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What Are the Initial Side Effects of Quitting Alcohol?

By: David Vetter - Updated: 10 Sep 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Alcohol Addiction Quitting Stopping Side

Q.

I am 34 years old and i have been drinking since I was aged 12 - more heavily for the last 10 years.

My resolution this year is to quit. My question is what are the effects of having no alcohol in the first few days and weeks?

(E C, 30 January 2009)

A.

There are a whole range of side-effects that you might potentially experience whilst giving up alcohol - some positive, and some negative. Happily, the positive effects usually outweigh the negative ones!

The first thing to say is that if your addiction is extremely severe, or if you have had a bad experience of quitting in the past, then you should seek the advice of your GP or family doctor before stopping drinking altogether.

However, if you feel capable of stopping by yourself, the most difficult period tends to be the first three days following quitting.

Before stopping, inform your friends and family about what you intend to do. Their support can be vital, as they can help you to stick to your plan. But remember, not everyone will necessarily give you the encouragement you need. Some friends might even try to tempt you back into drinking. Be ready for this, and think about ways that you can deal with situations where alcohol might be present.

Within the first three alcohol-free days, many people report feeling anxious and tense, as well as experiencing nausea, and in some cases vomiting. Note that these symptoms are often associated with hangovers! Therefore it can be a good idea to try to give up on the weekend, when you do not have work the next day.

In addition to the typical “hangover-like” symptoms, involuntary shaking or tremors in the body, particularly the hands, can sometimes occur. During the first three days, you might also experience flu-like symptoms, such as fevers and headaches. Don't worry, these shouldn't last as long as actual flu!

It is also common to experience sleep problems after quitting. This is because alcohol tends to have an adverse effect on sleep, and your body is simply trying to readjust. Don't panic: give it time, and you will find that your alcohol-free body will be getting a far more peaceful and satisfying sleep within a week or two.

Whatever the symptoms you experience, we recommend drinking plenty of fluids, preferably fruit juices, as your body will be looking to replace the sugar content that alcohol used to provide it with. Additionally, as alcohol dehydrates your body, it will be necessary to drink plenty of juice or tea to restore your fluid levels.

Good luck, and remember that as unpleasant as the sensation of quitting might be, the rewards will more than make up for it!

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