Quit Drinking – From Your Last Drink to Your Next Steps
You’ve decided to quit drinking. Reading this now, you may have had your last drink, or you may still be in the process of building your resolve. At this point, you are wondering, “What’s next?” What can you expect from the withdrawal process—from your last drink to your next steps?
What Does Alcohol Withdrawal Look Like?
Feeling in the dark about what to expect when detoxing can be off-putting for some. Going through alcohol withdrawal is no joke. Those with alcoholism have developed a physical dependence on the substance, meaning their body relies on alcohol to function.
Depending on how significant your alcohol dependency is, you could experience some pretty severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can scare off many who want to quit drinking.
Some people experience minimal symptoms, while others can have delirium, vomiting or nausea. It’s critical to your physical and mental health to have medical supervision when starting an alcohol detox, as some of the more severe symptoms can be life-threatening.
Common physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Restless legs
- Sweats and chills
- Vomiting and nausea
Common psychological symptoms include:
- Bad dreams
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Mood swings
But when can you expect these symptoms to start? And how intense will they be? The exact answer to your question will depend on how heavily you were relying on alcohol to get through the day. The more you use alcohol, the more likely it is that your detox will be difficult.
Reading this list might feel overwhelming, especially if this is your first time learning about alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Don’t let it stop you from reaching out to get support.
The most important thing to know is that getting help with a medically supervised detox will make the process so much easier than it could be on your own. It can be a relief to have the support of an experienced professional walking you through each step of the detox process.
Keep reading to learn what to expect in the hours and days after you quit drinking.
Within 12 Hours After Your Last Drink
Some people can go 12 hours without drinking, noticing no effects. However, if you used alcohol to get through the day, even going a few hours without a drink can feel impossible.
After 12 hours, your body sends signals demanding another drink. You might begin experiencing some of the withdrawal symptoms listed above. A small number of people might experience hallucinations within this time. While hallucinations can frighten you, they won’t harm you.
You’ll want to drink plenty of water and eat healthier than usual during this period. Even within 12 hours, your blood sugar begins returning to normal levels, officially starting your alcohol detox.
24 Hours After You Stop Drinking
At this point, symptoms tend to be their worst. You’ll notice changes in your sleep patterns, as well as mood swings and fatigue. Trying to stop alcohol cravings at this point might feel impossible because of how intensely they feel.
The first day after you stop drinking is the most dangerous because you might experience increased heart rate, dehydration, higher blood pressure and sometimes seizures.
3 Days Into the Detox Process
The first 48 hours are the worst, so 72 hours in, you’ve gotten through the worst of it! Your body temperature and blood pressure will stabilize after three days. Most hangover symptoms are also out of your body at this point.
At the 72-hour mark, many people experience a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. However, some of them won’t completely dissipate for the next month or two.
The First Week of the Detox
The worst of the withdrawal symptoms will start to fade away at this point. However, some people will still experience difficulty with their sleep patterns.
If someone were to experience delirium tremens, it would happen during this period. Delirium tremens is when you suddenly get confused and can be life-threatening. Of those who detox from alcohol, 5% will experience this phenomenon at some point during treatment.
- High blood pressure
- Losing consciousness
- Sleep issues
The medical community considers delirium tremens to be one of the most significant risks during detoxification. When untreated, it poses a much greater threat and a higher death rate than those when medical professionals supervise the detox process. This risk potential is a big part of why you need help when detoxing because you can’t predict if this will happen to you.
One Week After Detox Begins
After a week, your sleep patterns will probably start to improve. However, for some, it might be a month or even years until their sleep falls into a routine.
Even if you used it frequently, symptoms should become less intense at this point, and you should start to feel better. Your energy will begin to improve, and any skin conditions like dandruff or eczema will start to clear.
Two Weeks Since You Stopped Drinking
Once two weeks have passed, you’ve technically finished a clinical detox period. You might also notice some weight loss at this point in the process since you are not ingesting calories from alcohol. If you have minor liver problems during this period, it can start to recover as well.
If you have problems with acid reflux, you’ll likely notice symptoms disappearing at this point. Your stomach lining has also had a chance to heal.
Three Weeks Since Your Last Drink
If your drinking caused high blood pressure in the past, now your levels will decrease. Your skin will also clear up and become healthier. Three weeks in, and you’ll have reduced your risk of heart and stroke issues.
Your liver will also have a better ability to filter out toxins. Belly fat will also decrease, and your appetite will probably have leveled out as well. You might notice some positive changes in your mental health at this point.
One Month Without Alcohol
Four weeks after you stop drinking, your liver sheds excess fat and reduces by up to 15%. Your blood sugar levels and harmful cholesterol levels will decrease as well. There could also be several other health benefits of deciding to stop drinking. It all depends on exactly how alcohol has affected you.
Three Months Sober
After three months, most of your physical symptoms will be long gone. However, for many people, the first six months of sobriety are the hardest, and when most people relapse. It would be best if you continued to get support through this time to make sure you can stay alcohol-free until you get through these months.
Despite this, three months in, most people felt the health benefits and noticed an enormous difference, both mentally and physically.
One Full Year Free of Drinking
Congratulations! Living a full year sober is quite an accomplishment. Be proud of yourself! Getting to one year of sobriety can help you see just how much progress you’ve made.
Once you’ve made it through one year, it’ll be that much easier for you to go one more year, and then another after that.
Other Benefits of Going Alcohol-Free
One of the most significant benefits you won’t see in your body is your wallet’s savings! On average, most people save over $500 a year by quitting alcohol.
You’ll also cut down a considerable amount of calories. Depending on precisely what you drank, you could save over 1,000 calories a week by choosing to stop drinking.
Common Obstacles to Quit Drinking
Now, all of this assumes you don’t drink at all in the intervening process. Even having just one drink can jeopardize the progress made, and you will have to start over from the beginning of the process completely.
One of the biggest obstacles people face when trying to quit drinking is social pressure. If they still have drinking buddies in their lives, it can be almost impossible to go sober. Lack of support to change their lives can make it easy for people to choose to have one more drink when they know they should stop.
How to Quit Drinking
The best way to quit drinking is to get help. You might feel ashamed and want to stop on your own. But thousands of people have tried and failed, which negatively influences their mindset and makes them believe they can never stop.
You can reduce many of the withdrawal symptoms you face by receiving treatment in a rehab facility. There’s no way to predict if your symptoms will be minor or severe, so it’s best to detox under supervision.
Depending on how severe your addiction is, we’ll place you in the appropriate level of care to assist with the detox process. For most clients, we recommend detoxing at our alcohol detox center. Staying here during the detox process helps you stay safe while you experience the wrath of your withdrawal.
If you read this timeline of what happens after you stop drinking and feel scared or discouraged, you’re not alone. That’s why reaching out to dedicated professionals to help you along the way will make it possible for you to live a sober life. You’ll go through relapse prevention planning to help you make sure you meet your goals and can continue a life of sobriety into the future.
Get connected with us today by calling us at 855.298.3104