The impact your first month in recovery has on mind & body

The impact your first month in recovery has on mind & body

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What happens to your body when you stop drinking?  

The first 72 hours after you decide to stop drinking can be the most critical by far as this is the period which can be the most painful part of the recovery process. 

Your body is flushing out all the alcohol and you can experience moments of acute withdrawal however you will soon feel the rewards of taking the decision to quit very soon. 

First 72 hours benefits  

Although you may feel quite apprehensive the feeling of self-empowerment can begin to outweigh that initial apprehension because making that conscious choice to stop will be the catalyst for your new recovery journey.  

That takes courage and will prove to you that you are stronger than you know! Hold on to that thought! 

The difficulties you may encounter 

Withdrawal can be scary and difficult for many people. In fact, serious withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. That is why it is advisable when planning to stop drinking that you gain advice from your GP or local drug and alcohol services regarding safe detoxing methods. 

Mild withdrawal symptoms commonly occur in those who are not physically dependent on alcohol but have a psychological condition. These will commonly include two of the following: 

  • Tremors 
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Headache 
  • an increased heart rate 
  • Sweating 
  • Irritability 
  • Confusion 
  • Insomnia 
  • Nightmares 
  • high blood pressure 

The symptoms may worsen over 2 to 3 days, and some milder symptoms may persist for weeks in some people. They may be more noticeable when you wake up with less alcohol in your blood. 

The beginning of symptoms is evidence that your body is beginning the healing process. 

The most severe type of withdrawal syndrome is known as delirium tremens (DT). Its signs and symptoms include: 

  • extreme confusion 
  • extreme agitation 
  • a fever 
  • Seizures 
  • tactile hallucinations, such as having a sense of itching, burning, or numbness that isn’t actually occurring 
  • auditory hallucinations, or hearing sounds that don’t exist 
  • visual hallucinations, or seeing images that don’t exist 
  • excessive sweating 
  • increased heart rate 
  • high blood pressure 
  • fast respirations 

If you have severe AWS symptoms, it’s a medical emergency. Call for help or go to the emergency room. A high fever, hallucinations, and heart disturbances are all reasons to seek immediate help. 

Summary of the first 72 hours 

This is the first important step in your recovery process and so it is important that you detox safely and if needed undergo a medical detox under supervision. While this time can be empowering it is also a difficult first hurdle for many people to overcome. 

It is important that you reach out and utilize all help and assistance that is available to you which will offer a greater chance of long-term recovery. 

Two weeks after quitting 

The most infamous period of the recovery journey is by far the withdrawal stage but full withdrawal can actually take up to two weeks! 

As your body is working extremely hard to have a clear out the psychological battle can increase but please also be aware that although you may be encountering new obstacles you will also encounter positive factors as well. 

Two week milestone benefits 

Your body will be starting to feel much better and the psychological aspect of this will be so empowering that your outlook and belief in yourself will greatly improve. 

You will start to look into all areas of your life where improvements can be made, relationships will begin to feel enhanced and you will be learning new coping mechanisms while building new, healthier and happier habits. 

These will form the foundations for your future pathways and that is why we encourage you to engage in your life and get proactive! 

You will know in your heart the benefits you are receiving from taking up this journey, but it is so important that you stay consistent in forming new healthier habits as this is the time you are cementing any positive reinforcement to maintain your sobriety. 

The difficulties you may experience during the first two weeks 

You will experience many empowering moments during this time but be prepared as you will also experience emotional lows as well. 

Although they will not seem as urgent as the symptoms during the first 72 hours they can have a huge impact on your mindset which you are currently developing. 

Common symptoms are: 

  • Anxiety & depression 
  • Decreased energy & metabolism 
  • Feelings of aggression or hostility 
  • Declined sexual interest or function 
  • Sleep disruption & nightmares 

These symptoms can last anything from a couple of weeks to a year depending on how severe your alcoholism was before your recovery was initiate.  

This is known as PAWS Post-acute withdrawal symptoms 

The most difficult factor for many people however during this time will be the cravings that will come and go.  

Yes, all the alcohol has left your system but your mind s missing the balance of chemicals that it has been used to and the best way of dealing with these cravings is maintaining an awareness of what triggers them with a knowledge that they will pass and we can surf them out. 

Over time and with consistency this will become easier, always remember we can choose what thoughts we pay attention to! 

Summary for the first two weeks 

This is such an important time for you to begin getting proactive and engaging with your life and your recovery process by bringing new behavior patterns in that will form the foundations for those lovely new happy habits that we talk about so much. 

These new behavior patterns will help you to develop new coping mechanisms stopping you from turning back to old negative behaviors. 

You're breaking the cycle during this time! 

You will also be increasing your awareness and understanding the root of your addictive behavior.  

One month after quitting 

Although you may still be feeling some of the unpleasant side effects of quitting drinking your body will be healing nicely and you will begin to notice a huge difference which is fantastic for your motivation and drive to keep going. 

Studies have shown that Liver fat decreased an average of 15%, with some participants losing up to 20%.. 

Accumulation of fat in the liver is a precursor to liver damage — creating inflammation that can lead to liver disease. 

A reduction this large means that an almost immediate benefit of quitting drinking can help your liver slim down, dramatically reducing your chances of developing cirrhosis or other chronic liver conditions. 

This is really encouraging news but there is more! 

Blood glucose levels dropped an average of 16%. 

This is incredibly significant among the benefits of the quitting alcohol timeline since high levels of glucose circulating in the bloodstream are a sign of heightened blood sugar and can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Once those levels get under control, the risk is reduced. 

The body is really getting back on track but wait there is more... 

Total blood cholesterol decreased by nearly 5%. 

Heart disease, one of the leading causes of death, can be predicted in part by examining patients’ cholesterol levels. 

While an average decrease of 5% in blood cholesterol might not seem like much, it’s quite significant when achieved as a result of cutting out alcohol. 

Other benefits include: 

  • Better skin 
  • Better sleep 
  • Clear eyes 
  • No more bloating 
  • Improved moods 
  • Higher energy levels. 

The road ahead 

Long term sobriety can have such a huge positive impact on your life and your families lives in so many ways.  

But it is so important that you do not become complacent. 

Your brain has taking one heck of a beating when you deprive it from alcohol after such long-term usage. 

It is working hard to rebalance itself and this can create symptoms of moodiness, depression and anxiety etc. 

This is why we work on our mindset through practices such as: 

  • Mindfulness 
  • Gratitude 
  • Patience 
  • Acceptance 
  • Forgiveness 
  • Perseverance 
  • Self-compassion 

Among other things with self-awareness as our central focal point. 

Staying linked in with recovery peers, therapists, sponsors and coaches will help you while also bringing in new behaviours to improve your physical health and wellbeing also. 

In doing so you will form the foundations for long term recovery and significant positive changes within your life. 

 

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