver may not be able to function as it should.

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Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

Here are some of the best treatment options for alcohol use disorder (AUD):

Inpatient programs 

Inpatient treatment is an option for alcohol addiction treatment. These intensive programs are usually 30, 60, or 90 days. However, they can be longer in some instances.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs are also called intensive outpatient programs or IOPs. They're like inpatient programs, but you return home after each session.

Outpatient programs

Outpatient programs are less intensive and offer a more flexible treatment schedule. They're best for people who have responsibilities at work, home, or school and are highly motivated to achieve sobriety.

Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)

Certain people qualify for medication-assisted therapy. Medications can help you detox, reduce cravings, and normalize bodily functions.

MAT is most effective when combined with other treatment therapies.

Support groups

Support groups are peer-led groups that help people stay sober. They can be a first step in overcoming alcoholism or a component of an aftercare plan.

Many of them follow the 12-step approach. However, there are also secular options that don't follow the 12-step approach.

Call to find out how much your insurance will cover
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  1. “Can You Manage Alcohol Withdrawal At Home?” Turning Point Addiction Treatment In Southaven MS, 13 Nov. 2019
  2. “Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Sept. 2020
  3. Myrick, Hugh, and Raymond F. Anton. “Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  4. Priory Group. “The Benefits of Giving up Alcohol for a Month.” Priory Group
  5. Publishing, Harvard Health. “Alcohol Withdrawal.” Harvard Health
  6. “Schedule Your Appointment Online.” How Quickly The Liver Can Repair Itself | Piedmont Healthcare
  7. Traversy, Gregory, and Jean-Philippe Chaput. “Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update.” Current Obesity Reports, Springer US, Mar. 2015
  8. Yes, it’s true: Wine is good for you — to a point, USC News, University of Southern California, January 2018
  9. Griswold, MG & Fullman, Nancy & Hawley, C & Arian, Nicholas & Zimsen, Stephanie & Tymeson, HD & Venkateswaran, V & Tapp, AD & Forouzanfar, Mohammad & Salama, JS & Abate, Kalkidan & Abate, D & Abay, Solomon & Cristiana, Abbafati & Suliankatchi, Rizwan & Abebe, Zegeye & Aboyans, Victor & Abrar, MM & Acharya, Pawan & Teshome, Adane. . Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet. 392.

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