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7 Things That Happen After 30 Days Without Alcohol

7 Things That Happen After 30 Days Without Alcohol


12 minute read

Whether you’re kicking off the year with a Dry January or you’re sober curious and interested in cutting back long-term, 30 days without alcohol can have all kinds of positive effects.

Let’s get into what it feels like when you stop drinking for a full month, including some health benefits you may not have expected during your 30 days with no alcohol.

1. Your liver gets a break.

Drinking is hardest on your liver. That’s the part of your body responsible for breaking down the alcohol you drink. If you’re a chronic heavy drinker, you may reach a point where your liver can’t keep up. That can lead to cirrhosis and fatty liver disease

The good news is, your liver can repair itself — to a degree. Prolonged heavy alcohol use can make that harder, but moderate drinkers should see positive liver effects after just a month without drinking.

Giving your liver less booze to process means it can focus on other important functions, like regulating blood clotting and breaking down fats. 

2. It’s good for your heart.

Drinking less is great for your heart. It lowers your blood pressure, improves your heart rate, and lowers your stroke risk. While light to moderate wine drinking has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, heavy drinking has the opposite effect. 

It’s also important to note here that any heart health benefits aren’t a reason to start drinking wine if you don’t already. Many of the same studies caution that wine drinkers often follow a healthy diet anyway, so it may have less to do with drinking wine and more to do with other factors.

Heavy drinkers don’t see any positive effects for the heart. In fact, they have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Drinking too much can also raise your LDL cholesterol — that’s the bad kind — and age your arteries prematurely over time. 

3. Your brain might need it.

You probably already know about the bad decision-making that can happen after one too many, but long-term alcohol use can have long-term effects on memory and overall cognition. It’s particularly dangerous in young people still forming important brain connections.

In adults, heavy drinking can mess with your mood, worsen anxiety symptoms, and limit your ability to deal with your own emotions. A month without alcohol isn’t a cure for mental health conditions, but adjusting your drinking habits will likely be a part of any long-term solution. 

Alcohol can also get in the way of solid rest, which impacts cognition in other ways.

4. You’ll sleep better.

You may think you fall asleep faster after a few cocktails, but that sleep you’re getting isn’t the best kind. Alcohol messes with your body’s circadian rhythms, and could be keeping you from getting to REM sleep altogether.

The REM stage of your sleep cycle handles overall cognition. Less drinking means you’re helping your brain stay sharp and active, and helping to bring your body into balance.

Waking up without a hangover is also way better than the headache, nausea, and brain fog that could be waiting for you instead.

5. Your digestion will improve.

When you drink too much, you don’t just overwhelm your liver. Your gut feels it, too. Drinking causes intestinal inflammation and worsens symptoms of existing health problems that affect your gut. That potentially means more acid reflux, or heartburn, bloating, even gastritis. 

When you stop drinking, you give your gut a chance to get back to normal. You may find you’re treating your diet better, too, and taking in more fiber and liquids that aren’t alcohol but better for hydration and digestion.

6. You may drop some unwanted weight.

Drinking less could lead to weight loss. Despite all that you’ve read about the benefits of red wine, alcohol calories are still empty calories. The calories you consume with any amount of alcohol intake don’t contribute to your overall nutrition. 

Diabetes and drinking don’t mix, either. Too much alcohol can induce insulin resistance, and sugary mixed drinks can spike blood sugar levels.

Drinking too much causes weight gain, not only because alcohol is basically sugar — most people eat extra snacks while drinking. Unfortunately, even moderate drinkers have a hard time saying no to a Taco Bell run after a night at the bar. 

7. Your skin will look great.

Dehydration and a lack of good sleep can show up on your face in the form of undereye circles, puffiness, and a variety of skin problems. Drink less and you should see your complexion bounce back with a healthy glow.

Existing skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea may improve, too. Alcohol doesn’t just make those issues worse. It can cause them. 

What to Expect When You Quit Drinking for a Month

We’ve gone into some of the health benefits when you stop drinking. Let’s get into the weeds with how you’re going to feel after cutting out alcohol for a full month. 

Keep in mind that going alcohol-free for a month will look different for moderate drinkers vs. heavy drinkers. If you or a loved one are dealing with an alcohol use disorder, it’s best to quit drinking under clinical supervision. 

Going cold turkey can mean intense alcohol cravings and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the short-term. Healthcare professionals can offer the medical advice you need to detox responsibly and safely, and help you find long-term support for your newly sober life. 

Week 1

You should feel some immediate positive effects that first week without alcoholic drinks. In fact, you may feel better on the very first day if you’re used to going to bed after a glass of wine. Alcohol delays or even prevents your body from getting REM sleep.

That’s the sleep stage responsible for retaining memories and learning. Better sleep basically makes you smarter.

You may also notice a new inner glow. Alcohol has a short-term diuretic effect that can make it easier for you to get dehydrated. Without it, you’re probably getting liquids from more suitable sources, like water, which means an energy boost and an improved complexion.

Week 2

All of that good sleep without alcohol is feeling pretty great for your overall health and your mental health by this point. You may feel more energy than usual, making it easier to fit in those regular workouts you’ve been putting off before the new year.

By week 2, you should also feel it in your gut. We mean that literally. 

Binge drinking causes inflammation in your gut and messes with your intestinal barrier. In the short-term, that means funky bowel movements and acid reflux. Over time, heavy drinking can lead to nutritional deficiencies and worsen existing problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).   

We don’t want to get too personal here, but less drinking can make trips to the bathroom a much more pleasant experience. You’ll probably eat better, too. People who drink less tend to get more fiber, drink more water, and eat more regular meals.  

Week 3

Alcohol has a funny effect on blood pressure. It lowers your blood pressure in the short-term, but then gradually raises it in the long-term. By week 3, any dips or spikes should level off, and you should have lower blood pressure overall.

Kidney function starts to improve after week 3, too, although it depends on the damage done before you stopped drinking. Too much alcohol can make it harder for your kidneys to work efficiently and contribute to chronic kidney disease.

Week 4

Liver function continues to improve the longer you abstain from alcohol, but after week 4, moderate drinkers should already feel the effects of a healthier liver. Diabetes symptoms, skin conditions, even overall cognition should all improve.

You may feel like your mental health has improved after quitting alcohol, too. Drinking has a negative effect on how our bodies respond to stress, and some people use alcohol to numb those feelings. A full month away from drinking may help you feel better from the inside out.

Planning Ahead for a Successful 30 Days Sober

If this is your first attempt at a break from alcohol, it can feel a little daunting to get started. Make a plan that addresses the biggest obstacles to 30 days sober, starting with how you’ll navigate your social life.

1. Tell your friends.

If your social life revolves around happy hour, you’ll want to warn your regular drinking buddies that you’re taking time away from drinking. Your friends may love the idea and join you in exploring alcohol substitutes or sober bars.

If you know there are people in your social circle who won’t be as encouraging, it’s OK to let them know you need their support. Just have talking points outside of your 30-day journey to share. No one wants to hear about your plan every day.

2. Know your triggers.

Plan for some self-reflection about your personal triggers before you quit drinking alcohol to avoid setting yourself up for failure.

If you know you have a hard time abstaining from alcohol at social events, you may need to skip an event. If alcohol is your go-to when you’re feeling certain feelings, like stress over work or boredom, find ways to occupy yourself in those moments without drinking.

You know yourself best, but if you have a hard time nailing down triggers for drinking, spend a week or so ahead of your sober month journaling around your drinking. Make notes on what you were doing (or feeling) before each drink.

3. Plan some sober activities ahead of time.

You can have a great time without alcohol consumption. If you’re already skeptical, you may need to get a little more creative with your thinking. Focus on scheduling time with hobbies that will keep your mind off alcohol for the next 30 days. 

If you already love to be active, this should be easy, but sober activities can be about working your mind, too. Get through that dusty book that’s been on your shelf for the last year. Sign up for online language learning. Perfect your pie recipe, or work on your mocktail game. 

4. Get to know your alcohol alternatives.

Modern mocktails are much better than they used to be, and there are alcohol alternatives out there no matter what you typically go for at the bar. If you love mixed drinks, try non-alcoholic spirits.

Prefer a chilled white wine? That one’s easy. The best non-alcoholic wines taste just like real wine because they are real wine. The alcohol is just removed at the end to keep you hangover-free. Not sure where to begin? Start with a crisp non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc.

After Your Dry Month

Many people who take a month away from drinking return to a different relationship with alcohol. A life without hangovers may have felt pretty good. Maybe you want to extend that 30 days a little further to see how you feel, or adopt moderation management as a strategy. 

Moderation management is about addressing negative behaviors that can come from too much drinking. You’re not cutting alcohol out completely, but using it with caution and an understanding of your limits.

If you’d like reintroduce drinking back into your life, take it slow. Your tolerance may look different now, which means you might get drunk faster. If you didn’t like being hungover before, it may feel feel even worse now. Don’t return to old habits, especially if they left you feeling crummy.

Have Your Wine and Drink It Too

If you’re done with your 30 days sober, love the way you feel, but don’t want to give up wine completely, we have some good news. You can still drink wine and focus on your well-being without the negative effects of alcohol.

Surely non-alcoholic wine can help you keep all of those changes you’ve loved to see and enjoy a healthier glass of wine. Toast to your progress with our non-alcoholic sparkling Brut. Love a juicy red? Try our non-alcoholic pinot noir.

Sources

  1. Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Liver Cirrhosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  2. Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Cardiovascular Health
  3. Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation
  4. The Effect of Alcohol on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Is There New Information?
  5. Skin diseases in alcoholics
  6. The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverages in Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial
  7. Alcohol Addiction, Gut Microbiota, and Alcoholism Treatment: A Review
  8. Alcohol Use Disorder Increases the Risk of Irritable Bowel Disease
  9. Alcohol Consumption and Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease: Results From the Korean Cohort Study for Outcome in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease
  10. Co-Occurring Alcohol Use Disorder and Anxiety

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