Amazing things that happen to your body when you quit drinking. Picture: iStock
Amazing things that happen to your body when you quit drinking. Picture: iStock

What happens to you when you quit drinking

WAKING up after having way too many drinks the night before is never a pleasant experience.

Your head is pounding, your mouth is dry and just the thought of alcohol is enough to make you vomit.

These are the obvious side effects that alcohol can have on our bodies, but there are other impacts that consistent drinking has on your health that you don't even realise until you stop.

And while these impacts may be less noticeable than a hangover, when they are gone you'll be amazed at how different you feel.

Next month thousands of Aussies will be participating in the Dry July challenge where people stop drinking alcohol for the whole month in a bid to raise money for cancer.

Since 2008 when the campaign was started, more than 130,000 Australians have been inspired to abstain from alcohol and $30 million has been raised for numerous cancer support organisations.


While participating allows people to raise money for those in need, it also has numerous health benefits for those taking part.

Just one month off drinking allows many people to realise that issues they may have been having, like tiredness, weight gain, insomnia and lack of concentration may have been a result of their alcohol consumption.

Dietitian Chloe McLeod said that one of the first things people notice is how much more hydrated they feel.

"Alcohol is a diuretic which means your body will secrete and lose more water, so when you start to reduce your intake your hydration levels will naturally increase," she said.

"One of the most visible signs of this is in your face, with smoothed out fine lines and lips feeling less dry."

Another thing people notice is that they are able to concentrate more and have increased focus at work or on other daily tasks.

As alcohol is very high in calories many people also experience weight loss.

On average men cut out 433 calories and woman cut out 300 calories per day from reduced drinking.

What happens to your body when you stop drinking. Picture: Dry July
What happens to your body when you stop drinking. Picture: Dry July

"Many people start to notice their waistline starts to shrink and potentially even drop a dress size by the end of the month, pending of course how much alcohol was being consumed [previously]," Ms McLeod said.

And its not just physical changes people see when they cut out drinking. Improved mental health and feeling in an overall better mood are also common outcomes.

This is because alcohol is a depressant and can often exacerbate mental health issues, putting people in a more negative state of mind than they would otherwise normally be.

Even someone who classifies themselves as a "moderate" drinker is likely experiencing the long-term negative affects of alcohol without even realising it.

Ms McLeod said that everyone has a different perception of what a "moderate" drinker is, but a common definition is someone who "has one or two alcoholic drinks most days of the week".

"Many of these people wouldn't consider the dehydrating effect of alcohol which in turn can cause feeling tired, low energy and eating extra food," she said.

"The added calories in alcohol can result in weight gain as well as the increased risks of heart disease and high blood pressure and other health impacts over time."

Finding yummy, non alcoholic drinks can reduce the anxiety of not drinking in a social situation.
Finding yummy, non alcoholic drinks can reduce the anxiety of not drinking in a social situation.

From a health perspective, there is no real downside to going cold turkey on alcohol for the month, but it is advisable for heavy drinkers to get in touch with their GP before signing up.

Ms McLeod said for most people the negative impacts are largely social.

"Social situations can become more stressful as the alcohol they would have once used to relax, socialise and give them confidence is no longer there," she said.

"Australia has a widely acknowledged drinking culture that is a huge part of our social fabric, so as soon as you say 'no I won't have any' that makes other people feel quite uncomfortable."

This can result in the person feeling pressured to drink and can be a tricky situation to navigate.


  • Make yourself accountable. The more people you tell, the more accountable you will be to stick it out, but if you don't feel comfortable telling everyone even telling one good friend can help.
  • Choose some delicious non-alcoholic alternatives. If you are worried about feeling pressured to drink, having a non-alcoholic drink to sip on can take the edge off the social pressure and stigma of not drinking.
  • Keep the cause in mind. Most people will do Dry July for a reason so keep thinking about the reasons you chose to participate.

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