Book an appointment Feather-communication-phone
plushcare-online-doctor

Blog Primary Care

How to Quit Drinking

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 30, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

DISCLAIMER: PlushCare is unable to treat severe alcohol addiction and withdrawal. We recommend in-person treatment with a physician, addiction specialist, or therapist.

How to Quit Drinking Safely: Timeline, Benefits, and Tips

Have you been wondering how to quit drinking alcohol? For most people, it is not as simple as just deciding not to drink anymore, and, in rare cases, stopping drinking can actually cause potentially fatal side effects. There is no need to despair, though. It is possible to quit drinking, and the benefits are numerous. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: You should see an addiction specialist if you are battling moderate to severe alcoholism. However, the following tips may help many people quit or cut back on their drinking.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Quitting alcohol has many physical and emotional benefits, including:

  • Better skin. Heavy alcohol use can cause many skin conditions, including worsening psoriasis, jaundice showing serious liver damage, and dilated capillaries on your face and nose. 
  • Healthier weight. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories. Plus, many people who quit drinking choose to take better overall care of their health.
  • Improved sleep. Alcohol interferes with your sleep-wake cycle and may cause sleep apnea. The longer you go without drinking, the more your sleep quality should improve.
  • Lower cardiovascular risk. Heavy drinkers are more likely to have heart problems than non-drinkers.
  • Reduced risk of cancer. Heavy drinking increases your risk of developing several types of cancer, including liver, breast, oral, throat, laryngeal, esophageal, colon, and rectal.
  • Improved immunity. Alcohol negatively impacts your immune system, making alcoholics more prone to things like pneumonia or tuberculosis.
  • Better mental health. While many people drink in an attempt to manage or mask their mental health symptoms, heavy alcohol use can negatively impact your mental health.

How to Quit Drinking on Your Own Safely

What is the best way to quit drinking? There is no one way that will work for everybody to stop drinking. However, there are some steps that may help, including:

  • Determine how much you actually drink
  • Figure out why you drink
  • Come up with a plan to stop drinking
  • Tell your loved ones
  • Find a community of nondrinkers to spend time with
  • Plan ahead about how to turn down a drink when offered
  • Do not keep any alcohol in your home
  • Find a new favorite (nonalcoholic) drink
  • Start keeping a journal
  • Change your routine to avoid places and situations that cause you to want to drink
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Focus on your health
  • Start going to therapy to address underlying issues causing you to drink

Quitting Drinking Timeline

While everyone’s timeline will be different, a typical quitting drinking timeline looks something like this:

  • 2-12 hours since last drink: Beginning of withdrawal symptoms, which may include anxiety, insomnia, retching, headache, excessive sweating, and hand tremors.
  • 12-24 hours: Continued withdrawal symptoms, including visual, auditory or tactile hallucinations, depressed mood, alcohol cravings, reduced energy, and disturbed sleep.
  • 12-72 hours: Severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, increased blood pressure, or raised heart rate.
  • 3-7 days: Withdrawal symptoms stop for most people.
  • 1-2 weeks: The end of clinical detox, improved sleep, potential weight loss.
  • 3-4 weeks: Decreased blood pressure and improved skin.
  • 3 months: General sense of better health and more energy.
  • 1 year. Almost everybody stops experiencing lingering side effects from quitting drinking.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Quit Drinking?

For most people, recovery is a lifetime effort. With that being said, the worst withdrawal symptoms usually stop within a week and most people have a better sense of wellbeing after 3 months without a drink.

What Happens to The Body When You Stop Drinking?

Apart from the many benefits of quitting drinking, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Headache
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness
  • Fatigue

Delirium Tremens

Some people can experience a severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens (DT). About 37% who have DTs die from it without proper treatment, so if you have any of the following symptoms after you stop drinking, get immediate medical attention:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure

What Happens to Your Body After a Week of No Alcohol?

After a week of no alcohol, you should see a decrease of symptoms or stop experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. You may also notice improved sleep and some weight loss.

How Long Does it Take to Feel Better When You Stop Drinking?

Results will differ for everybody. However, withdrawal symptoms usually stop within a week, and most people report an improved sense of wellbeing within 3 months.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Talk to a Doctor or Therapist Online About Quitting Drinking

If you want to talk to a doctor about more tips for quitting drinking, or if you want to talk to a therapist to address some of the underlying reasons causing you to drink, PlushCare can help.

While our doctors cannot treat alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal, they are available 7 days a week to talk to you about any concerns you have related to your drinking or how it is affecting your health.

To have an online appointment with one of our trusted doctors, click here or download the PlushCare App.

Many people drink alcohol to manage symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression. If that sounds like you, online therapy from one of our licensed therapists may help. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with a therapist, click here

DISCLAIMER: PlushCare does not have addiction specialists, and we CANNOT treat severe alcoholism or those struggling with alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal. We can help people who have mild alcoholism or who may not be alcoholics but are looking to quit drinking and are struggling. However, if you are struggling with moderate to severe alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal, then you should see an addiction specialist.


Read More About Quitting Drinking


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Alcohol.org. Alcoholism. Accessed on March 17, 2021 at https://www.alcohol.org/alcoholism/ 

Harvard Medical School. 11 Ways to Curb Your Drinking. Accessed on January 21, 2021 at https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/11-ways-to-curb-your-drinking

National Institutes of Health.Alcohol and Alcoholism: International Journal of the Medical Council on Alcoholism. The Association Between Health Changes and Cessation of Alcohol Consumption. Accessed on January 21, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397877/

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Nutrition reviews. Alcohol consumption and body weight: a systematic review. Accessed on March 29, 2021 at
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21790610/

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Our commitment to you.

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of…

Leah McCabe 5 minutes
World No Tobacco Day: How to Quit Smoking

World No Tobacco Day: How to Quit Smoking

World No Tobacco Day: How to Quit Smoking World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31 by…

Leah McCabe 5 minutes
Pink Eye Signs, Remedies, and Treatments

Pink Eye Signs, Remedies, and Treatments

What Is Pink Eye? Pink eye, known medically as conjunctivitis, is a common condition that can affect both children and…

Mark Spera 15 minutes