If you’re considering taking a break from drinking or if you’re trying to quit drinking entirely, you may be surprised to learn what will happen to your brain when you say “no” to alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, overuse and misuse of alcohol refers to heavy drinking or binge drinking. Binge drinking is when you drink five or more drinks in the same timeframe if you’re a man and four or more drinks if you’re a woman.
Heavy drinking is when a man drinks more than four drinks at any given day and has more than 14 drinks every week. For women, those who drink heavily have more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks every week.
How Does Heavy Drinking Affect Our Brain?
Unfortunately, heavy drinking affects the brain negatively by decreasing its volume. It also makes the white matter vulnerable. Some studies note that some of the damage inflicted on the brain from drinking may be reversed if one stops drinking.
Alcohol abuse has a long list of negative effects on the brain. It reduces emotional regulation, promotes brain fog and memory loss, disrupts the signaling of dopamine in the brain, etc.
Quitting alcohol is challenging and not an easy process at all, but it’s worth it. The brain’s plasticity allows it to create new and healthy connections over time.
With the right support and professional help, you can finally say “no” to alcohol and say “yes” to the multitude of benefits of going alcohol-free.
What Happens If You Refrain from Alcohol for 2 Months?
Here’s an approximate timeline of what you can expect if you decide to give up alcohol:
This is the hardest day, but it’s a vital milestone. After 24 hours without alcohol, the body begins a detox process and you may already start feeling the effects of withdrawal.
These effects are short-term and they subside within several days. If you have several years of dependency on alcohol, these symptoms may be more serious and you may need medical help.
After three days, you’ll feel more like yourself. But, if you have been drinking heavily for a long period, you may still feel the lingering effects of the withdrawal.
Some people report feeling hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens during an alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens is a severe and life-threatening condition. If you experience symptoms associated with it, seek medical help.
After a week of being alcohol-free, the risk of seizures reduces and so does the risk of heart disease. Your liver will start the self-repairing process.
At this point, most people feel much better. Most of the physical side effects from the withdrawal usually subside. Your anxiety should start reducing and you’ll feel more joyful and positive.
Your brain will also start fixing some of the shrinking and damage that may have occurred from the alcohol abuse. In one study, it was found that six weeks of alcohol abstinence caused a brain volume increase by an average of 2 percent.
Without alcohol for six months, you will finally start reaping some amazing benefits. The risk of cancer will drop and your liver function will improve significantly.
You may also experience better physical health, an increase in energy, and healthier and good-looking skin.
A year without alcohol will reduce your risk of different types of diseases. Your bone density will also increase.
It Is Worth It
Giving up alcohol is a worthy decision. Abstaining from alcohol for only two months causes some valuable changes in the function and structure of the brain. When you’ve been sober for two months, your memory, focus, and concentration will become better.
So, imagine what happens to the brain when you stop drinking for a year. Abstaining from alcohol helps enhance the neural connectivity of the brain, resulting in new neural paths and better cognition.
Your inflammation levels will decline and you’ll experience better mental and physical health.