What Happens in the First Year After You Stop Drinking?

What Happens in the First Year After You Stop Drinking
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If you’ve given up alcohol or are working toward abstinence, you’re probably wondering what happens after you stop drinking. The first year of sobriety brings about a lot of physical, mental, and life changes: some good, some challenging.

Research is clear that cessation of alcohol consumption comes with considerable benefits to the body and mind. We’ve put together a list of the most important ones you’ll want to be aware of as you continue your path to recovery.

Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

After you stop drinking, lots of things start to shift mentally and physically. Although long-term cessation is the goal for those who struggle with an alcohol use disorder, even short-term alcohol abstinence can help your overall health.

From the improvement of liver disease to an uptick in mental health, science has repeatedly proven that there are perks to getting sober.

Here are a few you have to look forward to.What happens in the first year after you stop drinking 1

Health Stats Improve

After you stop drinking, your overall health will likely improve.

Within just 24 hours of cessation, blood pressure readings can reduce significantly. Cholesterol levels can lower. Triglyceride levels can also decrease, improving heart health.

Other health improvements that can happen include:

  • Reversal of alcohol-related vitamin deficiencies
  • Fatty liver disease improvement or recovery
  • Intestinal inflammation decreases (improving gut health)
  • Increased hydration levels and improved ability to maintain these levels

Alcohol cessation also helps reduce spikes in blood sugar and lower your A1C over time. If you struggle with insulin resistance, this can also improve after you stop drinking. Your immune system can get a boost as well.

It’s well-known that heavy drinking causes our immune systems to weaken, meaning alcohol use can make us sick and tired (not just figuratively.) But alcohol rehab Costa Mesa experts see this changing in clients within the first year of alcohol use disorder recovery.

Of course, physical dangers can also present after you stop drinking. For example, Delirium Tremens and other serious withdrawal symptoms can occur.

That is why it is vital that you seek out an alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa or a specialist in the surrounding area to help you deal with the uncomfortable parts of quitting alcohol.

Better Mental Health

Quitting alcohol can help you get your mind right, literally.

From better concentration to improved memory function, many of alcohol’s nasty effects on the brain can be undone.

One scientific study showed that those who stopped drinking (especially females) reported greater improvements in mental health than those who never drank.1

Why is this?

There are many reasons for this, including a reversal in alcohol-related neurotoxicity as well as balanced levels of serotonin in the body.

Of course, these improvements don’t always happen instantly.

Those specializing in alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa see this as one of the reasons people go back to drinking.

Serotonin is the “feel good” chemical because it influences mood. Drinking can initially increase serotonin, causing one to feel really good under the influence. Unfortunately, it also depletes serotonin levels with continued use. This explains why there is a massive link between alcohol use disorder and depression.

Thankfully, this is something the sobriety improves. Usually, you’ll see an increase and leveling in serotonin levels within 14 days after you stop drinking.What happens in the first year after you stop drinking 2

Weight Loss and Better Body Image

One of the best physical and mental advantages of quitting drinking is what it can do for your weight. You’ll probably lose weight in the first year after you stop drinking.

Alcohol carries extra calories but no nutritional value. Even alcoholic drinks that are supposed to be low-cal can add up over time, causing you to pack on the pounds.

It’s important to note that the research on this is mixed, with some studies finding that there isn’t a direct link between weight gain and an alcohol abuse disorder. Still, your body will likely change after you stop drinking, even if the numbers on the scale don’t move. For example, bloating caused by inflammation of the abdominal area (AKA beer belly) usually disappears once you’re sober.

But the body benefits don’t end there. For example, many studies show a link between stopping drinking and how one feels about their body (and themselves in general.)

Simply put, you’ll look better.

For one, drinking really negatively impacts your skin. It can cause:

  • Dehydration
  • Skin flushing
  • Acne issues
  • Puffiness
  • Loss of elasticity

After you stop drinking, some of these issues can reverse. You’ll also halt the over-aging process that happens while you’re still using alcohol.

The first year of sobriety can also benefit your hair, making it stronger and more voluminous. In addition, abstinence can aid in better hygiene and eliminate the bad breath and body odor caused by the acetaldehyde from alcohol.

Finally, you’ll sleep better.

Although most people who seek help from alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa struggle with insomnia in the days, weeks, and even months after quitting, this doesn’t last forever. Overall, the quality of sleep you’ll gain once you stop drinking will make up for the initial sleepless nights.What happens in the first year after you stop drinking 3

Reduced Risk for Cancer

Another huge benefit you’ll gain after you stop drinking is reduced risk for certain cancer. Alcohol consumption puts you at much higher risk for the following cancers:

  • Esophageal
  • Head and neck
  • Liver
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Breast

Now, it’s important to note that risk reduction doesn’t happen instantly. However, your risk continues to decrease as you round out your first year of sobriety and continue into years two, ten, fifteen, and twenty. What happens in the first year after you stop drinking 4

Other Life Benefits

What you gain after you stop drinking is far more than physical. Those in recovery report the first year of sobriety as ups and downs. Although struggles will undoubtedly come along with conquering addiction, there are huge gains as well. These include things like more financial freedom.

You can use the money you save when abstaining from alcohol to help yourself become more financially stable, or you could splurge on a vacation. You’ll be able to enjoy time out with your friends and family and so much more.

This brings us to another perk of stopping drinking–your thinking and creativity will flourish. Maybe you’ll take on a new hobby or start a new business. The opportunities are endless.

If you or a loved one needs help managing an alcohol use disorder, there’s hope. Clear Life Recovery offers treatment and can help you detox. We can also help you navigate what comes after you stop drinking. Contact us today to learn more!



[1] https://www.cmaj.ca/content/191/27/E753

[2] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/10report/chap02e.pdf

[3] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.HYP.33.2.653