Dry January: 5 Ways Your Body Changes When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

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Whether you’re looking for a stepping stone on the way to sobriety or want to give your body and mind a break from drinking, Dry January is an excellent choice for anyone’s health. This month-long abstinence from alcohol has many positive benefits, making it a popular choice—in 2022, 35% of adult drinkers decided to try out Dry January. Many people are using mocktails as a replacement, or else turning to non-alcoholic beers and wines. With so many people turning to this trend every New Year, it’s no wonder its popularity has increased over the past few years.

Here are five changes you’ll see in your body when you take a break from drinks during this month.

1. Your Skin Looks Brighter

Have you ever noticed how tired you look after a long night of drinking? Well, it’s not just because of the hangover you’re likely experiencing. It’s also because of the effect that alcohol has on your body, including your skin. The more you drink, the more dehydrated your skin gets, causing it to appear dry and porous. Alcohol also deprives your skin of necessary nutrients which can lead waxiness, rashes, and make you more susceptible to sun damage. These side-effects can have a lasting impact, lead to more wrinkles, and speed up your skin’s aging process.

Fortunately, your skin can bounce back from the effects of alcohol. By giving your body a month-long break from drinking, you’re allowing your skin to rehydrate and regenerate. 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.

2. You Lose Weight

Maybe you think twice about ordering dessert, but have you ever stopped to think about how many calories are in a cocktail? Alcohol is not only filled with lots of sugar and empty calories, but it can also slow down your metabolism, contributing to weight gain. You’re also more likely to eat junk food when you’ve been drinking. According to a study by Purdue University, this is because the consumption of alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat, which is why you crave pizza and not a green smoothie after you leave the bar.

When you give up alcohol, you will significantly cut down on how many calories you consume. And because your energy levels will increase, you will likely be more active than when you were drinking, helping you shed even more weight.

3. You Feel More Rested

You may feel sleepy after a glass of wine and assume that alcohol helps you sleep better, but in reality, alcohol interferes with your ability to get a good night’s rest. This is because alcohol affects your body’s biological clock, called the Circadian clock, which regulates when you fall asleep and wake up. If you’re a binge drinker, you could also be at risk of developing insomnia. But even if you can fall asleep after a night out, alcohol can keep you from getting any REM sleep—the most restorative type of sleep.

If you’re used to drinking before bed, falling asleep without alcohol might be a bit challenging at first. Alcohol decreases the body’s natural amount of melatonin, so if you find yourself tossing and turning, consider finding supplements for yourself. Even if it takes you a bit longer to fall asleep than usual, the quality of your sleep will improve, leaving you to feel rested and refreshed the next morning.

4. You Fight Off Sickness

Participating in Dry January could help keep you out of the doctor’s office. That’s because consuming alcohol can weaken your ability to fight off infections for up to 24 hours. And if you drink regularly, alcohol will not only prevent nutrients from feeding your immune system but also reduce the white blood cell count in your body, making it more difficult for you to fight off diseases. When you stop drinking, your immune system improves and is once again able to protect you against the common cold, the flu, and all the other sicknesses in the air this January.

5. You Have Fewer Headaches

Alcohol and headaches often go hand in hand—one-third of migraine patients report alcohol as a trigger for their pain. All the dehydration from alcohol consumption affects blood flow and pressure to the brain, causing headaches. And if you suffer from migraines, alcohol can often trigger an excruciating headache. But when you stop drinking, you eliminate all those alcohol-related pains. And because you are likely to be eating better and sleeping more, you might also reduce the number of stress-related headaches you experience.

From weight loss to better skin—there are countless reasons to go a month without alcohol. And once you’ve taken an honest look at your drinking habits and what life without alcohol looks like, you may decide that quitting alcohol for good may be the best move for you. So, why not join the challenge and participate in Dry January this year?


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
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