One Month Alcohol Free: The Benefits
When you are one month alcohol free, it is natural that you look at some of the people who have a few years or even decades of sobriety and want what they have. People with this much time in recovery usually have successful lives. They have worked on both their inner and outer environments, and are reaping the rewards.
But you don’t need to get that much time up to get the benefits from stopping drinking. The perks of living without alcohol start adding up as soon as you put down that first drink. Here are a few of the gifts you can expect when you are one month alcohol free.
The body at one month alcohol free
Alcohol wreaks havoc on your body. After you stop drinking, your body gets some respite and starts to heal itself.
Digestion - one month alcohol free
Drinking messes up digestion, which plays an important role in our health. This is made worse by the unhealthy diet that often goes with drinking.
With a poor functioning gut, you cannot process the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to survive. Drinking can also cause “leaky gut”, meaning there are holes in your intestines. When this happens, bacteria and toxins can leak through the intestinal wall, causing body-wide inflammation.
After a month without booze, your gut begins to heal. Your body can more easily use the food that we eat to repair, and holes in our intestines start to heal, reducing inflammation.
If you want to speed up how quick your digestion improves, try eating a simple diet with plenty of vegetables, not much sugar, healthy oils and perhaps the odd probiotic drink.
Liver - one month alcohol free
Alcohol is a poison, and the liver is where poisons are taken care of in the body. This means that it takes much of the damage when you are drinking. The liver also helps digest food, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, fights infection and disease and balances hormones.
If you drink large amounts for a long time you can end up with liver cancer or Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ARLD), which affects all of the functions of the liver.
These conditions can be debilitating, and affect not just your physical health, but your mental health, too.
The good news is that the liver is a particularly hardy organ, and can usually regenerate fairly well. This means that normally once you have been sober for a month, your liver has a chance to recuperate, and starts to function as it should.
Cardiovascular system - one month alcohol free
The cardiovascular system is also affected by alcohol. When you drink, alcohol can cause a temporary raise in heart rate and blood pressure. Drinking excessively for a long time may also cause an on-going heart rate increase, high blood pressure, weak heart and irregular heartbeat.
In the UK, heart disease is the number one cause of death in men, and the number two cause of death in women. This statistic alone should help you to appreciate the importance of keeping a healthy cardiovascular system.
After a month without drinking, your heart rate and blood pressure start to decrease and the heart strengths and starts beating more regularly. If you want to speed up how quickly this happens, make sure that you exercise often, and keep stress levels down.
Nervous system - one month alcohol free
Alcohol numbs the nervous system, which is one of the reason why alcohol relaxes you when you drink it. When you stop drinking, your nervous system is very sensitive, meaning that you will probably be pretty anxious when you first get sober.
When you have been sober for a month, your nervous system will have stopped firing off so much, and some of this anxiety will have reduced. Your nervous system will continue to adjust back to normal in the following months.
Immune system - one month alcohol free
Booze suppresses your body’s immune system. When you drink, your body gets worn down, and you start picking up every cold that is going around. When you are one month alcohol free, your immune system will find it much easier to fight off intruders, meaning you will be ill less of the time.
Appearance - one month alcohol free
Alcohol not only makes you feel bad, it also makes you look bad. As the health of your body gets better, so does your appearance.
At one month alcohol free, your skin will start to look more hydrated, your eyes will regain a glow and bags under your eyes will lessen. You may also start to notice a little less body fat and a little more muscle, as you are not taking in any high-calorie alcohol and your hormones return to normal.
The mind at one month alcohol free
Alcohol use seriously damages the brain. Dementia, deficits in learning and memory and mental disorders are just a few of the injuries that alcohol can cause to the brain.
Persistant drinking in large amounts can cause Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, also known as “wet brain”. This illness is caused by a deficiency in thiamine due to alcohol use. Wet brain starts with something called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which causes mental confusion, paralysis of the eyes and problems with muscle coordination. This then progresses to Korsakoff’s psychosis, a chronic condition that involves forgetfulness and difficulty with coordination.
About 25% of people with wet brain recover when they get sober, 50% see a reduction in their symptoms, and 25% experience no change in their symptoms.
For most people, the brain will start repairing as soon as they put down the alcohol, and they will likely be able to think better in the first month. During this time, neurotransmitters will begin functioning as they are supposed to. You will notice that you are able to think more clearly and are able to express yourself better. You might also find that your memory improves and that you are able to remember things easier than when you were drinking alcohol.
It is important to remember that the full benefits from sobriety may only be felt after many months of sobriety. If you are still not feeling great 30 days in, hang on in there, as you should feel an improvement after each month!
Emotions at one month alcohol free
Alcohol numbs our emotions. People drink to not feel emotional pain, to boost self-esteem and to forget.
When you first get sober, you begin to “thaw out”, and your emotions may feel all over the place. One moment you feel great, the next you feel angry or sad. Often, it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to you feeling this way.
Strong emotions can make us want to drink and the first month is when you will feel this the most. This is why it is so important to be around people who understand what you are going through, and who you can vent with. This reduces the chance of relapse, and helps you to feel better in recovery.
After 30 days has passed, your emotions will start to level out a little, though you probably still have a way to go before you are off the emotional roller-coaster. Feeling emotionally sober doesn’t just need time, it also needs action. Here are some of the actions that you can take to speed up the process:
Alcoholics Anonymous is a world-wide fellowship of people who meet to solve their problems related to alcoholism. Going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps in a few different ways.
- Hear people share. Listening to what people with many years of sobriety have to say about their experience of tackling alcoholism can help you gain emotional sobriety. People share their tips about how to navigate life, and often this involves their advice on how to deal with difficult emotions.
- Share how you feel. Talking about the challenges in your life and how you feel about them can help to cause a positive shift. What you share at one month alcohol-free might even benefit the person who is trying to get a couple of days sober.
- Doing the steps. Going through the steps with a sponsor can help you to see yourself and your place in the world a little more clearly, which might help with the emotional issues that you have.
Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only group you can join to help with your alcohol problem. Groups like SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery and Women for Sobriety can all assist you in getting and staying sober.
When you were drinking, you develop ways of thinking that may be unhelpful when you get sober. You can look at these thought processes in therapy. Addressing them may place a key part in changing how you feel.
Working with a mental health professional can help you to dig into difficult experiences, helping you to gain peace and clarity.
Being able to sit with emotions is a powerful tool that can help us to change our relationship with these emotions. Often when we meditate, we find that emotions that we felt were stuck with us disappear. If we keep meditating, we may find that it is much easier to experience emotions without trying to run away from them or change how we feel. We may even start feeling less unpleasant emotions and more positive ones.
This sound healing modality uses the power of sound waves to alter how we feel. Sound healing sessions involve participants lying down in the middle of a room, with the practitioner sitting in the middle playing a special sound healing instrument, such as the Tibetan bowls. Sessions typically last for an hour.
You can experience benefits from sound healing regardless of whether you are one-month alcohol-free, or twenty years alcohol-free.
Walking in nature
Being in nature can help shift difficult emotions when you are in early recovery. If you live in the city, you could go for a walk in the park, or perhaps even plan a trip to the countryside.
Continually pouring poison into our bodies is obviously not very loving. We continue this cycle with all the other things we do to ourselves when we are drinking. Often, we beat ourselves up because of what we did in the drinking days.
So when we are one-month alcohol-free, our self-love is pretty low. One of your priorities should be to increase it every day. You can try:
- Positive affirmations. Try having a morning routine where you say affirmations to yourself in the mirror. You could say “you are worthy” or “you are wanted”, but feel free to say anything that is apt. This might make you cringe to start with, but stick with it and you will notice the benefit.
- Let go of perfectionism. People with an Alcohol Use Disorder tend to be perfectionists. You may hold yourself to a very high standard, and feel like anything above this standard is not good enough. This can have you trapped in a cycle of constantly beating yourself up. Understand that we all make mistakes, and this is fine.
- Create healthy boundaries. Being around toxic people negatively affects how we feel about ourselves. If you are one-month alcohol-free, it is time to get rid of old friends and find new ones who are more conducive to recovery. If you are someone who tends to put others first, you should aim to put yourself first more.
- Look after yourself. Perhaps the easiest way of practising self-love is by treating yourself well. You could try not working so much, eating healthier food, or treating yourself to a massage once in a while. All of these indicate to you that you love yourself.
Sobriety can be a journey with others
For most people, the first stage of recovery is the most difficult. You should be proud that you are one-month alcohol-free, and appreciate that each day you are sober, your body, mind and emotions are all getting healthier.
Follow the tips in this guide, and you get healthier, faster!
Joining mutual aid groups should not be underestimated. When the going gets rough you will have an abundance of support and experience, wherever and whenever you need it.
- Leading cause of death in the UK 2011-1028 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/articles/leadingcausesofdeathuk/2001to2018#uk-leading-causes-of-death-for-all-ages
- Giving up alcohol for just 1 month has lasting benefits - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324079
- 6 Incredible Effects Of Giving Up Alcohol for One Month - https://www.eatthis.com/side-effects-giving-up-alcohol-for-one-month/
- This is what dry January is doing to your body - https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19546096/dry-january/