What Happens When You Stop Drinking?

Whether going out for a drink with friends, having a glass of wine with dinner, or grabbing a beer at a sporting event, drinking alcohol is a common, socially acceptable activity in modern society.  When a person has even one drink, alcohol enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the entire body. The mental effects of alcohol (mood changes, lowered inhibitions, loss of coordination) occur within 5-15 minutes of the drink, and they vary greatly depending on how much a person drinks.


But what happens when someone goes beyond the healthy limit? Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious condition that affects around 15 million Americans, 5 million of whom are women. Alcohol use disorder is used to refer to many different severities of alcohol abuse, including physical and psychological addiction.


For AUD sufferers, quitting drinking isn’t a simple decision. Individuals who suffer from severe addiction run the risk of physical danger or even death if they stop drinking without medical supervision.

Alcohol Withdrawal: What Happens to the Body

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are caused by the sudden removal of ethanol, the active chemical in the alcohol we drink, from the body. Ethanol is a depressant, and regular consumption forces the brain to ramp up its production of stimulating chemicals to compensate. If an AUD sufferer suddenly stops drinking, their brain’s “new normal” of chemical production can cause serious problems.


Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

None of these symptoms are certain to occur, and the following should not be considered a comprehensive list. If you or a loved one are suffering from AUD or alcohol withdrawal, give us a call at 844-252-5221 and learn more about our Alcohol Detox program.


  • 5 to 10 Hours: The first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal appear, including shaking, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, trouble sleeping, nightmares, and seizures.


  • 10 to 24 Hours: Withdrawal-induced hallucinations (alcohol hallucinosis) are relatively rare but can begin in this time period. Hallucinations are usually auditory, but can also be tactile (touch hallucinations) and visual.


  • 24 to 72 hours: Delirium tremens (DTs) is one of the most commonly known alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It is also the most severe, causing mental confusion, irregular heart rate and breathing, fever, loss of body temperature regulation, and loss of consciousness.


  • 4 to 28 days: In some severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS includes many of the above symptoms seen in the first hours of withdrawal, as well as depression, lack of impulse control, and cravings for alcohol.

Going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms should not be done alone. Casa Capri Recovery is here to help with our alcohol rehab programs.

Long-Term Health Benefits of Quitting Drinking

As was very clear in the section above, quitting drinking while suffering from alcohol use disorder is not easy. After enduring the initial negative impacts of the body and brain readjusting to life without alcohol, you will hopefully start to see these positive impacts of an alcohol-free life.


Better Sleep

Alcohol’s qualities as a depressant affect the normal functioning of the brain, including the regulation of sleep. A study conducted by the University of Sussex in England found that 70% of people who quit drinking for a month reported sleeping better. Alcohol may feel like it helps a person fall asleep faster (especially for those dealing with AUD), but it actually makes sleep less effective.


Healthier Heart, Brain, and Liver

Regular overconsumption (and even “safe” levels of consumption) of alcohol can cause innumerable conditions that affect the heart, brain, liver, and virtually every organ in the body. All of the following can be avoided by living alcohol-free.


Liver: Many people know the liver has to work hard to process alcohol, and that isn’t done without a price. Cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and fatty liver disease are all potential complications from drinking.


Heart: Drinking can raise blood pressure, cause arrhythmia, and even lead to stroke.

Brain: Alcohol’s effects on the brain are the main reason people drink: it alters moods and lowers inhibitions. Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that alcohol can damage the brain’s ability to form memories and learn new skills, sometimes permanently.


Lose Weight

Despite the common myth that clear liquors are calorie-free, all alcohol has calories. All standard drinks have at least 100 calories, so a night of drinking (and months of drinking) adds up quickly. Stopping drinking immediately cuts out hundreds of calories from a person’s daily intake, which explains the weight loss that often follows quitting.


Younger Cells

It may sound like science fiction, but there is evidence that alcohol makes people older at the cellular level. Telomeres are the part of human chromosomes that biologists use as a marker for cellular aging. The shorter the telomeres are, the older a cell is, and studies show that drinking shortens telomeres.

There’s No Better Time to Stop Drinking Than Now

The expert team here at Casa Capri has helped countless individuals deal with the painful, difficult process of quitting drinking. We’re here for you when you decide to make the step towards recovery. Give us a call at 844-252-5221 to start the process for you or your loved one today.

Get Help Now

If you or a loved one has a substance addiction, please give us a call today at 844-252-5221. It’s time to heal your heart and find true happiness.


Our admissions team is always available to talk and answer any questions you may have about our Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs at Casa Capri Recovery for women.


Casa Capri Recovery

Our program offers the highest quality care for women struggling with addiction and co-occurring conditions.

We are fully licensed by the State of California and our treatment center is accredited by The Joint Commission – the standard of excellence in quality programs.

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