Alcohol Addiction Recovery Timeline (2023)

If you're like most people, you probably enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage. Whether it's a glass of wine with dinner or a couple of beers while watching the game, alcohol can be an enjoyable way to relax and socialize.

However, there are also many people who struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction. If you're one of these individuals, you may have decided that it's time to quit drinking.

Timeline: What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

If you're ready to give up alcohol, and you are drinking every day, here is a timeline of what you can expect in regards to your mental and physical health when you stop drinking. If you have alcohol use disorder but only drink on weekends, know that you will also get benefits from stopping:

  • After One Day: The first day is always the hardest, but it's also an important milestone. After 24 hours without alcohol, your body will start to detoxify and you may experience withdrawal symptoms. It's important to remember that they are only temporary and will usually subside withina few days. For individuals with severe alcohol dependence, however, withdrawal symptoms can be more severe and may require medical attention.
  • After Three Days: After three days, you will likely start to feel more like yourself. However, individualswho have been drinking heavily for long periods of time may still experience some symptoms of withdrawal and may even have hallucinations or delirium tremens (DTs) and seizures. Delirium tremens is a a serous and life threatening condition, and If you're concerned about your symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor.
  • After One Week: After one week without alcohol, your risk of seizures is much less. Also, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease will start to decrease. This is because alcohol can increase your blood pressure and make your heart work harder. In the coming weeks, your liver will also begin to repair itself.
  • After One Month: A month alcohol-free is a big accomplishment. This is usually when people start to feel their best after giving up alcohol. By this point, most physical withdrawal symptoms should have subsided and you should start to feel less anxious and more positive. One study showed that after 6 weeks of abstinence from alcohol, brain volume increases by an average of 2%.
  • After Six Months: After half a year without drinking, you will really start to reap the rewards. Your risk of developing cancer will decrease, and your liver function will have greatly improved. You'll also have more energy and stamina, and you may notice that your skin looks healthier.
  • After One Year: Congrats on making it to 12 months! At this point, your risk of developing all types of disease will be reduced and your bone density will start to increase. Keep in mind that everyone is different and will experience different things when they stop drinking.

While giving up alcohol can be a challenge, it's important to remember that the benefits are well worth it.

Other Effects of Quitting Alcohol

Here are some of the most common effects of giving up alcohol.

(Video) What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

1. Your body starts to detox.

When you first stop drinking, your body will begin to detoxify itself. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, tremors, sweating, and nausea.

2. You may have trouble sleeping.

One of the most common side effects of giving up alcohol is insomnia.This is because alcohol acts as a sedative, so when it's no longer in your system, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

3. Your appetite may change.

When you drink alcohol, even in moderate amounts, it can result in obesity. So, when you stop drinking, you may find that you have fewer cravings for food.

4. You may feel irritable or anxious.

It's common to feel anxious or irritable when you first give up alcohol. This is because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so when it's no longer in your system, your body has to adjust to the change.

5. You may have mood swings.

Along with anxiety and irritability, you may also experience mood swings when you give up alcohol.

6. Your liver will start to repair itself.

Alcohol is a toxin that can damage your liver. However, when you stop drinking, your liver will begin to repair itself and the damage will start to reverse.

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7. Your risk of developing certain diseases will decrease.

If you're a heavy drinker, you're at an increased risk of developing certain diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. However, when you stop drinking, your risk of developing these diseases decreases.

8. Your skin may improve.

One of the surprising side effects of giving up alcohol is that your skin may start to look better. This is because alcohol can cause dehydration, which can lead to dry, dull skin. So, giving up alcohol can help your skin to look more hydrated and glowing.

9. You may have more energy.

Once the initial symptoms of withdrawal have subsided, you may find that you have more energy than you did before you stopped drinking. This is because alcohol is a depressant, so when it's no longer in your system, your body has more energy to work with.

10. You may think more clearly.

Another benefit of giving up alcohol is that your mind may be clearer. This is because alcohol can cause changes in brain chemistry, which can lead to cognitive problems.

11. You may feel happier.

One of the best things about giving up alcohol is that you may find yourself feeling happier overall. This is because alcohol can cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

12. You may have more money.

One of the financial benefits of giving up alcohol is that you'll likely have more money to spend. This is because alcohol is a costly habit, so giving it up can free up some extra cash.

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13. You may live longer.

One of the most significant benefits of giving up alcohol is that you may increase your lifespan. This is because alcohol abuse can lead to serious health problems, such as liver disease and cancer. So, giving up alcohol can help you to avoid these potentially deadly diseases.

14. You may feel more productive.

One of the unexpected benefits of giving up alcohol is that you may find yourself more productive than before. This is because alcohol can cause fatigue and decreased motivation, so when you stop drinking, you may find it easier to get things done.

15. You may have better relationships.

Alcohol can cause problems in relationships, such as conflicts, communication problems, and trust issues. So, giving up alcohol may help you to improve your relationships with friends and family.

It is worth mentioning that nutritional status improvement occurs when someone strop drinking, which is one big reason why people may see many of the above improvements with sobriety.

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A Word From Verywell

There are many benefits to giving up alcohol, both short-term and long-term. If you're considering quitting drinking, these benefits may be just what you need to help you make the decision. Of course, giving up alcohol is not always easy, and there may be some challenges along the way. But if you're committed to sobriety, it's definitely possible to achieve your goal.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol use disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

(Video) The Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

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FAQs

What length of time does it take for a person to recover from an addiction? ›

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. Withdrawal occurs in the first few days to weeks of stopping drugs or alcohol, but some people may experience protracted withdrawal that can persist for months.

How long does it take to reset your brain from alcohol? ›

The new research shows that it takes at least two weeks for the brain to start returning to normal, so this is the point at which the alcohol recovery timeline begins. Until the brain has recovered, it is less able so suppress the urge to drink. This is because the alcohol has impaired the brains cognitive ability.

How long does it take organs to recover from alcoholism? ›

Recovery after abstinence

Recent studies have shown that a 3-week abstinence following the removal of alcohol induces a complete recovery of gut barrier function in subjects with AUD who presented with high intestinal permeability.

When is relapse most likely? ›

A relapse is not being able to stay drug-free or sober over time. It can occur if you have a series of lapses close together or a lapse that leads to heavier drug or alcohol use over a longer period. It's most likely to happen a few months after you've quit using drugs or alcohol.

How long does it take to break a drinking habit? ›

Some studies say it can take around 21 days to break a habit.

How long does it take for dopamine to reset? ›

Normal, healthy dopamine production depends on a wide variety of factors, but many medical professionals believe that your brain's dopamine production will return to pre-substance misuse levels over a period of 90 days.

How long does it take for serotonin levels to return to normal after alcohol? ›

Generally, though, it may take up to two weeks for the brain's chemistry to return to normal after experiencing extended periods of alcoholic blackout.

How do you know if you have permanent brain damage from alcohol? ›

Repeated blackouts, a clear sign of excessive drinking, can result in permanent damage that inhibits the brain from retaining new memories. For example, an individual may be able to recall past events with perfect clarity but not remember having the conversation a few hours later.

Can your brain heal from alcoholism? ›

Recovery of brain function is certainly possible after abstinence, and will naturally occur in some domains, but complete recovery may be harder in other areas.

How long does it take to reset your liver from drinking? ›

Healing can begin as early as a few days to weeks after you stop drinking, but if the damage is severe, healing can take several months. In some cases, “if the damage to the liver has been long-term, it may not be reversible,” warns Dr.

How do you know when your liver is healing? ›

You will experience physical signs your liver is healing, such as healthier-looking skin and eyes, increased energy levels, and reduced stomach pain and swelling. Other signs your liver is healing include: Improved amino-acid regulation – Your liver processes proteins and amino acids that your body cannot store.

Is damage from alcohol reversible? ›

However, in most cases, the full extent of the damage produced by chronic and heavy alcohol use on the cardiovascular system is not fully resolved. Typically, any reversal of damage occurs rapidly in the first months to the first year of abstinence and then slows down following that.

What addiction has the highest relapse rate? ›

Research shows that alcohol and opioids have the highest rates of relapse, with some studies indicating a relapse rate for alcohol as high as 80 percent during the first year after treatment. Similarly, some studies suggest a relapse rate for opioids as high as 80 to 95 percent during the first year after treatment.

What is the number one cause of relapse? ›

High Levels of Stress. One of the most common relapse triggers which lead to addiction, stress is something that most everyone who has committed to recovery has to deal with. Everyone deals with stress. And, before treatment, you may have dealt with yours through the use of drugs or alcohol.

What are the odds of staying sober? ›

What Percentage Of Alcoholics Stay Sober? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 33% or “one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms 1 year later.”

What does 3 weeks without alcohol do to your body? ›

Overall benefits of three weeks without alcohol

Clear skin. More energy. Improved gym performance. Reduced anxiety and improved mood.

What does 30 days no alcohol do? ›

Summary. Across the month, your body is likely to have benefitted greatly from giving up alcohol. Better hydration and improved sleep will have increased your productivity and daily wellbeing. Your liver, stomach and skin will also have benefitted from not dealing with alcohol.

Can dopamine levels return to normal after addiction? ›

In the center, after one month of abstinence, the brain looks quite different than the healthy brain; however, after 14 months of abstinence, the dopamine transporter levels (DAT) in the reward region of the brain (an indicator of dopamine system function) return to nearly normal function (Volkow et al., 2001).

Can you rewire your brain from addiction? ›

Research has found that certain pathways in the brain are especially vulnerable to getting rewired in individuals who abuse drugs and alcohol. As a result of the rewiring, the individual is more likely to continue consuming illicit substances.

What supplements boost dopamine? ›

Along with eating a balanced diet, many possible supplements may help boost dopamine levels, including probiotics, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, ginkgo and ginseng. This, in turn, could help improve brain function and mental health.

How long does brain fog last when you stop drinking? ›

A person may think they have damaged their brain or need alcohol in order to think, which can trigger a relapse. Yet symptoms of brain fog usually alleviate within a few days.

Does alcohol deplete dopamine? ›

Alcohol use overloads the brain with dopamine, while also reducing the brain's dopamine receptors in the process. When you first quit drinking, the lack of dopamine and diminished receptors can lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Which of the following commonly results from years of alcohol abuse? ›

Long-Term Health Risks. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.

What happens to the brain after years of drinking? ›

Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size.

What part of the brain is most damaged by alcohol? ›

The cerebellum, an area of the brain responsible for coordinating movement and perhaps even some forms of learning, appears to be particularly sensitive to the effects of thiamine deficiency and is the region most frequently damaged in association with chronic alcohol consumption.

Can an alcoholic liver heal? ›

Alcoholic liver disease is treatable if it is caught before it causes severe damage. However, continued excessive drinking can shorten your lifespan. Cirrhosis further worsens the condition and can lead to serious complications. In case of severe damage, the liver cannot heal or return to normal function.

Can the liver regenerate after years of drinking? ›

The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. The liver can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse (drinking too much) over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate.

What foods help liver repair? ›

The liver is part of the body's natural detoxification system, which helps filter out toxins. Foods that support liver health include berries, cruciferous vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and fatty fish. Coffee and green tea contain antioxidants that are helpful for liver health.

How long does it take for liver enzymes to normalize after drinking? ›

With 2–6 weeks of abstinence, levels generally decrease to within the normal reference range, with the half–life of GGT being 14–26 days.

What is the real success rate of AA? ›

A New York Times article stated that AA claims that up to 75% of its members stay abstinent. Alcoholics Anonymous' Big Book touts about a 50% success rate, stating that another 25% remain sober after some relapses.

How does gabapentin work for alcohol dependence? ›

Through its effects on GABA, gabapentin calms down the brain, which is exactly what is needed for the hyper-aroused state of a newly sober alcoholic (3). This is believed to result in a reduction in anxiety and improve sleep (4, 5), both of which are associated with reduced cravings for alcohol.

What are the three phases of relapse? ›

There are three stages of relapse: emotional, mental, and physical. Understanding these different stages can help individuals recognize the warning signs that their abstinence is in danger of faltering.

How many addicts fully recover? ›

A separate study published by the CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2020 found 3 out of 4 people who experience addiction eventually recover. "So that's huge, you know, 75%," Kelly said.

How often do people relapse? ›

Between 40% and 60% of addicts will inevitably relapse. This figure, however, does not represent every person who has completed treatment. It is important to understand the high probability of relapse and learn the proper tools to maintain sobriety.

What are the 5 stages of change in recovery? ›

There are 5 stages of change during professional treatment for addiction: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

What makes it difficult to recover from an addiction? ›

Drug addiction changes a sufferer's brain, creating compulsions to use. Over time, these changes can make it impossible to resist the impulse to take drugs. Additionally, the brain's reward system can become compromised by drug abuse and addiction.

What is the annual recovery rate for addicts? ›

Drug Addiction Recovery Statistics in Relapse Rates

In fact, 85 percent of individuals relapse within a year of treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Moreover, two-thirds of individuals return to drug use within weeks of beginning addiction treatment.

What are the 3 R's of recovery? ›

Simply put, you need to help your clients follow the three “R's” of recovery—refuel, rebuild and rehydrate. These are the cornerstones of post-workout and recovery nutrition.

What are the recovery milestones? ›

The first milestone takes place 24 hours after someone stops using substances. Beginning the recovery journey is a huge step, so it deserves to be acknowledged. Other common milestones include 7 days, 3o days, 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year without drugs or alcohol.

What are the 3 M's of recovery? ›

I call these three pillars of recovery “The Three Ms: Mind, Mouth and Muscle.” You'll notice I started with “mind” because the entire process begins with laying down a powerful mental foundation fueled by your passion for wanting to live long and well, while sustaining lifelong recovery.

What are the four steps to recovery from alcoholism? ›

You will go through four stages of recovery: treatment initiation, early abstinence, maintaining abstinence, and advanced recovery.

What is the most important part of recovery? ›

An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person's ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.

What is the first rule of recovery? ›

Rule 1: Change Your Life

The most important rule of recovery is that a person does not achieve recovery by just not using. Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use.

What is the main reason addicts relapse? ›

High Levels of Stress. One of the most common relapse triggers which lead to addiction, stress is something that most everyone who has committed to recovery has to deal with. Everyone deals with stress. And, before treatment, you may have dealt with yours through the use of drugs or alcohol.

What substance has the highest rate of relapse? ›

Research shows that alcohol and opioids have the highest rates of relapse, with some studies indicating a relapse rate for alcohol as high as 80 percent during the first year after treatment. Similarly, some studies suggest a relapse rate for opioids as high as 80 to 95 percent during the first year after treatment.

How many times on average do people relapse? ›

Studies reflect that about 40-60% of individuals relapse within 30 days of leaving an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center, and up to 85% relapse within the first year.

What percentage of people relapse in AA? ›

According to a survey of members of AA, 75 percent experience a relapse during their first year of recovery. For those who are sober five years, the rate drops to 7 percent.

Videos

1. Alcohol Addiction: How To Detox & Begin Recovery | Stanford
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2. What Happens When You Quit Alcohol?
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4. Stages of Change in Recovery from Addiction by Dr. Bob Weathers
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6. Ben Affleck on depression, addiction and how sobriety has made him happier | Nightline
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