What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can change the way your body functions at nearly every level, especially if you drink heavily. 

If you choose to stop drinking alcohol, be it because you have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or simply because you want to have more energy, your body will undergo some changes as it adjusts to not having alcohol.

Just as long-term heavy alcohol use has many health risks, abstaining from alcohol has several potential benefits for your body and health. 

Although it is likely to benefit you in the long-run, quitting alcohol can also result in a very difficult period of time as your body and mind adjust to life without alcohol. In people who are dependent on alcohol, this initial period after giving up the juice is called ‘withdrawal’.

In this article, we will give you all the information you need to know about giving up alcohol, including health benefits and details about withdrawal. Keep reading to learn more!

Withdrawal: The Dark Side of Quitting Alcohol

Anyone who is dependent on alcohol is likely to experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when they decide to quit drinking. Withdrawal acts as a barrier between addiction and recovery for many alcohol addicts. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be eased by drinking.

Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol has depressing (slowing) effects on the body and brain. When someone is dependent on alcohol, their body has adjusted to having a regular supply of this drug. This means that the brain and body produce chemicals and reactions with stimulating effects, to counteract alcohol’s depressing effects.

When you stop drinking, your body and brain continue to try to counteract alcohol’s effects, even though there is no longer any alcohol in your body. This can result in a set of very unpleasant and sometimes dangerous symptoms.

Eventually, your body ‘figures it out’, and returns to normal functioning.


Not everyone who stops drinking will feel alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and life-threatening. Alcohol withdrawal should be taken seriously and is most safely done at a detox center. 

Some mental symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Feeling restless, nervous, and anxious
  • Irritability
  • Huge mood swings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Bad dreams
  • Foggy thinking

Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:

  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Sweating

These symptoms may range from mild to severe. Some cases of alcohol withdrawal require medical attention. 

In rare cases, a very severe form of withdrawal, called Delirium Tremens (DT), may take place. DT usually occurs in people who have been heavy alcohol users for a long time. DT can be fatal and may include seizures, huge blood pressure changes, and tremors. 

Because withdrawal is unpredictable, you should always consult with a doctor before you stop drinking abruptly. The best place to stop drinking is at a detox center, where you will be kept safe and comfortable during this trying time.

Short-Term Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Don’t let withdrawal stand in your way of abstaining from alcohol. There are many benefits to quitting. Once your body goes through the initial adjustment period, you will likely start to feel much better than when you were drinking.

Some of the short-term benefits of quitting alcohol include:

  • Weight Loss: Alcohol is very high in calories, and it has a lot of sugar. A lot of people see their weight return to healthy levels when they stop drinking. When you stop drinking, you are also likely to have more energy and motivation to exercise. You may feel inspired to eat healthier and live a more healthy lifestyle overall, all of which can help you lose weight and feel good.
  • Brain Power: We’ve all heard that alcohol kills brain cells. Heavy drinking can lead to memory problems and issues with brain development. This is actually a big part of why the legal drinking age is 21. When you stop drinking, your brain is able to function normally and you don’t have to worry about these effects.
  • Increased Energy: When have you heard someone say that drinking heavily makes them want to get up and go on a run the next day? Alcohol is a depressant, and drinking is taxing on the body and brain. It can also make sleep more difficult. When you stop drinking, you are likely to notice a boost in energy from better sleep and less stress on your body overall.

Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Drinking has many very serious long-term health risks, and when you stop your alcohol intake, you are working to minimize these risks.

Some long-term benefits of abstaining from alcohol include:

  • Reduced risk of cancer: Alcohol is known to cause several types of cancer, especially when it is used heavily for a long time. When you stop drinking, you reduce your risk of getting cancer later in life.
  • Reduced risk of heart disease: Alcohol is also known to cause heart disease and other cardiovascular issues. Not drinking helps to regulate blood pressure and reduce fatty build-up in the arteries and heart, which means less risk for major issues like heart attack down the road.
  • Liver relief: Drinking is very hard on your liver. This organ is responsible for breaking down toxins, including those found in alcohol. Prolonged heavy drinking is almost guaranteed to lead to liver problems. 

Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

If you have been struggling with alcohol abuse, now is the time to act. Call Spring Hill Recovery today to learn how we can help you start a new chapter in your life. There has never been a better time to call.

  1. Cassata, C. (n.d.). Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Cut Out Alcohol for 30 Days. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-quit-alcohol-for-30-days#Benefits-of-Dry-January
  2. If You Quit Drinking, You May Experience These Withdrawal Symptoms. (2003, November 23). https://www.verywellmind.com/symptoms-of-alcohol-withdrawal-63791
  3. What to expect when you stop drinking. (n.d.). https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/advice/how-to-reduce-your-drinking/how-to-cut-down/what-to-expect-when-you-stop-drinking/

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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