What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Drinking

Want to know exactly how long it takes for these benefits to kick in? With the help of Champion, we put together the following timeline of your body after that last glass of rosé. Read on to see the incredible things your body can do in the days, weeks, and months after you stop drinking.

Whatever your alcohol intake—whether you only indulge in a single celebratory Friday-night drink or pour yourself an Olivia Pope-size glass of wine every single night—there are a bevy of benefits to going booze-free.
You already know many of them: weight loss, better sleep and a happier, healthier mood. But what, exactly, happens inside your body that makes saying sayonara to alcohol so great?
"Alcohol is a toxin," Sal Raichbach, Psy.D., LCSW, chief of clinical compliance at Ambrosia Treatment Center points out. "As it enters the bloodstream, it impacts every organ system and takes a toll on the normal processes of the human body. So, if you stop drinking, then your body doesn't have to go through that recovery process the next day."
Here's what happens to your body when you stop drinking—on the outside and inside.
#You'll lose weight
If you've ever gone even a week without your favorite cocktail, you've likely noticed your clothing fits a little more loosely. (Hello, skinny jeans!) That's because when you cut out alcohol's empty calories, your body can focus on burning the other calories you consume. "Alcohol contains empty calories, which don't offer nutrients," Raichbach explains. Those empty calories aren't as satisfying as energy from whole foods with nutrients like protein and fiber and fat, so you're likely adding alcohol's calories on top of your nutritional needs. If you eat an adequate amount to maintain your weight, any excess calories will be stored as fat.
#You'll sleep better
Even drinking once or twice a week can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, Raichbach says. "People who quit drinking often notice that their weekends are more productive and restful because their sleep is restorative," he describes. That may seem counterintuitive—especially for people who struggle to fall asleep at night. "Even though alcohol makes you sleepy, it's not a useful sleep aid," Raichbach explains. "Moderate alcohol consumption diminishes your quality of sleep by reducing the production of melatonin, a hormone that tells our bodies when to sleep and when to wake up. It also increases another chemical that affects sleep regulation, adenosine." What's more, Greuner adds, consuming alcohol forces your brain to work in alpha waves, which is a meditative or resting wave state we typically experience when we're awake. With these hormones, chemicals and brain waves out of whack, you'll find yourself waking up in the middle of the night—or needing to nap at work. And restorative REM sleep can be elusive. Cutting out alcohol can help you sleep soundly through the night.

#You'll get sick less
Prone to head colds? Your nightly glass—or three—of wine could be to blame, says Greuner. While light to moderate drinking shouldn't increase your susceptibility, "even a single episode of binge drinking can lead to exertion on the immune system and cause inflammation—a common cause of many ailments." When you refrain from drinking to excess, you'll reduce and reverse inflammation. And because of that "over time, your immune system will be strengthened," Greuner explains.
#You'll improve your digestion
The liver is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins—including alcohol. When you take alcohol out of the equation, "the liver doesn't have to deal with metabolizing ethanol and can focus on being the body's filter for other toxins that we naturally encounter," Raichbach says. Drinking too much can also cause fatty liver disease, inflammation of the liver and, over time, cirrhosis and liver failure. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you're taking any medications. Some medicines interact with alcohol and can increase the risk of liver damage from drinking.

#You'll stay more hydrated
"Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases the rate at which you expel water from your body as urine," explains Raichbach. The need to go or not go to the bathroom begins in your brain, as your pituitary gland releases antidiuretic hormone (ADH) that tells your kidneys it's time to retain water. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol can have a temporary diuretic effect. "Alcohol causes ADH levels to drop, and as a result, the kidneys produce more urine and retain less water," Raichbach says. "When you stop drinking alcohol, you restore ADH levels to their natural state, and your kidneys expel the appropriate amount of water." By retaining water and staying hydrated, your whole body will feel better.

#Your skin will look better
Another plus to rehydrating your body is that your appearance may improve. "Though moderate drinking may not present a large number of immediate life-threatening concerns, it can quickly take a noticeable toll on your appearance—even after one night of overindulging," warns Greuner. "Less water in the body leads to some immediate and visible effects, including dry and more wrinkled skin, red cheeks, eczema and blood-shot eyes." But take a night—or a month—off from drinking, and you'll likely be happier with what you see in the mirror. "With the avoidance of alcohol and proper hydration, your skin should soon return to its normal healthy state," he says.

GAGS.BUZZ: What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Drinking
What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Drinking
Want to know exactly how long it takes for these benefits to kick in? With the help of Champion, we put together the following timeline of your body after that last glass of rosé. Read on to see the incredible things your body can do in the days, weeks, and months after you stop drinking.
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