What Happens When You Stop Drinking? Here’s What You Need To Know

What happens to your body when you stop drinking? Alcohol is a poison. Every time you drink, the liver has to convert the alcohol into acetaldehyde (a potentially more toxic form of alcohol), then it turns that into acetic acid (vinegar) before finally turning that into carbon dioxide and water.

Your liver can only process so much alcohol at a time, so when you drink more than it can handle, the excess booze accumulates in your bloodstream and tissues. This is what makes you feel drunk. When you stop drinking, the booze is still there, and your body has to work overtime to clear it all out.

Your body goes through a number of changes when you stop drinking, many of which are unpleasant.
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Here’s what you can expect:

  1. You may experience withdrawal symptoms. Suddenly, stopping the drink can trigger uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like shaking, sweating, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually peak within the first 72 hours after you stop drinking, and can last up to two weeks.
  2. You may feel depressed or anxious. Alcohol boosts the brain’s chemical serotonin, which is linked with feelings of happiness and relaxation. When you stop drinking, your serotonin levels drop – and that might lead to depression and anxiety. These symptoms usually go away after a few weeks, but in the meantime, it’s not unusual to crave alcohol as a way to cope.
  3. You may have trouble sleeping at night. Your body needs time to recover from the effects of drinking, which often means you aren’t getting enough sleep during the first few days after stopping. If being tired is unmanageable, try limiting your caffeine intake and avoiding strenuous activity in the evening.
  4. You may have headaches. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often. When you stop drinking, your body goes into dehydration mode, which can lead to severe headaches. To ease the pain, drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter painkillers.
  5. You may have trouble concentrating. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s ability to transmit signals, which can lead to problems with focus and concentration.
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    This usually improves over time, but it can take a few weeks for your cognitive function to return to normal.
  6. Your appetite may increase. Alcohol suppresses the appetite, but when you stop drinking your body’s hunger hormones return to normal levels. The result is that you may suddenly feel hungry and have trouble keeping your food down. Drink plenty of fluids, eat small meals often, and try not to overeat.
  7. You may be more tired than usual. Recovering from serious alcohol abuse can leave you feeling lethargic and have a profound effect on your sleep pattern. If you notice that you need a lot more rest than usual, don’t push yourself to stay active – just take care of yourself and get plenty of rest.
  8. You may have trouble concentrating. When alcohol accumulates in the bloodstream it can cause the central nervous system to become depressed. This may result in a lack of concentration, poor judgment, and slowed reflexes.
  9. You may experience physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, and nausea.
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    These are all signs that the body is trying to rid itself of the alcohol. It’s wise to contact a clinic like you need support through these times.
  10. You may have mood swings. Alcohol can affect the balance of chemicals in the brain, which can lead to mood swings and irritability. If mood swings become unmanageable, speak to your doctor. It may be possible to treat them with medication.

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