When I finally quit smoking, I needed a LOT of help. I used a nicotine patch for the physical cravings, accountability partners and a great app.
It helped me count days and told me all sorts of facts about what was happening inside my body the longer I avoided a cigarette. Things like:
- Less than 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate will already start to drop back towards normal levels.
- After two hours without a cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will have decreased to near normal levels.
You can find this info all over the Internet, in cute little infographics and on timelines. If you’re a smoker in the U.S., it’s likely you’ve seen these more than once.
Fast forward to when I decided to stop drinking. I tried to find a similar app. Nothing really. I went online to find some cute infographics. Again, crickets.
So, as I get closer to finishing my second year without alcohol, I decided to make my own collection of information: a quitting drinking timeline, complete now (updated 2016) with an infographic!This comes with some disclaimers:
- I am not an addictions counselor.
- Quitting drinking if you are a serious consumer of booze can be really dangerous. Seek medical help you need it.
- Some of this information is anecdotal, from my experience with more than 200 sober penpals. Other info I got online. I link to those sites at the bottom.
- This is a work in progress. I will update it as I find more info.
So without further ado, here is what happens to your body after you stop drinking. (Click to enlarge.)
8-12 hours after your last drink:
- Hangovers begin and can last for more than a day
First 6 to 9 days after your last drink:
- Extreme dehydration that can cause headaches and constipation (Drink LOTS of water to combat this)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Higher levels of anxiety and depression (talk to your doc if you’re on meds for this)
- May smell funny
- Extreme fatigue
- You may start having drinking dreams
2 weeks after your last drink:
- Better hydrated skin
- Dandruff, eczema and acne will be on their way out
- Improved sleep: you’ll wake up feeling rested
- Improved digestion
- Improved liver function — without alcohol toxins, your liver can begin strengthening your immune system and help cuts and bruises heal more quickly
3 weeks after your last drink:
- Liver enzymes and iron storage improve
4 weeks after your last drink:
- Moods, anxiety and depression will even out
- Energy levels will return to normal
5 weeks after your last drink:
- Liver fat decreases by 15%
- Cholesterol decreases 5%
- Glucose decreases by 16%
- Weight decreases by 2%
- Sleep increases by 10%
- Wakefulness increases by 9.5%
- Concentration increases by 18%
- Work performance increases by 17%
Or this pretty image with credit here:
60 days after your last drink:
- Distractibility, confusion and irritability have disappeared
6 months after your last drink:
- You’ll remember some of your bad behaviors
- You’ll meet a particular commitment and realize in the past you would’ve screwed it up
- You’ll hear the shadow of your own self saying some harsh thing or throwing a tantrum and you’ll realize you don’t do that anymore
5 years after your last drink:
- Incredible cognitive gains
- Close to a full restoration of normal brain functioning
7 years after your last drink:
- Nearly complete neurological recovery
Do you have some fact to add? I would love to hear it. Leave it in the comments along with the source and I will update.
Wondering if you should quit drinking? Check out my audio class here. In the 20 minute class, I’ll walk you through my simple test to tell you if you should quit drinking for 100 days and tips on how to do it.