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Side Effects of Giving Up Alcohol, According to Physicians

‘Sober curious’? Here’s what to expect.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

If you're considering cutting down on alcohol or giving it up completely, it's helpful to know what to expect—especially if you've been drinking regularly for a long time. "Being sober curious is a new variation on an old theme," says chemical dependency counselor Rudy Kump. "Decades ago, brewers created nonalcoholic beers to cater to people who sought a healthier lifestyle. The idea of cutting out alcohol in the name of good health is having a resurgence." Here are five side effects of giving up alcohol, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Better Sleep

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One of the positive side effects of not drinking is better sleep, as even a small amount of alcohol can disrupt sleep quality. "While it's true that alcohol is a sedative, both having it in your system as well as the process of it wearing off can cause a variety of different problems," says neurologist and sleep expert Jessica Vensel Rundo, MD. "You're likely to experience fragmented sleep, insomnia or possibly more serious sleep issues."

2

Weight Loss

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Calories in alcohol are considered "empty" calories, so you will be taking in less calories just by not drinking—alcohol has seven calories per gram, compared to four calories in protein/carbs and nine calories in a gram of fat. "Drinking presses 'pause' on your metabolism, shoves away the other calories, and says, 'Break me down first!' says Dr. Pamela Peeke. "Research has uncovered that alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly. That's why you never hear about 'beer hips' — you hear about a 'beer belly.'"

3

No More Hangovers!

This might seem obvious but not experiencing hangovers is a tremendous bonus to not drinking. "The nausea, headaches, or tiredness you may have felt the morning after drinking could be replaced with improved mood as well as feelings of productivity," says DrinkAware UK

4

Blood Pressure Goes Down

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Improved blood pressure is a common side effect of giving up alcohol, especially for people who were heavy drinkers. "Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure," says the American Heart Association. "If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Limiting alcohol consumption can also help to prevent high blood pressure."

5

The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

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Long-term or heavy drinkers should always talk to their healthcare provider before giving up alcohol, as the withdrawals can be very dangerous. "Withdrawal-associated seizures are generalized tonic-clonic convulsions that usually occur within 12 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink but reportedly sometimes occur after as few as two hours of abstinence," say  Robert S Hoffman, MD, and Gerald L Weinhouse, MD. "The seizures occur predominantly in patients with a long history of chronic alcoholism, as evidenced by their typical onset during the fourth and fifth decades of life." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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