What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Alcohol: A Timeline

Dara Laine Murray
6 min readSep 5, 2022

Quitting drinking is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. I could write a novel on why this is, but today, I want to focus on the health benefits of sobriety. Giving up alcohol is a wildly underrated health hack that trumps even the most expensive, pure superfood powders and supplements on the market.

When we choose to forgo alcohol, not only are we refraining from poisoning our precious vessels, but we’re able to make better choices, be more mindful, and follow through more consistently. These actions further support a healthy, happy body and mind.

As someone who’s almost three years sober, I find it incredibly interesting, motivating, and empowering to understand what beneficial changes are occurring in my body as I walk the path of sobriety.

To spread some of that empowerment to those who are sober curious, newly sober, or seeking a dose of motivation on their journey, I thought it’d be helpful to share the health benefits of the first year of sobriety, broken down into bite-sized chunks.

Use these benefits as inspiration to make the leap to an alcohol-free lifestyle or as a reminder to thank yourself for the beautiful gifts of health you’re creating through sobriety.

Health Benefits of Sobriety timeline

1 Week Sober

Subtle physiological changes start occurring within just 72 to 96 hours of abstaining from alcohol. The first big one most people notice is sounder, more restful slumber due to increased REM sleep — a deep sleep stage where dreaming and memory occur.

Not all sleep is created equal. Alcohol might help you fall asleep faster (or, you know, pass out) because it’s a depressant, but it’s been shown to hinder this all-important REM stage of sleep.[*]

2 Weeks Sober

Around two weeks sober, many people notice improvements in their skin. Alcohol is a diuretic (i.e. it makes you pee more). This flushes water from the body and can lead to dehydration.

Dehydration negatively affects all systems, but it’s really apparent in the skin, especially the face. When skin cells are dehydrated, the face looks dull, dry, and tired. With alcohol no longer wringing your cells of moisture, the reflection in the mirror…

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Dara Laine Murray

Multi-passionate sobriety writer on Medium. Day job: Director of Research at a nonprofit. Stories = sober + stats. Editor: https://medium.com/modern-sobriety