What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking?

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Choosing to give up alcohol is a major change, and can be more than a little intimidating. Among all of the ways it can impact you, you may be wondering, “what will happen to my body if I quit drinking?”

Giving up drinking affects each person’s body differently, but the results are overwhelmingly more positive than negative. Below, we’ll list nine major ways quitting drinking can benefit your body, both inside and out. You might be surprised how big a change you’ll see after even a month without alcohol.

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9 Ways Giving Up Alcohol Benefits Your Body

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1. Weight Loss

So, what happens to your body when you stop drinking? To start with, you’ll likely find it’s easier to lose weight. There are several good reasons for this:

  • Alcohol is full of empty calories—as are most mixers like fruit drinks and soda.
  • People often make worse dietary decisions when they are drinking.
  • Heavy drinking can affect your metabolism, causing your body to store more fat.
  • Alcohol use can leave you feeling tired and sluggish, and reduce your motivation to exercise.

In summary, quitting drinking can mean consuming fewer calories, a faster metabolism, better control over food cravings, and more energy. While some people do experience strong sugar cravings after giving up alcohol, in the long term weight loss is a common benefit of getting sober.

Read More: How Much Weight Will I Lose if I Stop Drinking Alcohol?

2. Improved Sleep

Sleep is important for productivity, concentration, immune function, and physical and emotional well-being. Poor sleep is linked to depression and higher body weight. It also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

While alcohol is well known for helping you drift off, it’s actually linked to poor sleep quality overall. Quitting drinking means you’ll likely sleep longer and more soundly. This might be especially relevant if you struggle with sleep apnea or insomnia; you might find you have far more energy than before!

Read More: Alcohol and Sleep: Does Drinking Make Insomnia Worse?

3. Stronger Immune System

When you give up alcohol, you’ll likely notice you get fewer colds and stomach aches than usual.

Research shows that alcohol has a negative impact on immune function(. Chronic drinkers and binge drinkers are more likely to have pneumonia and respiratory infections. They also experience poor wound healing and slower recovery from physical trauma and infection. When you stop drinking, you’ll get sick less often, and you’ll recover more quickly and completely from illness and injury.

Read More: Alcohol and Your Immune System: Does It Help or Hurt?

4. Better Digestion

Alcohol can damage your entire digestive system, from top to bottom. In the esophagus, it can cause acid reflux and symptoms of heartburn. In the stomach, it can irritate mucous membranes and wear down the protective lining, causing conditions like alcoholic gastritis. Finally, in the small intestine, heavy drinking can cause chronic inflammation, bacterial imbalance, poor nutrient absorption, and even gastrointestinal cancers.

Not surprisingly, heavy drinkers are at risk for a wide array of digestive illnesses, and often struggle with nutrition. Quitting alcohol gives your digestive system a chance to repair itself and get back to doing its job, which has a positive impact throughout your body.

Read More: Alcohol and Gut Health: Can Drinking Throw You Off Balance?

5. Liver Repair

Liver damage is one of the most notorious consequences of heavy alcohol use, and can range from mild to life-threatening. But while some liver damage can be permanent, you may be surprised how much your liver can repair itself once you eliminate alcohol.

Fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis are often reversible once you quit drinking. Even cirrhosis of the liver can improve in some cases. If you have any type of liver damage, giving up alcohol is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Read More: Early Signs of Liver Damage From Drinking

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6. Better Hydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urination and causes you to lose excess fluids. This is a major factor in hangovers, dry mouth, fatigue, and headaches.

Stopping or limiting drinking means you’ll be more hydrated. Hydration helps your organs function properly, ensures the delivery of nutrients to your cells, and regulates body temperature. Good hydration is even linked to improved cognition, better mood, and quality sleep.

Read More: Breaking the Seal: Why Does Alcohol Make You Pee More?

7. Better Skin

Alcohol affects your skin in several ways:

  • Chronic, heavy drinking can lead to deficiency in vitamin A, which is essential for skin health.
  • Alcohol can enlarge blood vessels, giving your skin a redder appearance.
  • Dehydration from alcohol can dry out your skin, resulting in faster development of wrinkles.

While severe skin damage may be irreversible, quitting drinking often helps your skin to regenerate and heal itself. Even by limiting your drinking, you may find your skin regains some of its glow.

Read More: The Effects of Alcohol on Your Skin

8. Lower Risk of Cancer

Alcohol is a carcinogen, meaning it promotes the formation of cancer. Research links alcohol to cancers of the head, mouth, neck, esophagus, breast, liver, colon, and rectum, among others. Heavy drinkers appear most affected, but even moderate drinkers have an elevated risk. Removing alcohol from your diet is one way to reduce your chances of developing cancer.

Read More: Alcohol and Cancer: The Risks and the Connection

9. Improved Heart Health

While we often hear that moderate drinking has benefits for the heart, heavy alcohol use can damage the heart muscle and cause abnormal heart rhythms. It also increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure. And, as it turns out, a lot of the supposed benefits of drinking wine in moderation can be gained by eating fruit and getting regular exercise.

In other words, giving up alcohol is likely to boost your heart health, and help you live a longer life.

Read More: Heart Disease and Alcohol

Challenges When Giving Up Alcohol

Of course, there are also many challenges your body will face when giving up drinking. Detox and withdrawal symptoms can be severe, especially if you drink heavily and regularly. Many people also experience strong sugar cravings or insomnia in early recovery. Then, there are the mental and emotional aspects of quitting alcohol, all of which can have an impact on your physical health.

However, in the big picture, most people who quit drinking experience a major boost in their health and well-being that far surpasses the downsides. Cutting alcohol out of your life long-term is one of the best things you can do for your body, and you’re sure to notice the positive impacts.

If you feel you’re dependent on alcohol, we encourage you to seek medical advice or support for the physical consequences of withdrawal. Otherwise, Ria’s online program offers regular coaching meetings and anti-craving medications that can help you stick with your goals long-term. It’s never been easier to change your relationship with alcohol. Get in touch with a member of our team today to learn more about how it works.

Written By:
Ashley Cullins
Freelance writer with contributions to numerous addiction blogs and a passion for relatable content.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
NYC-based content strategist with over 3 years editing and writing in the recovery space. Strong believer in accessible, empathic, and fact-based communication.
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