One thing that many people seeking recovery from alcohol addiction or in early recovery, often ask is how long does it take to heal their mind and body from alcohol. The short answer? Anywhere from a few days to several months. The effects of chronic alcohol consumption is cumulative and can have lasting effects on your heart and blood pressure, liver function, gut, and digestive tract, and brain and nervous system. However, with proper medical care and nourishing your body with a well-balanced diet, lots of water, and healthy exercise, you can help speed the healing process.
However, anyone who wishes to quit drinking alcohol, especially people that have been chronic or binge drinkers, should seek medical attention first, to safely detox. Cold turkey withdrawal from alcohol can be deadly, so it’s important to ensure that you have medical supervision to mitigate any side effects.
The First Week
Once you stop drinking, it can take about 24-48 hours for your blood alcohol content to drop to zero, During this time, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms (the hangover), including nausea, headache, shakiness, mood swings, exhaustion, and elevated heart rate. These symptoms should subside within a couple of days, although some people may have queasiness and shakiness for a few days afterward. You may notice that you sweat profusely when sleeping, too, which is part of the body ridding itself of the alcohol.
Your brain cells will begin to regenerate themselves after about three days alcohol-free. Symptoms during this time can include anxiety and nausea. Anxiety for those newly sober is common because alcohol acts on the receptors in the brain that manage anxiety and depression. Without the sedative effects of alcohol on these receptors, anxiety can be overwhelming for some people. Safe treatment and support can help ease these feelings and help people feel that they are not alone.
After about a week, withdrawal symptoms should subside. If you note any serious health effects, or if your symptoms are severe, especially shaking, hallucinations, or seizures, seek immediate medical attention. You may notice that you have fuzzy thinking, or “brain fog,” which typically goes away after the first week.
The Next Few Months
After the first week, your body will slowly regain its normal function. Your digestive system will balance out, and you may notice that your bowel movements become regular, and that periods of nausea are fewer. Your ability to have a good night’s sleep will improve, and your skin and eyes will look brighter and healthier.
The neurons in your brain will begin to regenerate themselves after about three weeks and continue to develop or redevelop. The severity of anxiety and depression should subside, although many newly sober people may find that they have an underlying mental health condition that can be treated with appropriate medication and therapy. The “white matter” in your brain will increase in volume after about the first month alcohol-free, although it may take several months for you to have full clarity. Your liver typically takes the longest to recover after going sober. While some people with a fatty liver may see the organ regain health, it may not completely heal. Having your liver enzymes regularly tested can help.
Ready To Stop Drinking?
We can help. The compassionate team at America’s Rehab Campuses offers medically supervised detox and personalized programs for all those seeking sobriety. Contact us today – don’t wait!