What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Drinking? The decision to quit drinking alcohol is a profound one, and it can be liberating to detach oneself from such a destructive and addictive substance. For those who have used alcohol for a long time, quitting drinking can mark a moment of change and progress in their life where they prioritize their health over their desire to consume alcohol.
However, after making such an important decision, there can be several effects that the sudden cessation of alcohol may have on the brain. While quitting drinking is undoubtedly a step towards a healthier, sober future, being prepared for the difficult steps involved in how to quit drinking alcohol is paramount to help each person through the difficult process, and there may be some unexpected effects that the cessation of alcohol can have on each individual.
Effects on the Brain From Quitting Alcohol
Quitting drinking has several immediate effects on the brain, especially for those who may engage with alcohol regularly. This intoxication can fundamentally alter one’s brain chemistry, so when an individual stops drinking alcohol, the brain may begin to rapidly try to readjust itself towards balanced homeostasis. Those who suffer from addiction may have the most difficult time during this phase, as the brain is suddenly denied something that it believes is necessary for regular function, resulting in the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms soon after a person has taken their last drink.
Alcohol also greatly affects a person’s senses, and the cessation of alcohol intake can begin to restore some of these senses to their regular function. This can feel like lifting a “haze” that may surround a person’s thoughts and feelings while under the consistent influence of alcohol. While reaching this point is often preceded by some difficult withdrawal symptoms, this newly obtained clarity can truly illustrate how much of an impact alcohol can have on a person’s mind and body, reinforcing one’s decision to stop drinking alcohol.
Along with this clarity comes a more open and accepting mind about one’s surroundings. Those who suffer from an addiction to alcohol often have their minds constantly bombarded with thoughts of its use — such as figuring out how long one has to wait until they can drink again or how they can sneak alcohol into their daily routines. As the brain learns to subsist without the need for alcohol, this mental power can be instead geared towards one’s professional development, personal relationships, and other interests or hobbies instead of always fixating on a world ruled by alcohol.
The Effects of Quitting on the Body
The body can also suffer a great deal from the consistent use of alcohol, and allowing the body proper time to heal from one’s use of alcohol is a vital part of the healing experience. While it is common for an individual to first experience discomfort upon the cessation of alcohol use, these symptoms will subside in time. These symptoms frequently include aches and pains, nausea, shakes, and spasms.
Thankfully, quitting drinking also leaves time for the body to recover, enabling the liver to repair itself. Furthermore, one’s sleep routines, dietary intake, and overall hydration should all improve as well. An individual will also have a decreased risk of developing alcohol-related diseases or illnesses and an overall increased ability to resist even common illnesses as their body, including the immune system, has more energy to return to normal functioning levels.
One’s skin can also be especially telling, as the increased hydration can help skin recover from being dry or weak and discolored to being a more resilient part of the body while also acting as an effective indication of one’s progress in recovery.
How Long Symptoms Last – The Timeline of Healing
Allowing the brain and body to heal takes time, and while there are many effects that quitting drinking has on the body and brain, a person won’t experience all of these changes at once. Rather, they may begin to notice these changes over time.
Immediately After Quitting to Two Weeks Sober
This is the most challenging period of sobriety, as the body and mind may still be expecting alcohol in the system. This is also where withdrawal symptoms are strongest, and aches, pains, anxiety, depression, and other uncomfortable symptoms will manifest. At the end of this phase, individuals typically will begin to notice the “lifting of the haze” from their minds, allowing for greater clarity revolving around their new sobriety going forward. The progress during this time is mostly mental and emotional, so there is no need to worry if one’s skin hasn’t cleared up during this time.
One Month Sober
After a month, one’s focus can noticeably improve. It is also common for the body to begin to establish regular sleep patterns better and adopt a new diet. Some withdrawal symptoms may still be prevalent and can hinder the healing process, but there can also be a noticeable change in one’s mind and body.
This is the phase that isn’t linked to a particular time frame. Each individual will begin to experience their own extended sobriety depending on their recovery path and adherence to their newfound sobriety. However, those who reach this phase will finally experience a great deal of mental clarity.
This time has also allowed the liver to begin to heal and repair itself, and one’s glucose levels may even begin to drop. Skin can become hydrated and recolored and can even be more resistant to scratches, scars, or punctures. Better resilience against disease is also common, and one’s newfound healthy diet, increased appetite, and resilience to common illnesses can all work to continue decreasing the effects of anxiety or depression that may be lingering. This can help to create a whole new outlook on one’s life, involving both body and mind.
Learning how to stop drinking is just as important as deciding to stop in the first place, and it is crucial to be prepared for the various ways that one’s body and mind may be affected when they stop drinking. At Chateau Recovery, we are prepared to help you better understand and cope with the transformative nature of sobriety and addiction recovery. Your time with us can be personalized to your own interests and best practices, all while establishing yourself in a supportive community and relaxing atmosphere at our facility. Education, individual and group therapy, meditation, art therapy, and much more are all available to you, along with extensive trauma support and relapse prevention programs to help you better maintain the strides you make while in recovery. For more information on the various ways in which we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique experiences, call Chateau Recovery today at (435) 222-5225.