What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?
When you make the decision to stop abusing alcohol, you might not think about what happens afterward. You can imagine it might be scary, new, and different, but what kind of physical and psychological changes does your body actually go through?
When I got sober, my body went through several different changes and I was surprised to find some were more enjoyable than others. One thing is for sure, you won’t be the same person once you stop drinking.
When I quit drinking my body experienced some physical changes that went beyond withdrawal symptoms you normally hear about when you stop drug and alcohol use. As your body resets, you can expect some or all of these changes.
Weight gain/weight loss
When I got sober, I was skinny for my height and body type. Eating was not a top priority for me when drinking and using, so when I stopped I gained weight. It took me awhile to learn about healthy nutrition and incorporate this into my new life. I often craved new tastes like sweets and sugar. The goal is to find a balance between healthy eating and exercise.
Another big change I noticed when I got sober was the increased sharpness of my senses. I was able to smell, hear, and see a lot more clearly. I never thought this would be a result of sobriety, but I realize now that the alcohol numbed most of my emotions and my senses. I was able to breathe clearer, inhale deeper, and listen more intently.
You will be emotional when you stop drinking; it’s par for the course. In early sobriety, my emotions were all over the place. When we’re used to suppressing our emotions with alcohol, we don’t realize how powerful they can be. Although this can be overwhelming at first, it’s actually a beautiful thing. You’ll also learn how to properly navigate your emotions in a healthy way in recovery.
Consistent sleep patterns
Another great result of sobriety is better sleep. Once you stop drinking, you’ll have more time to sleep and you’ll be able to get on a normal sleep pattern. Alcohol reduces REM sleep. REM sleep is the sleep stage in which people dream and is thought to be restorative. The more disruptions we experience in REM, the more tired and unrested we feel. Sleeping became restful for me and I enjoyed waking up in the morning, ready to take on the day.
Less common colds
There’s no doubt about it, alcohol lowers your immune system. When I called in sick to work during my drinking years, many times it was legitimate because I would get a number of colds throughout the year. Being in recovery, I am sick less often. My immune system works better at protecting my body from bacteria and germs.
The other area where you will experience change is mentally and spiritually. Your head will clear and the fog you’ve been living under during your drinking days will eventually lift.
After a few months of sobriety, I noticed that my memory became sharper. I was able to remember certain dates, times, appointments, and commitments much better than when I had been drinking. Decision making became easier for me. I wasn’t overwhelmed by life’s simple obstacles and I was able to make the right choices in the right situations. That’s not to say I never made any mistakes, but I was able to learn from them, pick myself back up, and try again.
Healthy coping mechanisms
When I drank, I always felt like the world was out to get me and that life was unfair. In sobriety, I have grown to understand that nothing is personal and the world is not out to get me.
Sobriety has taught me healthy coping mechanisms and how to deal with life on life’s terms. I no longer feel like I am standing still in a crowded city while cars and people whiz by me. I have learned how to establish myself with core values and become a functional member of society. Spiritually, I feel plugged into life. I’m connected to the universe and my inner guide and I have recovery to thank for that.
Sobriety offers up a lot of changes. In fact, it changes your entire world. Don’t let any of these mental or physical changes scare you because in the end, it’s all worth it.