So, you’ve decided to stop abusing alcohol start your journey to sobriety? Congratulations! Sobriety is an opportunity – the beginning of your journey towards a better mental health and physical health balance. For some, the idea of allowing yourself a fresh start can feel exciting. For others it may feel more daunting. What does sobriety look like the second you put down your last drink? Below is a well-rounded timeline that outlines what you may experience as you stop using and start your path towards sobriety.

12-24 Hours After You Quit

After your first 12-24 hours without alcohol, you may begin to start feeling the preliminary effects of alcohol withdrawal. Some common symptoms include: anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain. Also, because alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body, you may be feeling more dehydrated than you normally should.

To help you out during the first day, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat plenty of healthy food. Good nutrition is always a must, but could potentially help you more these next few hours. One positive during this time frame is that your blood sugar begins to normalize, starting your body’s detox process.

24-48 hours After You Quit

This time frame may be the most climactic in terms of withdrawal symptom onset. Some common symptoms you may experience include: high blood pressure, increased body temperature, breathing abnormalities, irregular heart rate, sweating, confusion, irritability, and mood disturbances.

Some less common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can also occur. The term for this grouping of symptoms is delirium tremens (DTs). Delirium tremens (DTs) only occurs in 3-5% of those experiencing alcohol withdrawal, but the symptoms are worth mentioning. The symptoms of DTs include: hallucinations, fever, agitation, severe confusion, and seizures. These symptoms may occur without warning. Without medical treatment, DTs can be fatal. If you used frequently, regularly, and in high quantities, you should complete your detox under the watch of a medical professional to ensure early treatment if you do have any of these symptoms.

Do not fret – after the 48-hour mark, the biggest alcohol detox hurdle is over! Blood pressure and body temperature should both begin to normalize, and things should be looking up from here.

72 hours After You Quit

Depending on how much you used, you may start to feel better. By now you might be feeling back to your normal self physically and mentally. Generally speaking, you might be done feeling the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, or at least beginning to notice them going away. If you used constantly and never allowed your body time without alcohol, then you probably are still experiencing symptoms at full force. Food cravings related to alcohol  (primarily cravings for carbohydrate rich foods) may also begin to subside.

5-7 days After You Quit

If you used frequently, regularly, and in high quantities, symptoms should start becoming less intense and you should start feeling generally better. Also, you begin to get deeper, more restful sleep than you did while you were using, increasing your energy and awareness. You begin to feel more hydrated, and as a result your skin starts looking fresher, and skin conditions like dandruff, rosacea, and eczema, if you have them, begin to improve.

One Month After You Quit

One month without alcohol should start to make a change on your liver. Liver fat can reduce, on average by 15%, allowing for improved function and a better ability to filter out toxins. The liver has finally gotten back to the point where it can do its job!

The fat doesn’t just start coming off of your liver, as by this time you may also begin to notice a decrease in belly fat. Alcohol contains many empty calories and increases appetite – one month without may start showing results on the waistline. The biggest improvement for your skin health generally occurs around the four-week mark as well.

Away from vanity, some positive changes for your mental health should also be made around this time. If you haven’t already, you should begin to seek out support for your recovery efforts. Whether it be a group, a therapist who specializes in addiction, or another addiction related professional, support during this time will help prevent a relapse. On average, the first six months of sobriety are the most difficult and have the highest rate of relapse. Getting support early on will help decrease that likelihood for you.

One Year After You Quit

By now, your liver should be fully restored to peak functioning. Also, many lose a significant amount of belly fat by this point, on average 13 lbs. Lastly, but arguably most importantly, your risk lowers drastically for mouth, liver, and breast cancer.

One year and beyond, you’ve made it so far on your journey towards sobriety. Keep moving forward and never forget how far you’ve come. Take some time to reflect on this process and every step you’ve actively made along the way to improve your physical and mental well-being.

One year down, forever to go.

If you need any support during your recovery from alcohol addiction, we at Williamsville Wellness are here to help. Call us at (804) 559-9959.

Further Reading:

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/alcohol
https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/alcohol-and-weight-gain/#gref
https://www.byrdie.com/what-does-alcohol-do-to-your-body

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