Home page Psychology blog Bad Habits Substance Abuse “Not a drop more”: how quitting alcohol will make your life better

“Not a drop more”: how quitting alcohol will make your life better

26.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Alcohol has become a part of life for many. A bottle of beer in front of TV after work, a couple of glasses of wine for dinner, an unlimited number of cocktails at a friend’s birthday party… Even if you drink infrequently, drinking alcohol can become a serious problem sooner or later – it will develop an addiction that will take a long time to fight. In the article we will discuss an important question: how to quit alcohol. How will your life change after giving up alcohol?


Who should completely stop drinking alcohol?

quit drinking

Quitting alcohol is reducing the use of alcohol to a minimum level or its complete exclusion from life. [1]

There are many reasons why people at some point decide to completely quit alcohol. These can be health problems caused by excessive drinking. Another common reason is a person’s desire of a healthy lifestyle, having experienced all the advantages that quitting alcohol provides.

Sobriety is necessary if:

  • Alcohol addiction is developing rapidly – withdrawal symptoms appear, it is no longer possible to independently reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • There are physical or mental illnesses that increase with alcohol.
  • Even a small amount of alcohol leads to a loss of self-control – committing rash acts, excessive spending of money, aggression.
  • Pregnancy is planned.

You can understand whether you are addicted to alcohol by asking yourself: “Are you looking for reasons or excuses why you can and should drink? How often does this happen?” Assess how much the situation has changed lately. Answer these questions as honestly as possible.

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Thus, you can understand whether you really need to give up alcohol, or you already use it in small quantities, and have no dependence.

Quitter’s calendar: what happens after quitting alcohol?

“I won’t say that I drank too much and often. But the obligatory minimum of alcohol was this: a Friday party with friends for cocktails, a couple of bottles of beer a week for an interesting movie, Sunday dinner with my husband with 1-2 glasses of wine. The decision to completely abandon alcohol came unexpectedly. I just thought that it would be nice to test myself – if I can completely stop drinking alcohol. My life changed a lot when I quitted

As soon as I informed my friends that I stopped drinking, they took it as a joke and for a long time did not believe it. They thought that I was pregnant or ill with something, since I had made such a decision. My husband and I did not get used to my sobriety right away. Even my mother was distrustful of this decision – she asked if everything was okay with me. Strange, but people’s understanding of sobriety is something out of the ordinary.

Quitting alcohol was not easy for me. Whatever party I came to, acquaintances and unfamiliar people desperately tried to give me a drink – “for health”, “well, just a little bit”. There were more than enough temptations. But I held on. Only after a couple of months I got used to the idea that in my life there is no place for alcohol.

After a couple of months, I noticed that I had lost weight. All of these snacks for beer and wine obviously harmed my figure. I began to sleep much better – feeling vigor in the morning. My husband and I continue to meet friends. But feasts and noisy parties became much less. It turned out that without doping in the form of alcohol, loud music in bars is just annoying. I perceive all this as positive changes – so many free evenings have appeared. No more hangover in the morning. My husband and I joined a dance school. Not only parties can delight.

At the moment, I have not been drinking for six months. And I do not intend to interrupt my sober lifestyle – I found I like it. I am glad about everything that happened to me after quitting alcohol. It’s like I’ve become more free”.

– Marina, 30

If a person drinks only occasionally and strictly controls the amount of alcohol, giving up a bad habit will go easily. But when alcohol consumption develops into a disease, and physical dependence has already been formed, the body will “resist” lower doses of alcohol. It is worth preparing for the fact that the transition to a healthy lifestyle will drag on for more than one month.

How does the body recover after giving up alcohol?

PeriodPhysiological and emotional changes
Day 1After many years of drinking alcohol, even a day without alcohol is an impressive amount of time.  The body will demand another dose of ethyl alcohol. The first thing a drinker has to face is withdrawal syndrome of some severity. Symptoms are as follows:nausea, constipation, or diarrhea;dizziness;headache;hand tremor;fever;mood swings.
Day 2Signs of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, compared with the first day, are slightly reduced. But the body is still undergoing an active detoxification process – removal of the decay products of ethyl alcohol. This may be accompanied by abdominal pain. In some cases, during the recovery of the body, discomfort in the liver also manifests. The head continues to crackA person who has begun to fight addiction is seeking solitude, is annoyed, sometimes aggressive, suffering from insomnia or nightmares. He/she sees everything in black – it seems that it will always be so bad. Therefore, during the first days it is most difficult to cope with the desire to drink. He/she wants to get rid of these torments as soon as possible. At this moment, severe anxiety or panic fear can arise, sometimes flowing into an obsessive thought that if you do not drink, you can die. Everything is aggravated by the severe state of the body: in the process of restructuring to work without alcohol, all body systems can malfunction, that is why this terrible impression develops – “I will die if I don’t drink”.
Day 3The body in the first days after giving up alcohol begins recovering. Physical well-being is improving. But the psyche is still “at the limit”. The addict can even get annoyed with the sound of a dripping tap. Mood swings provoke a headache and outbreaks of aggression. Sleep is still disturbed.
Days 4-5Withdrawal syndrome in addicts at the 1st and 2nd stages of alcoholism almost completely recedes. The drinker begins to feel hungry. But heavy meals can cause nausea and stool problems.
Days 6-8The addict completely passes the withdrawal syndrome. His/her mental state significantly improves.About 7 days after quitting alcohol, sleep normalizes. A person begins to sleep stronger, which means he/she feels much more cheerful than before. The surge of energy often causes a desire to finally go in for sports.A person’s skin tone improves (swelling and red spots disappear) and hands cease to tremble, the work of the gastrointestinal tract normalizes.
2 weeksOver the next week, a restoration of thinking processes occurs – consciousness becomes clear, a confusion in thoughts finally disappears. Pain in the head no longer bothers.Doctors note that 2 weeks after a complete quitting of alcohol, heart rate and pressure indicators return to normal, shortness of breath disappears and breathing is restored.A person who has quitted drinking can experience weight gain during this period. Some try delicious food to compensate for alcohol.
MonthBy the end of the first month after giving up alcohol, the body removes the decay products of ethyl alcohol.However, the psychological state can be difficult: as a rule, a person is sad, depressed. He/she lost the usual model of behavior, and this is stressful. Now he/she needs to figure out how to live on, what to do, how to go on, etc. Only after one had gone through the first stage of withdrawal, he/she rejoices and enjoys a sober life for several days, but immediately after that the “struggle of motives” begins – “to drink or not to drink”, which is a stress and a risk of developing depression.On the one hand, a person understands that it has become easier for him/her and that he/she has endured severe pains, but the cravings that have formed a pattern of behavior do not allow alcohol to be completely abandoned. The person is between “to be or not to be”, the search for reasons for a drink begins, he/she is looking for excuses. Hence the mood swings, irritability increases. If you prepare for this, that is, understand that this is inevitable, but temporarily and soon will pass, it may be a little easier.But the physical condition improves – teeth whiten, swelling of the face and limbs disappears, dark circles go away. Trembling hands, if happened so before, no longer bother.During the first and subsequent months after giving up alcohol, liver function is actively restored.
3 monthsQuitter’s immunity begins to work at full power. A person is healthy and energetic. He/she has already learned to spend free time without alcohol, having found an interesting activity.Even a long period of abstinence is not a guarantee that a person will not break and start drinking alcohol again. The risk of relapse is still very high. If during periods of life difficulties the hand reaches for a bottle of alcohol, you need to stop yourself. Only willpower will help hold on.
6 months6 months is an impressive period of sober life. People struggling with addiction, during this time, as a rule, find interesting hobbies and activities. It helps not to think about alcohol while enjoying life.
Year The physical and emotional state of the person who quit drinking is stable. A person realizes that life without alcohol is beautiful. He/she actively communicates with friends and relatives, searches for goals in life and reaches them.
After a longtime quitting alcohol, the liver and kidneys are completely restored, if before any serious pathologies in the work of organs were not diagnosed.

Abrupt abandonment of alcohol: mistakes, consequences

It is believed that a sharp quitting alcohol can harm health. This is only partially true.

If we are talking about a rare taking of alcohol in small doses, then the complete abolition of alcohol-containing drinks will only positively affect the state of the body. A person with the right behavioral attitudes can easily and painlessly give up alcohol. In this case, the phrase “one can’t stop drinking abruptly” is just an excuse for those who are not yet ready to lead a sober lifestyle.

And for people who are diagnosed with the 1st or 2nd stage of alcoholism, a sharp quitting alcohol can, in fact, be harmful. They, as a rule, are faced with real withdrawals. Withdrawal syndrome shows itself in all its glory. In the acute stage, it can provoke the appearance of convulsions and fainting, which is fraught with negative health consequences. [1]

Why is the addict’s body reacting so violently to a decrease in the concentration of ethanol in blood? If a person was drinking for a long time, the functions of internal systems under the influence of alcohol changed significantly – the synthesis of enzymes and hormones was disrupted, the organs began to work with failures. It takes time to restore the body after giving up alcohol – the detoxification process lasts at least a month.

With diagnosed alcoholism, the detoxification process of the body should occur under the supervision of specialists. In some cases, medical removal of the patient from binge is required. Since a sharp quitting alcohol can have negative consequences for human health, it is impossible to practice various alternative methods of eliminating binge.

Benefits of a sober lifestyle

healthy lifestyle

Getting rid of alcohol addiction is a long way, which can be accompanied by numerous relapses. This is a real test of willpower and endurance. But as a reward you get all the benefits of a sober life.

What positive changes will occur after giving up alcohol?

  1. Good health 

Alcohol use negatively affects most organs. Even “weak” alcohol-containing drinks harm the liver, kidneys, pancreas, cardiovascular system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Quitting alcohol is an effective prevention of many serious illnesses that cause early death.

In general, a sober lifestyle strengthens the immune system. Say no to alcohol and you will see that in winter you become less sick. Already in the first month of quitting alcohol, the condition of the skin, hair and nails improves. You will notice that your appearance is much better.

  1. Good sleep 

It is believed that a couple of glasses of wine in the evening help fall asleep better. This is a myth that it’s time to stop believing. When the effect of alcohol passes, a person may wake up, which violates the rest. Sleep after drinking even a small amount of alcohol is alarming and shallow.

After 2-3 weeks of complete abandonment of alcohol, sleep is restored. Your rest is not violate by anything, which means that in the morning you feel cheerful. [2]

  1. Feeling happiness 

Many people think that alcohol is a somewhat great antidepressant. But the fact is that it provides a good mood only for a short time, and then – apathy, aggression, guilt. The whole spectrum of negative emotions goes away, you just have to drink a little more. This is how a psychological dependence on alcohol is formed – a person ceases to enjoy life without stimulation with alcoholic beverages.

Leading a sober lifestyle, you gradually learn to be happy without alcohol. When refusing alcohol, the body will “resist” this, demanding another portion of doping. But only a month will pass, and you look at the world with completely different eyes.

  1. Good memory 

Scientists have found , that drinking alcohol reduces a person’s ability to remember, because with the development of addiction, ethyl alcohol gradually destroys the neural connections in the brain. An “experienced” alcoholic will hardly remember the address or dates.

But breaking neural connections is a reversible process. It is just enough to stop drinking. Quitting alcohol, you will notice that thoughts become clearer – any information is better absorbed and remembered, the overall performance of the brain increases. It is believed that memory efficiency can be restored on average in 2-3 months.

  1. Financial stability 

Positive changes in the body are not the only advantage of refusing alcohol. Another nice bonus is saving money. High-quality alcoholic drinks are expensive – this can be an impressive blow to the budget.

Count for yourself how much you will save per month if you quit your daily serving of wine before bedtime.

9 tips to quit drinking

alcoholism therapy

It doesn’t matter how long you decide to stop drinking, switching to a sober lifestyle is associated with major changes in life. You will have to change the established habits, and work on yourself.

The following recommendations will help give up alcohol in the initial stages of consumption:

  1. Take a “sober pause”

Those who can’t get used to the idea that now in his/her life there will not be a drop of alcohol may try to fool the brain. A good option is to take a sober pause. That is, to begin with, set yourself an achievable goal – not to drink at all for 30 days. This will be a kind of pause in the established lifestyle with regular drinking.

Perhaps, having experienced all the positive changes after giving up alcohol, a short pause will give you an incentive to stop drinking forever.

  1. Find an interesting hobby

Replace bad addictions with good ones. This will distract you during the first, most difficult, weeks after a complete quitting of alcohol. An interesting hobby will calm, give positive emotions. If earlier only alcohol brought positive emotions, now a hobby will.

Think about what you would like to do, and proceed without hesitation.

  1. Relieve irritation with sports

Quitting syndrome is certainly accompanied by mood swings. Sadness, indefatigable joy, aggression, irritability – an addict can experience the whole range of emotions within an hour. This causes discomfort not only to him/her, but also to others.

According to narcologists, sports will help the body after a complete rejection of alcohol. Exercises will relieve psycho-emotional stress and distract from negative thoughts. Getting used to regular training can be difficult, but over time it will become easier, and the effort will pay off handsomely. You will become calmer, and in addition, will bring the body into shape and strengthen the immune system.

Physical activity can help with the rejection of alcohol at the initial stage, in the so-called “pink period”. In this case, it is advisable to first obtain permission from a doctor.

  1. Start planning your day

If you give up alcohol, you will have to learn how to plan each day (at least for the first time). Let your schedule have as many free “windows” as possible – then there will be no temptation to spend a boring evening with a glass of wine or beer. Literally, in a month you don’t have to force yourself – you will have a lot of interesting hobbies.

  1. Show your willpower

Most likely, sooner or later you will come across a temptation – a party with friends, a feast with relatives. Show your willpower and give up alcohol. At first this may turn out to be unusual, but very soon you will learn to have fun without any doping.

In the periods of even temporary quitting alcohol, it is not necessary to stay at home. Meet with friends and relatives. But just make sure in advance that there will be enough soft drinks at the party.

  1. Tell your aspiration to the world

Share your decision to stop drinking with others, at least with the closest people. Friends and families will certainly support your goals. And with such a base, you can overcome any difficulties. In addition, you minimize the risk of breaks – knowing that you have seriously decided to give up alcohol, friends will not persuade you to drink.

Blogging on the Internet will help someone. It motivates. Share your successes and failures with subscribers, get support from them.

  1. Start keeping your “diary of sobriety”

Not ready to make your goals and plans public? Then keep a personal diary. It is also useful in getting rid of bad habits.

On the pages of the diary, record every day in the process of quitting alcohol: physical and emotional state after giving up alcohol, further plans and goals.

  1. Made a mistake? Do not be discouraged

No one is immune from mistakes on the way to achieving the goal. Given how difficult it is to deal with addictions, do not blame yourself if you fail trying to stop drinking forever. This is not a failure, but just a difficulty on the right track. Let this be an additional motivation, so that the next time you definitely will not break.

  1. Use 7Spsy behavior modification technique

A sober lifestyle goal deserves respect. But it’s not necessary to go alone. The process of completely abandoning alcohol will go much easier if you turn to a psychologist for some help.

We will help you to give up alcohol

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Behavioral psychology based on changing a destructive behavior model shows effectiveness in combating addictions. An excellent result was shown by the 7Spsy behavior modification technique. This is a patented method based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky.

Passing the course will help you develop positive attitudes and stop drinking alcohol. You will learn the healthy behavior model necessary if you set the goal to finally say a solid no to alcohol. Training will help switch to a sober lifestyle with a minimal physical and psychological discomfort. You will realize how good it is to live without alcohol – you will be accompanied by a stable emotional state, high performance and well-being.

Working with a psychologist on 7Spsy behavior modification technique is designed for up to 6 weeks. You will not need to share with your friends and family that you are undergoing a training. Trainings are strictly confidential, and you can take them at a time convenient for you. Specialists answer all questions and advise by e-mail, in chat rooms and by phone.


  1. «Klinika alkogolizma», 1981 g., A. Portnov.
  2. «Psihologiya pozitivnyh izmenenij. Kak navsegda izbavit’sya ot vrednyh privychek», 2017 g., D. Prohazka.