Whether you are stopping for good, or just having some time off, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the changes you may see when you stop drinking.
But first, if you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms of alcohol dependence, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional about it as soon as possible, as alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous. There are also a number of national alcohol support services that you can go to for advice.
If you’re concerned you may be alcohol dependant take our confidential alcohol self-assessment test.
Short term benefits
Say goodbye to hangovers
It may sound obvious, but stopping drinking means you will no longer suffer from hangovers. The nausea, headaches or tiredness you may have felt the morning after drinking could be replaced with improved mood as well as feelings of productivity.
Regular, heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. So while you might feel relaxed after a drink, in the long run alcohol can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Stopping drinking could make feelings of stress easier to deal with.
Improved energy levels and better sleep
If you stop drinking completely, one of the first things you notice should be improved energy levels.
Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep making you feel tired and sluggish. This is because drinking disrupts your sleep cycle.1
When you drink alcohol before bed you may fall into deep sleep quicker. This is why some people find drinking alcohol helps them get to sleep. But as the night goes on you spend less time in this deep sleep and more time than usual in the less restful, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep2.
This can leave you feeling tired the next day no matter how long you stay in bed.
But having alcohol-free days can help. Once you reduce the amount you’re drinking, you should start sleeping better and find it easier to wake up in the morning.
Your skin will look better
Drinking less alcohol can have a positive impact on your appearance and your skin in particular.
Alcohol dehydrates your body, including the skin, and this happens every time you drink. This can cause your skin and eyes to look dull. But if you reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, your skin and eyes should soon start to look brighter.
You could lose weight
A pint of lager can contain the same amount of calories as a slice of pizza, or a large glass of wine the same an ice cream sundae.
Alcoholic drinks contain lots of ‘empty’ calories, meaning your body doesn’t get any nutritional value from alcohol. In fact, alcohol contains almost as many calories as pure fat. Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy.
Not drinking at all is likely to make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
If you are overweight and you regularly drink alcohol, you should find that your weight falls noticeably if you reduce the amount you drink each week. And you can maintain your healthier weight by not starting to drink more again.
How drinking can impact weight loss