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What Happens to Your Body When You Don't Drink Alcohol for a Month?

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We’ve all heard of Sober October or Dry Furnace, a finite period of time when people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol as a way to give their bodies a “break” or “reset”.

Alcohol abstinence doesn’t have to be a one-month trend. If at any point you want to take a break from drinking, doing so has numerous mental and physical benefits.

Some changes associated with temporary alcohol withdrawal can be harmful if not done with adequate supervision, especially if you have an alcohol use disorder. However, if you’re someone who has a more relaxed relationship with booze, there are benefits to cutting it out for a long time.

We spoke to several health professionals to better understand what temporary alcohol withdrawal does for the mind and body, and what to know before you begin:

Your skin will improve.

Perhaps one of the immediate changes you will see after quitting alcohol is clearer skin. Alcohol causes the body and skin to dehydrate and dry out, creating a dull, gray appearance. It can also cause acne as it alters hormonal levels.

“Skin and face color usually returns to normal… your elasticity is restored and you can feel jaundice, redness or grayish [color] The area around the eyes or the face will decrease with abstinence and inflammation in the body will decrease. warrior heartAn addiction treatment center in Bandera County, Texas.

Even taking a temporary break from alcohol can help skin feel and look younger and refreshed.

You will get better quality sleep.

Sometimes people have a glass of wine or a drink before bed to unwind and relax and think it will help them get into a better sleep routine. However, binge drinking or drinking for long periods of time, disturb sleep The patterns often cause sleep disturbance or discomfort during the night.

When you take a break from alcohol, “sleep patterns will usually return to normal, and REM sleep and sleep quality will return to healthy patterns,” Weber said.

Instead of an alcoholic beverage before bed, try other alternatives such as decaffeinated warm tea or warm milk. In general, better sleep also improves mood and quality of life.

Your memory and cognition will become sharper.

There are also mental and neurological changes that can occur as a result of short-term abstinence. When you drink alcohol, it affects the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for judgment and reasoning, as well as the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance and coordination.

“Staying away from alcohol for several months will improve memory and thinking. It will also allow for partial correction of structural brain changes and increase memory or cognitive functions such as problem solving, attention span and rational thinking,” Weber explained.

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Brain and mood boosts are just some of the positive benefits you can expect when you do a month (or more) sober.

It can reduce your cancer risk.

this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies alcohol as a carcinogen, meaning drinking increases the risk of cancer. Alcohol has been associated with cancer of the mouth and throat, cancer of the larynx, esophagus, colon and liver, and breast cancer in women. Scientifically speaking, the body breaks down alcohol into a chemical. acetaldehyde, a known contributor to tumors.

But prolonged withdrawal reduces the risk of developing cancer, as the body is not exposed to this toxin, he said. Lawrence Weinsteina board-certified physician and chief medical officer of the American Centers for Addiction.

It can lead to better organ function.

heavy drinking A night out or over time can lead to a number of diseases such as liver damage (cirrhosis), fatty liver and even pancreatitis.

Dr. Bruce Bassia board-certified addiction psychiatrist told how abstinence from alcohol, even temporarily, can heal organs in the nervous system, cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal systems heal and heal.

“Since alcohol can affect the absorption and use of vitamins and nutrients, abstaining from alcohol allows your body to start using them more effectively,” she explained.

Additionally, Weinstein noted that research has shown that your cardiovascular health returns to baseline just one month after quitting alcohol.

It improves your mental health.

Restricting or eliminating your alcohol consumption for a short time can help alleviate any complications with your mental health.

Alcohol is known to exacerbate or contribute to depression, anxiety, and more. Research shows that anxiety can increase after drinking, and many people experience mood effects after alcohol.

Alcohol is also a depressant that can cause neurotransmitters in the brain (such as serotonin, which is responsible for positive emotions) to run out of control. As the university at Buffalo’s Addictions Clinical and Research Institute points out:

Misfiring of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, is directly associated with clinical depression (not to be confused with the temporary “feeling bad” after heavy alcohol consumption, which disappears after a few days).

It may contribute to some withdrawal symptoms (but this is not a reason not to take a break or stop altogether).

Bassi also noted that the body may withdraw when alcohol is no longer part of your system.

“There are many ‘post-acute’ effects of alcohol withdrawal that can last up to a year,” he said. “Some of the post-acute symptoms are bothersome and sustain alcohol use, making it very difficult to stop. Post-acute symptoms include difficulty concentrating, irritability, fatigue, low motivation, anxiety, and mood swings.

alcohol withdrawal It can be serious in long-term drinkers, as it can lead to seizures and crazy tendencies. If you are not comfortable or unable to leave on your own, seek help from a doctor or leave in a controlled environment such as a treatment facility.

Weinstein added that there are medications (such as naltrexone) that can help by blocking the reinforcing effects of alcohol and make it less likely to continue drinking, but these should be used with appropriate behavioral therapy. Any medicinal use should be discussed with a medical professional prior to use.

Overall, abstinence from alcohol can have positive consequences for your body and brain – whether it’s a short break from alcohol or (ideally) a longer period of time. Work with a doctor or therapist if you need some help getting there.

Need help with a substance use disorder or mental health problem? In the US, call 800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA National Helpline.