Quitting Alcohol. A Recovery Timeline
Quitting alcohol is probably one of the greatest improvements that you can do to your health, both physically and mentally.
Alcohol is not good for your body or your mind, and is one of the most potent addictions on the face of this planet. It is often said that – was alcohol discovered today, there is no chance that it would be legal.
Drinking alcohol for many years – putting a very strong poison through in your body – takes its toll on you. This does not mean that these damages are irreversible, in fact from the moment that you stop drinking, the benefits can be noticeable.
As a person’s body stops having alcohol put through it, it starts to recover.
The recovery timeline from alcohol varies on many things, person, lifestyle, general health, units consumed, time period, and many more variables….but there are also some very commonalities which we have gathered together below.
Let’s talk about the actual recovery timeline when a person quits alcohol.
When discussing the actual timeline for alcohol recovery, this starts from the second that you stop putting alcohol in your system. Right there and then, for the purposes of time-measuring 🙂
Alcohol is not something that is meant to be going through your body, it is something that has been engineered by humans to put in, but nature did not intend this to happen. When you stop doing this to your body, you work your way along the alcohol recovery timeline, and your body and mind start to improve.
From the moment you stop drinking, your body and mind start to heal. You will notice improvements in all aspects of your health. From feeling more alert, sleeping better, looking better, and gaining more energy – the benefits are really out of this world!
- How long does it take to see recovery improvements?
- What does the quitting alcohol recovery timeline look like?
- And what should you expect along the way?
These are all great questions. Exactly how long the alcohol benefits recovery timeline is, varies from person to person. But there are clear cut time-periods when you will experience changes – positive changes – within yourself.
What is the timeline to detox from alcohol
From a clinical perspective, your body takes 1-2 weeks to completely detox from alcohol. During this time you may experience alcohol withdrawals, night sweats, nausea and a general feeling of physical exhaustion.
As alcohol is a very strong poison, it not only affects you physically but mentally.
Mental detox from alcohol can take longer. It has been reported of feeling low in mood, irritability, poor sleep, headaches and a whole host of other mental challenges.
This is quite normal and in my opinion, something that has to be ridden out.
But as time goes on, your mental state just gets better and better. It is so worth the bad times, for the good times ahead.
Alcohol Recovery Timeline – step by step
What happens when you quit alcohol
6 hours after quitting alcohol
Within 6 hours of stopping alcohol, your liver is already working to clear your body of alcohol. Remember, the drink is essentially a poison and the liver has to work hard so that it doesn’t kill us.
Once you stop throwing the drink inside your body, your liver gets a chance to do what it is designed to do rather than fighting fire!
These initial symptoms can include feeling tired or fatigued, increased sweating – your body getting rid of the alcohol from your system, tremors in your hands and feelings of anxiety.
Sounds bad? Honestly, it is a small part – a small sacrifice compared to the amazing benefits you will experience within your quitting alcohol recovery timeline. Tiny, in fact.
12-24 hours after quitting alcohol
The symptoms that you experience within the first 6 hours often continue. You may start to feel your mood dip which is common – as is lowered energy levels and general feeling of lethargy.
When you are at this point, your main focus would be on just getting through the times. Getting these hours and days under your belt. Using distraction techniques in the early days can help pass the time. Do what is needed to get through it and push through it.
When someone quits alcohol, the first day would feel like any regular day for the person. If you have been drinking dand get a hangover then this would be the case. As time passes and the hangover ‘clears’, often a period of anxiety, nausea or tremors may occur.
If you are detoxing at home, it is always advised to seek medical advice in this instance.
In the first 6-12 hours without alcohol it is important to stay hydrated, eat as well as possible and avoid fatty or sugary foods. If nausua is present then just eat whatever your stomach can tolerate. This improves with time.
2-3 days into the timeline of quitting alcohol
After 2-3 days of horrible feelings that I have just described, these feelings usually start to become less – or certainly more manageable. You will get used to the feeling of ‘feeling rough’, and already your body is working in the background to cope with the physical symptoms. Tremors will lessen (if you experience these), and the feeling of sickness will drop.
Knowing the potential problems that you might face, it would be a great idea to arm yourself with things to counter these issues. Shop for some good foods before, and find activities to occupy your time.
7 days after quitting alcohol – timeline
From a clinical perspective – not drinking for 1-2 weeks is when you have physically become ‘detoxed’ from alcohol. This is a big step in your journey to becoming alcohol-free on the quitting alcohol recovery timeline. Bravo!!
After you have removed alcohol from your body, sleep may well be a problem in the early days. But your sleep itself will only improve in quality. When we sleep full of booze, it is not a true rest. When you sleep without all of that poison in your body, your body and your mind will thank you for it.
This is where things start to improve – 7 days. This might sound like a mountain to climb but in the alcohol recovery timeline, this is where you start to feel the benefit of not drinking. You will no longer feel nauseous or down, mood often improves and energy levels will creep in.
Sleep is often still a problem after a week of drinking alcohol, but your body is being treated with a whole array of good nutrients and rest that would otherwise be taken away from you when drinking alcohol.
Two weeks after quitting alcohol
Two weeks is a milestone when quitting alcohol. You have broken quite a few of the normal routines that you may encounter. The Friday night drink, or the end of your working week ‘treat’. Breaking that cycle is a huge step in becoming alcohol free.
Alcohol slows the brain down and even shrinks it in size. The good news is that after two weeks without alcohol, your brain mass actually starts to replenish. It is after two weeks sober that people start to report an improvement in memory, movement and a general improvement in physical and mental health.
From two weeks onwards increased creativity – taking on new interests in life I never had time for when drinking!Sallyanne Munro
You will start to feel more alert. Sleep will improve and your mental state will start to level out to a new ‘normal’.
One month after quitting drinking alcohol
You will start to look and feel better overall. Your skin will improve, you will look less tired and people around you will start noticing this – hearing that you ‘look well’ is something that I will never tire of ?
Day 30 – Better sleep, much more energy and productivity. Spending more quality time with my family at the weekends rather then wasting my time sleeping off hangovers.Clare Sartin
Often blood pressure decreases, aches and pains disappear and your general mental health will improve also as you continue along the quitting alcohol recovery timeline. You will become less ‘snappy’ and just generally a nicer person to be around.
At one week without alcohol I slept like I’d never slept before, I was excited and polishing my halo. I think they call this the pink cloud. By one month I am sleeping all day and awake all night. Racked with anxiety and a pretty constant headache. I’m also super narky… like one long drawn out hangover.
Physically though, I can start to see the effects, I am half a stone lighter, my skin is much more clear and even toned, my nose is no longer swollen and red and my eyes are whiter and brighter. Despite feeling pretty crappy, I’m persevering. I’ve trained my brain to function in unnatural ways for 18 years so I think it deserves more than a month to heal itself.Amy
3 months into your quitting alcohol recovery timeline.
“I have noticed so much more at 90 days sober. Sleeping is better. My appetite is not. My sugar cravings are in control still and I’m working on that. I’m not anxious when I get up and I don’t feel like I have my head down focusing on not drinking like I did In the first few days. My skin is so much better and my appearance has removed Years from my age.”Cathy Allen
After 3 months without alcohol, a person’s major body functions will return to normal (aside from permanent damage), and a feeling of general well-being will be present.
A major plus is an increase in overall confidence. This is amazing of course, as long as we remain grounded in the fact that we need to continue to maintain our abstinence – and be aware of the Pink Cloud Syndrome good feeling.
The quitting alcohol recovery timeline – 6 months
Six months into the alcohol recovery timeline and you will be settled into your life changes now. You will have a good grasp on your day-to-day routine to avoid alcohol or situations that may trigger you to drink.
Confidence and well-being is widely reported with anyone who has been alcohol free for 6 months, and lots of good things are always fed back to our blog by people who have hit this milestone in their own alcohol recovery timeline. Amazing to hear always.
Your anxiety levels will decrease to minimal, if at all. You will be more confident in public and social situations. Your confidence will be so improved and it will be noticed by friends and family.
One point to note, as mentioned above is the Pink Cloud Syndrome – a very common and elated feeling that people finding the sober life can experience. A fantastic, but risky time. One where it can be tempting to think “well I can have one or two (drinks)”. These are the times to keep your guard up.
Again, it is absolutely worth it and sobriety only gets better and better!
1 year after ridding alcohol from your life and becoming AF
One year without alcohol! So, what has changed?
Lots of things for the better! After a year without booze slowing you down, your brain is more responsive, can handle more complex tasks or quick decision making. You will feel more alert and generally switched on. Something that is numbed by alcohol.
Weight loss is very commonly reported – although some people do actually report weight gain, but even then say they feel better than ever.
Unless there is permanent damage as mentioned before, then all of your major organs should be functioning at their strongest possible. Your body will be pulling in all of the natural goodness from the foods that you eat and you will be generally functioning as nature had intended it!
After one year alcohol free, you will feel like a totally different person.
You will approach situations in life with a much clearer head, you will feel and look fitter than you ever have done, and you will feel a lot more proud of yourself. And quite rightly so too!
Will I look better if I quit drinking.
One of the motivators for a lot of people quitting is their physical looks. People often feel and look tired after consuming alcohol.
This happens in the short term, and even more, as time goes on. On the flip side, looking better is an aftereffect of quitting drinking even if this is the last thing on your mind. There is a domino effect thanks to behaviors along the timeline of quitting alcohol. When a person quits drinking, their sleep improves, appetite comes back, energy levels rise and many other good things that will change as a by-product of quitting drinking. All of these behaviours have an effect on your skin, your body, and your overall appearance. All in a positive way too!
So….in short, yes. Initially – and we are talking the first few days and weeks – you may look tired, anxious, and a little lost. Taking away something that you have heavily relied on to deal with life can take some getting used to.
But once you get over the hill of becoming alcohol free (AF) and as you continue on your quitting alcohol recovery timeline, you will definitely look better, healthier, carry yourself with more confidence and it will be noticeable within yourself and by others around you.
Your skin will improve, you will look fresher and look less tired. Long-term alcohol can and does have a dramatic effect on how you look in general. Once that poison is removed, your body will start using all of the nutrients that you get from food for the better.
We have spelled out the quitting alcohol timeline below, along with some frequently asked questions related to taking on an alcohol-free lifestyle.
But once you get over the hill of becoming alcohol free (AF), you will definitely look better, healthier, carry yourself with more confidence and it will be noticeable within yourself and by others around you.