Whether it be for personal, medical, or external reasons, individuals quit drinking alcohol every day. They might feel like the negative consequences of drinking have outweighed the temporary euphoria. Some might be sensing an addiction developing and want to be proactive in preventing it. Others choose to quit because of the ripple effect that their addiction has had on those around them. If you are looking to quit drinking or have attempted to before, it is important to be aware of potential withdrawal symptoms that could encourage a relapse.

Immediate Side Effects

The first 72 hours after a heavy drinker stops consuming alcohol [1] could be the most difficult as this is when they are most likely to experience delirium tremens. It is a sudden state of confusion that could involve hallucinations in which a person may start shaking and experience an irregular heart rate. It is important that heavy drinkers detox under the supervision of a medical professional because the size effects of these tremens could lead to seizures. After the first 72 hours pass, their body will begin to generate a new equilibrium and start to function without alcohol.

Studies performed by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) proves that cravings will occur whenever a person changes their drinking habits. The body adjusts its equilibrium to adapt to the presence of alcohol in a person’s system, which is why it notices and reacts to the sudden absence of alcohol intake. It craves alcohol for the first few days after a person goes without drinking because it has adjusted to alcohol’s presence. These cravings can last from a few days to a few years depending on the amount of alcohol regularly consumed.

It is also possible that when the physical effects are over a person will then have to deal with the psychological effects. People have reported feeling everything from anger to depression as well as aggression and general anxiety. Others struggle to sleep, experience nightmares, and more. The neurotransmitters, which influence mood, in a person’s brain are affected the most when they use alcohol. It is strongly recommended that individuals seek counseling during recovery as emotions suppressed by alcohol tend to resurface once the alcohol has left their system.

Health Benefits of Quitting

When people quit drinking, the appearance of their skin improves. This is because alcohol is a diuretic and will cause water to leave a person’s body, dehydrating their skin . Additionally, a person’s blood sugar levels will return to normal upon quitting because alcohol consumption can interfere with blood sugar as well as the hormones needed to maintain healthy blood sugar levels [2].

Approximately 30 days after a person stops drinking alcohol the fat in their liver decreases, leading to an increased ability to filter out the body’s toxins. Individuals might also experience weight loss as they no longer have alcohol adding excess belly fat. Finally, quitting drinking can positively affect your sleeping pattern. Research has shown that alcohol disrupts natural brain wave patterns by extending the duration of daytime patterns into the night. This causes a lack of restful sleep.

Sobriety is an ongoing battle that will be full of challenges and temptations. Don’t let the temporary pain of alcohol withdrawal symptoms prevent you from pursuing a healthier lifestyle. There are medications and treatments available that can help you get through the early days of no alcohol consumption and medical professionals to offer support. You are not alone.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312918.php