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Deciding to stop drinking for a month can lead to significant positive changes in your body and in your overall health. It will aid weight loss, improve sleep, reduce risk of liver disease and make your heart healthier. Quitting or drastically cutting down on drinking is not always an easy challenge, but it can provide you with so many long and short term benefits to your health and improve relationships with friends and family. There’s no need to wait until Dry January to give up the booze - why not start your alcohol-free month today?
After one month of being alcohol-free, your physical and mental health is likely to improve significantly. Here are some of the benefits you can expect following an alcohol-free month.
To give you an idea of what to expect and when, we’ve included a timeline of changes that will occur during your month of abstention.
So you’ve taken the first important step and decided to quit drinking for a month. Here is a timeline of what happens to your body when you give up alcohol:
During the first 48 hours after you stop drinking, your body will have started the process of removing all of the harmful toxins from your body and it is during this stage you can expect to feel the bulk of your withdrawal symptoms. These can include bouts of sweating, tremors, headaches and a rise in blood pressure. It’s important to remember that these symptoms will pass and each day will likely become easier than the last.
If you’re struggling with withdrawal symptoms, check out our guide on How to get through alcohol withdrawal.
During days two and three, the symptoms will become easier to manage and you will start to feel more in control. You may still experience some withdrawal symptoms, particularly if you are a heavy drinker, but the good news is they will also lessen over the next few days. Towards the end of your first alcohol-free week, you may not experience any withdrawal symptoms at all.
By the end of week one, it is likely that you will be sleeping better, be more hydrated, feel more positive and able to manage your calorie intake more effectively….and you’ll have saved a few quid in the process!
You will start to feel more rested and refreshed after experiencing better sleep patterns. You may also notice a difference in symptoms such as less acid reflux (alcohol affects the lining of your stomach which causes stomach acid).
Now you’re into the third week, your blood pressure will start to reduce, which will have long term health benefits, particularly if you continue to drink less over time or stop altogether.
At this point, you will also have potentially reduced your calorie intake by approximately 3000 calories (the equivalent of six glasses of wine a week). Weight gain is a cause of high blood pressure so by week three you’re really making huge steps in boosting the health of your heart.
In as little as a month, you will experience a drastic improvement in your general health. Your liver function will be improving, giving your body the best chance of shedding fatty contaminants and storing vital minerals and vitamins.Your energy levels will have significantly increased and it is not uncommon for excessive drinkers to see improvements in conditions they may have developed such as eczema, dandruff and rosacea. Your skin will look better due to increased hydration too!
If your jeans are starting to feel a little looser, this may be due to the whopping 4000 calories you’ve dropped by refraining from a glass of wine each night. Just think - you can now buy some new jeans with all that money you’ve saved too!
You will potentially start to see the benefits of giving up alcohol in less than a month. Your skin will look brighter and more hydrated, your complexion clearer and you may be losing weight along the way. You are likely to be sleeping better too, so you will look visibly less tired and more refreshed.
Absolutely! Removing alcohol from your diet is a great way of reducing your calorie intake. Abstaining can also lead to better sleeping patterns which in turn can lead to better eating habits. Find out more in our Can you lose weight by cutting out alcohol article.
Here at LiveWell Dorset, we are passionate about helping you live a healthy, happy life. For more information and resources about how to reduce your alcohol intake and perhaps give up completely, why not visit the Drink Less section of our website which has lots of helpful tips on how to stop or reduce the amount of units consumed. We also have a fantastic Habit Hacker tool. Designed by experts, it’s quick and simple to use and can help assess your drinking behaviours, triggers and barriers, as well as providing bespoke behaviour change techniques personalised to you. You can also use LiveWell Finder to locate your nearest support group - reaching out to others is a great way of realising you don’t have to go through this challenge alone.
Not sure if you’re drinking too much? Try our Rethink your Drink quiz to see if you need to consider reducing your alcohol consumption.
If you’re missing your weekly social cocktail during your dry month, why not check out some of the delicious non-alcoholic recipes in our Marvellous Mocktails article - you won’t be disappointed, plus there will be no hangovers the next day! If mocktails aren’t your thing, there are lots of non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits available which you will find stocked at most supermarkets.
We hope this article has been helpful in helping you discover what happens to your body when you stop drinking for a month. If we have inspired you to rise to the challenge of staying alcohol-free for 30 days and would like to find out more about the services LiveWell Dorset provides, why not register or contact us today. Our team of advisors and coaches are here to help you every step of the way. We've supported more than 30,000 people in Dorset to date with their personal health journeys. People like Bernie. Read more of his story here.
If your drinking continues to be a problem, Drinkaware.co.uk has lots of useful guidance and advice on addiction, alcohol abuse and how to change your relationship with alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous has a free helpline and can assist in finding a support group in your area.
You can also speak to your GP or medical professional who will be able to discuss the effects alcohol is having on your health and identify the right support for you.
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