7 Things I Learned After Cutting out Alcohol for 10 Days (2022)

I’ve rarely met a drink that I didn’t like. Hand me a crisp, refreshing Pilsner, a glass of dry Bordeaux, or a pleasantly bitter aperol spritz—and I’ll savor each and every sip. But I’ve never considered myself someone who drinks too much.

Even the Mediterranean Diet encourages the occasional glass of red wine for good heart health, and the world’s oldest man (who probably followed the Mediterranean Diet) attributed his 133 years of age to a diet of vegetables and wine. One fairly recent study even suggests that moderate amounts of wine may stave off Alzheimer's disease.

7 Things I Learned After Cutting out Alcohol for 10 Days (1)

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(Video) What Happens In The First 7 - 10 Days After You Quit Drinking Alcohol

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines moderate drinking for women as seven drinks a week, and no more than three drinks on any given day. For the most part, I try to stick to this—but there are plenty of nights where I’ll pour myself an extra glass of wine. Besides, I exercise daily, I eat a balanced diet, and I get plenty of sleep—so going over just a little bit should be okay for me, right?

Well, maybe not. A major new study conducted by the University of Cambridge found that consuming more than five drinks a week can actually increase your chance of mortality from cardiovascular disease (you can read more about the study here). Some sources, including this article in the Guardian, are even asserting now that drinking is just as harmful as smoking.

The University of Cambridge study is noteworthy because it’s among the first to point out that even moderate drinking may be destructive to our health. For a beer lover/wino like me, that’s pretty disheartening news. But it did make me consider my current consumption. It’s not like I was getting smashed every night, but even as a moderate drinker, could I be drinking too much?

Here at Cooking Light, we often talk about the best low-calorie beers, boxed wine, and even alcoholic seltzers. But we don’t often talk about the other side of the spectrum—not drinking.

It turns out, talking about how not to drink when you’ve never done it before is pretty damn difficult. So, to truly understand how to drink less, I decided to take a hard reset—10 days of complete abstinence from alcohol. No beer, no wine, no liquor.

I went about the week as I normally would, whether it was meeting friends at a bar or enjoying a night at home. During these 10 days, I tore through two 12-packs of LaCroix, tried a non-alcoholic beer for the first (and last) time, and discovered that mocktails are actually really, really delicious.

So, now that this is said and done, will I still continue to drink? Yes—but with every sip, I’ll strive to be more mindful about my long-term health. But most importantly of all is how I’ll define moderate drinking going forward. Do I really need to have two (or more) glasses of wine every night? No, I don’t. LaCroix is perfectly fine.

(Video) NO ALCOHOL FOR 50 DAYS!! HOW I DID IT AND WHAT HAPPENED! (SHOCKING)

Below, find out the insights I gained after cutting out alcohol for 10 days. I hope that these lessons inspire you to improve one small thing in your diet—whether it’s alcohol, added sugar, or diet soda. With a little mental strength, creativity, and support from friends or family, you can break a bad habit.

Give every drink you have a purpose.

Credit: Getty images / Lumina Images

Temporarily eliminating something you love from your diet can help you gain a greater appreciation of it. For me, this exact thing happened with alcohol. Instead of pouring yourself a glass of wine just because, give every drink a purpose. Whether it’s sipping a fruity pinot noir with roasted chicken, or catching up with a friend over your favorite IPA, being more mindful about when you’re drinking will ultimately help you keep your intake in check.

Out of sight, out of mind.

During the first night of my 10-day endeavor, I couldn’t stop staring at the bright red Bota Box container on my kitchen counter. Finally, it hit me—I craved a glass of wine because it was right in front of me. When I stored the box inside my cabinet, I thought about it much less. Eliminating visual reminders of alcohol is an easy way to curb your cravings at home. Store your wine or liquor in an area that you don’t easily see, like inside a cabinet or in a separate fridge.

Mocktails are actually just as delicious as cocktails.

Credit: Jennifer Causey

(Video) 7 SHOCKING Lessons I Learned Quitting Alcohol

A few days in, a wine-loving friend invited me over for dinner. When I told her I wasn’t able to drink this time, she was surprisingly excited. “Have you ever had a mocktail?” she asked. Sure, I had heard of mocktails (we have tons of mocktail recipes on Cooking Light), but I’d never actually made one.

My friend keeps a running supply of homemade shrubs—or drinking vinegars—in her fridge, which she suggested as a mocktail base. Here’s a loose rendition of her concoction: crushed ice, a blackberry-mint shrub she’d recently made, Angostura bitters, soda water, and a squeeze of lime. In a word, WOW. Crisp, bright, and complex, this mocktail was mind-blowingly good. (Okay, I realize that bitters contain trace amounts of alcohol—but we only used a few drops!)

You can still go out and still have fun.

Credit: ilbusca/Getty Images

Taking the focus off the booze can help you hone in on why you’re out in the first place—to spend time with friends. On top of that, most bars and breweries these days offer plenty of ways to entertain yourself if you're not drinking, whether it’s cornhole or jumbo-size Jenga.

(Video) 7 Big Lessons I Learned When I Quit Drinking

When I ventured out with a few girlfriends on Friday night, I was thrilled to find a bar with an old school Pac-Man machine. I played a few rounds while I sipped on my go-to non-alcoholic drink, seltzer water and lime. I decided to try something different for drink number two—a non-alcoholic beer from Guinness calledKaliber. This amber-colored “beer” looked promising, but the flavor (very malty, zero hops) was pretty underwhelming.

I reverted back to seltzer and lime, caught up with my friends, and played about five more rounds of Pac-Man. Honestly, it was a spectacular night.

You will save money.

During my Friday night out, I calculated how much I would have spent if I was drinking beer. For two seltzers with lime and one gag-worthy root beer, my total tab was about five dollars. For three beers, it probably would have been closer to $25—before the tip! You really can’t argue with that. However, because my bill was so low, and because it felt like the right thing to do, I left a very generous tip for the bartender.

You’ll save a ton of calories, too.

I also calculated roughly how many calories I saved by not drinking beer on Friday. I normally order craft beer—which can contain over 300 calories per glass. For the three beers I would have had that night, I’d be looking at an intake of nearly 1000 calories! That’s almost half of my daily allotted calories.

You’ll be SO much more productive in the morning.

Credit: Tony Anderson/Getty Images

I’ll admit, the greatest part about going out to a bar sober on a Friday night was not waking up with a hangover the next morning. I typically go for a long run pretty early on Saturdays to beat the heat. This week, I woke up hydrated and rested—both of which helped get me through the final tough miles of the run. On top of that, I cleaned my entire apartment, did my laundry, and planned a trip—all before noon!

(Video) 10 Things You Will Learn After Quitting Alcohol

The bottom line: There are a lot of positives to going sober, even just for a few days. Will I give up my IPAs or occasional glass of vino? Probably not. But I’m definitely going to be more mindful of how I drink—and how much I drink.

FAQs

How long after you quit drinking does your body return to normal? ›

48-72 hours after you stop drinking

For the majority, the symptoms of withdrawal will begin to subside at this point, allowing you to function more normally and manage your symptoms.

What happens when you don't drink alcohol for a month? ›

“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term; by August, people are reporting one extra dry day per week,” notes Dr. de Visser. “There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in 10 people save money, seven in 10 sleep better, and three in five lose weight,” he adds.

What I learned from giving up alcohol? ›

What are the results? A few months in, I experienced improved sleep, increased energy, less spiky blood sugar, better mental health, fewer bouts of anxiety. These days, I have fewer headaches and my whole digestive system, in general, feels less irritated and inflamed, with a growing sense of general wellbeing.

How long do mood swings last after quitting drinking? ›

Mood problems.

It's common to feel anxious or cranky. Your mood should get better within 3 to 6 weeks. Tell your doctor if it doesn't. You may need treatment for long-term symptoms or an undiagnosed mental health condition.

What does 3 weeks without alcohol do to your body? ›

Overall benefits of three weeks without alcohol

Clear skin. More energy. Improved gym performance. Reduced anxiety and improved mood.

How do you know if your liver is healing properly? ›

You will experience physical signs your liver is healing, such as healthier-looking skin and eyes, increased energy levels, and reduced stomach pain and swelling. Other signs your liver is healing include: Improved amino-acid regulation – Your liver processes proteins and amino acids that your body cannot store.

What happens to your body when you stop drinking week by week? ›

After One Week: After one week without alcohol, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease will start to decrease. This is because alcohol can increase your blood pressure and make your heart work harder. 3 In the coming weeks, your liver will also begin to repair itself. 3.

Will my heart get better if I stop drinking? ›

Can the Heart Recover After Prolonged Alcohol Abuse? When a person stops drinking alcohol completely, their heart muscle has the chance to strengthen and will gradually improve over time. However, some heart diseases are chronic, which means a person will never fully recover, even if they quit drinking.

What can I drink instead of alcohol? ›

Next time you're faced with a difficult situation or craving, try one of the following non-alcoholic drink options to avoid cravings and temptation.
  • Tea (hot or cold) ...
  • Fruit and herb-infused water. ...
  • Sparkling water. ...
  • Coffee (hot or iced) ...
  • Club soda with flavored syrup. ...
  • Spiced apple cider. ...
  • Juice. ...
  • Soda water and herbs.
11 Sept 2019

Do you look younger when you stop drinking? ›

When your skin dries out, it becomes less elastic. As a result, you might look older and more wrinkled after just one night of heavy drinking. If you drink often, the effect is compounded. However, once you quit drinking, you start looking younger pretty quickly.

Do I have to be sober forever? ›

Wondering if you have to stay sober forever is a common debate after leaving rehab. Thinking about forever can be overwhelming. But, in reality, you can stay sober for the rest of your life, but some people might find it easier to focus on it one day at a time. After all, recovery is all about taking the first step.

Why giving up alcohol is good for you? ›

Benefits of taking a break or cutting down

fewer alcohol-related symptoms, like headaches, heartburn, indigestion and stomach upsets. less fatty build up around the liver. improving existing conditions - depression, high blood pressure or skin conditions like rosacea. better sleep.

What happens emotionally when you quit drinking? ›

Alcohol use overloads the brain with dopamine, while also reducing the brain's dopamine receptors in the process. When you first quit drinking, the lack of dopamine and diminished receptors can lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

How long does it take for brain chemistry to return to normal after alcohol? ›

The new research shows that it takes at least two weeks for the brain to start returning to normal, so this is the point at which the alcohol recovery timeline begins. Until the brain has recovered, it is less able so suppress the urge to drink. This is because the alcohol has impaired the brains cognitive ability.

How long does anxiety last when you quit drinking? ›

If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you can experience anxiety symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal that last approximately 3-7 days, with the first 48 hours being the most difficult. Some people can experience anxiety symptoms that last longer than 7 days.

What happens to your body 7 days without alcohol? ›

Going even 7 days alcohol free can help reduce your anxiety and depression levels and help your brain chemicals come back in balance. It leads to an overall improvement in brain function and mental health, even if you haven't experienced issues before.

What happens on day 4 of no alcohol? ›

However, by day 4 without alcohol, most people will have got beyond any initial withdrawal symptoms. All the alcohol will have left your system by now, and your body will begin to bounce back. If you're not as focused on alcohol, you may be eating better, drinking water, moving more, and perhaps sleeping more deeply.

Is a week off alcohol good for you? ›

All of your body's systems are back to their usual working levels. You may find that you have more energy and better concentration. Even if you toss and turn a bit at first, when you do drop off you'll get better-quality sleep and probably wake feeling more refreshed the next day.

What vitamins are good for liver repair? ›

Vitamins that play a crucial role in maintaining liver health include vitamin D, E, C, B. Individuals need to take these vitamins regularly through a healthy diet plan.

How do you know if your liver is improving? ›

There are different kinds of liver disease, so there are different ways to monitor the progression or regression (improvement) of liver disease. For example, blood tests for transaminases are often used to monitor liver inflammation. If the numbers go down, that's a good sign.

What are 4 warning signs of damaged liver? ›

Tip-offs to Liver Damage
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes or skin.
  • Pain and distention of the abdomen due to the release of fluid from the liver.
  • Swelling of lower legs due to fluid retention.
  • Confusion or forgetfulness. ...
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Pale-colored stool.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
9 Nov 2021

What happens to your skin when you stop drinking? ›

After a month of staying margarita-free, your skin will likely be significantly healthier-looking. According to both Ross and Dr. Mauricio, your skin will have less swelling, a more even tone, and a more hydrated look.

What is considered a heavy drinker? ›

For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week.

What happens to your liver when you stop drinking for a week? ›

So what happens when you stop drinking? The good news is that the liver is the only organ that can restore and regenerate itself. Because the liver is in a constant state of regeneration, in many cases the healing process can begin within just weeks after foregoing alcohol.

What happens if you drink alcohol everyday for a year? ›

High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum. Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.

What happens when you stop drinking all of a sudden? ›

When you abruptly stop drinking, your body is deprived of the effects of alcohol and requires time to adjust to functioning without it. This adjustment period causes the painful side effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as shakes, insomnia, nausea, and anxiety.

Can kidneys recover from alcohol damage? ›

The kidneys can often recover from alcohol damage. Studies show that many of the kidney-related problems caused by alcohol use resolve with four weeks of abstinence.

What gives you the same buzz as alcohol? ›

Sentia is made from plant extracts that can mimic the effects of alcohol, and is meant to top out around the feeling of having a glass or two of wine.

What can I drink to relax instead of alcohol? ›

What to drink instead of alcohol
  • Soda and fresh lime. Proof that simple is still the best.
  • Berries in iced water. This summery drink will keep you refreshed and revitalised.
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Virgin bloody Mary. ...
  • Virgin Mojito. ...
  • Half soda/half cranberry juice and muddled lime. ...
  • Soda and fresh fruit. ...
  • Mocktails.

Can CBD replace alcohol? ›

Impressively, it seems that CBD might be able to replace alcohol by actually helping you to put down the booze. Researchers have found that CBD may help treat alcohol addiction. One review study found that CBD contributed to animals with alcohol use disorder reducing their alcohol intake (1).

Can alcohol change your face? ›

Alcohol can cause water retention in your face. This makes your face look bloated and puffy.

How long after you stop drinking does your skin look better? ›

The best part is that you don't have to wait an entire month to start seeing the changes. Most people who give up alcohol notice that their skin is dewy, and healthier looking after just one week. By the end of the month, you're likely to see less swelling, clearer skin, and an overall healthy glow.

What is wine face? ›

The characteristics of Wine Face, as told to Cosmopolitan, are 'pronounced lines or redness between the eyes, droopy eyelids, enlarged pores, dehydrated skin with feathery lines across cheeks, reddish cheeks and nose, deep nasolabial folds'.

How do you stay sober forever? ›

Even if you have cravings to use, be honest with yourself. Once you acknowledge these thoughts for yourself, you can reach out to your sober friends for help. Staying sober forever is really about staying sober one day or one moment at a time. You can't do recovery alone.

Is it cool being sober? ›

Being Sober is more than Cool

Living sober allows you to be healthier, both mentally and physically. You don't pollute your body with toxins, you get quality sleep, and you never have a hangover. You are more thoughtful about your actions and words – which makes for a great friend.

Is it okay to be sober? ›

In fact, being sober can make your life more fun and rewarding than it's ever been before. While it's not easy to stop drinking or using drugs, especially if you're battling addiction, the decision to get sober will change your life forever, so consider making a commitment to sobriety today – you'll be glad you did.

What Happens After 2 weeks of not drinking? ›

After two weeks without drinking, the stomach lining can start to normalize, and acid burn can be reduced. This can cause you to regain your appetite and feel fewer symptoms of nausea and indigestion.

Can your liver heal in a month? ›

Healing can begin as early as a few days to weeks after you stop drinking, but if the damage is severe, healing can take several months. In some cases, “if the damage to the liver has been long-term, it may not be reversible,” warns Dr.

What happens after a week of no alcohol? ›

Milder withdrawal symptoms include sweating, shakes, headaches, and nausea, and you might have problems eating or sleeping. You may also feel anxious, irritable or agitated. While these symptoms are bothersome and even unpleasant, you'll be able to manage most of them by yourself.

What happens to you mentally when you stop drinking? ›

You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms if You Stop Drinking

Withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, tremors, sleep problems, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety, restlessness, and possibly even seizures.

Can quitting alcohol cure anxiety? ›

It's true. Quitting alcohol, over time, can alleviate intense episodes of anxiety. It can also reduce the possibility of long-term anxiety disorders. Treatment options are available to address dual diagnosis care.

What I learned after quitting drinking? ›

What are the results? A few months in, I experienced improved sleep, increased energy, less spiky blood sugar, better mental health, fewer bouts of anxiety. These days, I have fewer headaches and my whole digestive system, in general, feels less irritated and inflamed, with a growing sense of general wellbeing.

What is the fastest way to increase dopamine? ›

Getting enough sleep, exercising, listening to music, meditating, and spending time in the sun can all boost dopamine levels. Overall, a balanced diet and lifestyle can go a long way in increasing your body's natural production of dopamine and helping your brain function at its best.

How do you reset your dopamine levels? ›

Things You Can Do to Reset Your Brain's Dopamine Levels
  1. Create exciting daily routines. Incorporate fun activities into your daily routine, even if they are mindless activities. ...
  2. Focus on perfecting your sleep schedule. ...
  3. Improve your diet. ...
  4. Exercise. ...
  5. Practice mindfulness. ...
  6. Listen to music.
24 Apr 2022

How do I know if I have brain damage from alcohol? ›

Difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory: Clearly, alcohol affects the brain. Some of these impairments are detectable after only one or two drinks and quickly resolve when drinking stops.

How long do mood swings last after quitting drinking? ›

Mood problems.

It's common to feel anxious or cranky. Your mood should get better within 3 to 6 weeks. Tell your doctor if it doesn't. You may need treatment for long-term symptoms or an undiagnosed mental health condition.

How long does alcohol depressive effects last? ›

The duration of alcohol-induced depression can vary widely. Generally speaking, depressive symptoms associated with alcohol-induced depression have been shown to improve significantly after you've abstained from alcohol for a certain amount of time, typically 3-4 weeks in many cases.

Do alcoholics have panic attacks? ›

Alcohol has an effect on brain chemistry - it can induce panic because of its effects on GABA, a chemical in the brain that normally has a relaxing effect. Small amounts of alcohol can stimulate GABA and cause feelings of relaxation, but heavy drinking can deplete GABA, causing increased tension and feelings of panic.

What happens to your body after 2 months of not drinking? ›

“Within a month to a few months, we start to see a decrease in heart-related issues such as high cholesterol and blood pressure levels,” Johnson says. “Future cancer risks — such throat, stomach, and liver cancer — also decrease significantly.” Cheers to that.

How long does it take for brain chemistry to return to normal after alcohol? ›

The new research shows that it takes at least two weeks for the brain to start returning to normal, so this is the point at which the alcohol recovery timeline begins. Until the brain has recovered, it is less able so suppress the urge to drink. This is because the alcohol has impaired the brains cognitive ability.

What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol? ›

Generally, symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include abdominal pain and tenderness, dry mouth and increased thirst, fatigue, jaundice (which is yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, and nausea. Your skin may look abnormally dark or light.

What happens after 40 days of not drinking alcohol? ›

Within days you'll notice more energy, improved sleep and clearer eyes with less-noticeable under-eye circles. Within one week you'll notice less fluid retention and will start to see brighter skin. You'll also likely notice fewer cravings, improved mental clarity and an increased ability to focus.

What can I drink instead of alcohol? ›

Next time you're faced with a difficult situation or craving, try one of the following non-alcoholic drink options to avoid cravings and temptation.
  • Tea (hot or cold) ...
  • Fruit and herb-infused water. ...
  • Sparkling water. ...
  • Coffee (hot or iced) ...
  • Club soda with flavored syrup. ...
  • Spiced apple cider. ...
  • Juice. ...
  • Soda water and herbs.
11 Sept 2019

What happens after a week of no alcohol? ›

Milder withdrawal symptoms include sweating, shakes, headaches, and nausea, and you might have problems eating or sleeping. You may also feel anxious, irritable or agitated. While these symptoms are bothersome and even unpleasant, you'll be able to manage most of them by yourself.

Will I lose weight after quitting alcohol? ›

You can lose weight when you cut alcohol, especially if you tend to binge on a semi-regular basis. Cutting out alcohol means cutting calories, as well as improved overall health and wellness — both leading towards a healthy body weight.

What happens to you emotionally when you stop drinking? ›

Alcohol use overloads the brain with dopamine, while also reducing the brain's dopamine receptors in the process. When you first quit drinking, the lack of dopamine and diminished receptors can lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

What is the fastest way to increase dopamine? ›

Getting enough sleep, exercising, listening to music, meditating, and spending time in the sun can all boost dopamine levels. Overall, a balanced diet and lifestyle can go a long way in increasing your body's natural production of dopamine and helping your brain function at its best.

Can the brain heal itself after alcohol? ›

Our brains have an incredible ability to adapt and repair – even after prolonged AOD use and addiction. The brain continues to build brain cells and neural pathways throughout our life, and its ability to adapt and change – called neuroplasticity – allows it to modify, grow and reorganise itself after addiction.

What can I drink to flush my liver? ›

6 Detox Drinks to Cleanse Your Liver
  1. Coffee. Coffee is good for the liver, especially because it protects against issues such as fatty liver disease. ...
  2. Ginger and lemon drink. ...
  3. Oatmeal drink. ...
  4. Tumeric drink. ...
  5. Green tea. ...
  6. Grapefruit drink.
20 May 2020

What vitamins are good for liver repair? ›

Vitamins that play a crucial role in maintaining liver health include vitamin D, E, C, B. Individuals need to take these vitamins regularly through a healthy diet plan.

What are the 3 signs of a fatty liver? ›

Symptoms
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin's surface.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Red palms.
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
22 Sept 2021

What Happens After 2 weeks of not drinking? ›

After two weeks without drinking, the stomach lining can start to normalize, and acid burn can be reduced. This can cause you to regain your appetite and feel fewer symptoms of nausea and indigestion.

What is worse sweets or alcohol? ›

Lisa Eberly, a dietician, told PopSugar that sweets are actually more addictive than alcohol, adding that a glass of wine has fewer calories and sugar than the average dessert: “First, a glass of wine, though it has calories and sugar, has less calories and sugar on average than a standard dessert…

Will quitting alcohol lower cholesterol? ›

Cutting down on alcohol can help you to lower your cholesterol levels. It can improve your heart health and help prevent heart disease in other ways too, by helping to look after your liver, your blood pressure, your weight and your waist line.

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