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What Happens When You Quit Drinking Alcohol?

There may be nothing tougher to fight than the silent enemy of addiction. As you try to find a path to recovery so you can quit drinking alcohol, you may feel like you are going down dead-end roads. The cycles of alcohol withdrawal and detox is a serious biological event.

It has nothing to do with how much you want to be free of your addiction. Nor does it matter how often you drink, how much you drink, or where you drink. Another article about learning more about how or why you drink may not help you understand what happens to you when you quit drinking alcohol.

Please keep reading if you want to learn more about what happens during alcohol withdrawal and detoxification. That way, you’ll know what to expect and when the symptoms of withdrawal may happen to you. It’s a wise decision to learn what to expect as you go through alcohol withdrawal and detoxification.

When You Quit Drinking Alcohol

The best way to provide information about what happens when you quit drinking alcohol is to divide it up into stages. The first biological event your body goes through in alcohol withdrawal and detoxification is the level of the neurotransmitter GABA goes up. Alcohol blocks GABA function, so it’s free to provide you with an inebriated state.

When you stop drinking, your brain no longer has to block GABA functions. So, your brain begins to return to its normal state. The second biological event is the level of neurotransmitter glutamate goes down. It may be a slight amount, but it does go down.

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that stimulates brain cells, causing them to be more “excited.” Several other neurotransmitter levels can go up, including dopamine.

Alcohol Withdrawal

While several neurotransmitter levels can go up like what happens with dopamine sometimes, they can also go down slightly. This means some neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin go down, but no one can agree on what that means. Some addiction experts state that excitatory neurotransmitters go up or down to meet and balance out the GABA activity.

The neurotransmitters go up or down because GABA activity is up or down, and they want to balance things out in your brain. There is a plateau stage of alcohol you reach in the withdrawal process. It’s one of the hardest phases to get through mentally and physically.

You will feel awful during the plateau phase of alcohol withdrawal. The stages start about 2-3 days after you had your last drink.

Withdrawal and Detox

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms start about 10-12 hours after you quit drinking alcohol. However, some people don’t start experiencing alcohol withdrawal and detox symptoms for 48 hours. The symptoms continue to get worse the longer you go without a drink.

A primary symptom of alcohol withdrawal is confused thinking, moodiness, poor memory, disorientation, disorganized thinking, and more. Alcohol is a powerful foe. Alcohol actively prevents your brain from making new neurons to replace the old ones that were lost during your alcohol use. Also, you will start to experience physical symptoms.

Some of the physical symptoms include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

Your mental state will fluctuate between depression and sadness. You might also feel nervous or anxious.  Alcohol depresses your brain’s pleasure pathways too.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

You will notice that alcohol withdrawal creates behavioral symptoms like anger or irritability. Since alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and in most cases, makes you feel better about yourself. You start losing that layer of positive behavioral self-thinking as you go through alcohol withdrawal.

By the time you reach the crash stage of alcohol withdrawal, you’ll feel so bad you want to crawl into a corner. You may want to give up physically, psychologically, and behaviorally. This symptom is due to your brain being starved for alcohol, and it’s letting you know it wants it back.

Alcohol Withdrawal and Brain Chemistry 

You’ll also have headaches and feel so depressed you may want to die. The good news is your GABA brain levels are returning to normal, and such your symptoms lessen in intensity. You may still suffer from nausea, but that’s not directly linked to withdrawal.

Rather it’s because your brain’s chemistry is trying to figure out what’s going on. The recovery stage of alcohol withdrawal is where your brain is returning to normal GABA and glutamate levels. Without the alcohol to suppress them, your brain feels better, and you feel better.

Alcohol Withdrawal and Spiritual Experience 

There are people who report they have an epiphany or spiritual experience when going through alcohol withdrawal. More than likely, this was due to the brain secreting more dopamine when you’re sick. Your brain secretes more dopamine when you are sick so you can start to feel better.

It’s the sickness that stimulates your brain to make more dopamine. That’s also when your brain wants alcohol so that it can make dopamine. Your experiences during this time can be turbulent or euphoric because of high levels of dopamine.

Your Next Step in Alcohol Withdrawal and Detoxification

There is a place you can that understands how difficult it can be for you to reach out for help when you want to quit drinking alcohol. Cenikor has compassionate advisors that help you from the first step to the last one. Cenikor is there for you if you have questions and will answer your treatment concerns.

More than anything, Cenikor helps you turn the page on your old life. They can help you find the path towards a healthy future. Cenikor treats your whole person when you go through withdrawal and detoxification.

You want and need a program that helps you find the recovery tools you can use to fight alcohol addiction for the rest of your life. Cenikor optimizes your resilience while providing the compassionate treatment you deserve. Contact us today so your future has unlimited opportunities.

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