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side effects of stopping heaving drinking (serious plz)

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Please serious replies only--I was a HEAVY drinker for about 20 years, most recently, drinking 4-7 nights a week, and that usually meant at least a 12 pack.  Can out guzzle most of the guys, though they wouldn't admit it.  I stopped on 1/2.  Part for weight loss, but for obvious other reasons.  I have had one beer, 2 nights, and just sipped it cuz I do love my beer (ask Miller, I could be one of their girls othr than my gut!).  So I really have all the "excuses" to keep drinking down.  I further have all the "reasons" I stopped down and they are much stronger than my excuses.  But I am wondering about the side effects once you quit drinking.  I sleep much better, but am sooo tired all the time.  Over all, I feel better, but I still have some lack of coordination or memory loss, like "what was I going to do?" things.  Anyone else experience some side effects and do you know when they will go away?

I want to start working out, but right now, I am just so tired after a 9-10 hour work day, I can only think about going home and getting ready for tomorrow.

I will check in from work as I can't post from there.

Any advice, experience, support is greatly appreciated.  Going back to drinking would be so easy, especially if it just had to do with the scale since I would have thought I would have dropped weight real quick giving up all those calories!!  Not so, only 5 lbs since the 2nd.  I figured i averaged, at least 1000 calories 5 nights a week with alcohol, so it should be falling off.  but the other benefits will keep me going.

Thanks in advance for any help.

18 Replies (last)
just guessing here, but give yourself time to become accustomed to the good benefit of stopping.  Also, I'm a believer in lots of water.  That was a lot of liquid, so maybe you are dehydrated now.

also, if you're working that many hours you have a right to feel tired.  Maybe the beer was just masking the tiredness from you.  I'm glad you're sleeping better.

Are you eating healthy, and having a healthy snack mid-moring and mid-afternoon?  I have to be careful of right balance of protein and carbs, to keep my energy up.  But, there's no way I could exercise after putting in 10 hrs at work, but I'm an older female, so maybe thats just me.

How many hours sleep are you getting?  I have to have 7.5 or feel tired.  If I've overly active, 8-9 hrs makes me feel better.

congratulations on the healthy change!!!!!
Congratulations on your steps toward a healthier lifestyle!

One thing that will help you clear out the "brain fog" and get some of your energy back is taking a good multi vitamin. Drinking heavily on a regular basis depleats your body of a lot of necessary vitamins & minerals - B vitamins especially.  A good multi AND a B suppliment would be even better.

Drink plenty of water - good advise no matter what your health goals are :)

Be sure to exercise, but give your body the rest it needs, too. It takes time to heal from the damage drinking does, and resting will help. Taking a Milk Thistle suppliment is said to help cleanse and facilitate healing of the liver. Check with your primary healthcare provider first - especially if you're taking any other medications - but I know it has helped a few people I know.

My Fiance quit drinking liquor altogether and has been tapering off with beer - just a few a day instead of a case a day - for health reasons mostly, and these are some things that have helped him feel more "human".

*pats sheebz on the back for quitting the drink*

Good job!  After so much alcohol use, this is a great accomplishment for you! Way to go!

I agree with the drinking more water thing.  Most people don't drink enough water, regardless of alcohol use (alcohol is dehydrating too, which is why people get hangovers... hangover = severe dehydration).

And a multivitamin is a good insurance policy.  Vitamin B helps your brain deal with stress better so that's a good recommendation too.

As to why you're feeling the way you do, you might have a fatty liver now:

A fatty liver produces no symptoms on its own, so people often learn about their fatty liver when they have medical tests for other reasons. NASH can damage your liver for years or even decades without causing any symptoms. If the disease gets worse, you may experience fatigue, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, weakness and confusion.

The best things you can do now:

  • eat well (avoid processed junk most of the time)
  • exercise moderately
  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid saturated and trans fats and sugar to keep your blood triglycerides lower

You're on your way sheebz!  Keep up the good work!

Not an easy accomplishment you have made, but a great one!! Congratulations to you!

 Remember just to take it one step at a time & dont get discouraged..addiction didnt happen overnight & recovery wont happen overnight either.  One day at a time.


I agree drink lots of water & eat better, sleep when you can, take a multivitamin. It will take time for your body to recover, just let it happen on its own & focus on what you need to do for you, take slow walks to refocus your mind, invest in a game or something you enjoy to keep your mind occupied, they have some hand held video games now that refocus the brain into learning more, maybe use the money you are saving from not drinking to invest in one of those? 


Just stay focused & know we are here if you ever want to talk. The best of luck to you. 


I find that exercise helps with being tired.  I know it's counterintuitive, but getting your blood moving seems to knock out the sluggishness.
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Good for you!

My thoughts are about the same as everyone else's. 

Exercise will give you more energy.  It is strange but true.  When I work out most days I seem to need less sleep.  I think it is because I sleep much more heavily when I am getting exercise regularly.  I have more energy to work out and more energy throughout the day.

Another thing on the sleep issue is that alcohol has a major impact on your sleep patterns.  I know it makes you sleepy, but once you go to bed you don't properly go into the really heavy restorative levels of sleep that you need.  I think that with time this will stablize for you.

In the mean time, try to be good to your body with multivitamins and healthy eating.  I would focus more on adding high nutrient foods rather than limiting calories if I were you.  Have patience with the weight loss.  It will come.

Just as side note, I'd avoid tylenol and generic tylenol for a while.  It is hard on your liver which probably has enough to deal with right now.

Don't forget to be proud of yourself.  It is very difficult to choose to change your life dramatically, but you are worth it!
I quit drinking recently as well and what boggles my mind is why I'm not losing weight. I exercise every day now and I can finally jog a mile. Something that I have neeeeever been able to do. I probably consumed about an extra 1000+ calories a night, 4 times a week on average from heavy drinking and that does not include coming home and pigging out. 
Now that I've completely stopped, you'd think that the weight would come off easy, but it doesnt. I need some tips. Also recently have gone vegetarian and it seems that with all this exercising and lack of meat in my diet I have become ravenous and all I want to do is eat at night. During the day my appetite is fine but then when it comes night, I turn into this savage werewolf and need food, cookies, anything. What's going on here. 
sheebz, congratulations.  you should take time and let your body adjust.  don't worry too much about exercise right now.  your body is used to a certain amount of alcohol.  alcohol dependency occurs on a cellular level, with or without addiction, and you have to give yourself time to make the shift.

i suggest that you focus on nutrition and sleep right now.

i'm also going to recommend a resource:  

i recently did a practicum for my MSW with an addictions services agency.  smart recovery is a harm-reduction resource with a good, solid, research foundation.  it's not based on the disease model and doesn't insist on abstinence.  you'll find tools and resources there that should be very helpful. 

I agree with all the advice here. I know some of it sounds contradictory, exercise gives you more energy and all that, but the only thing I can add is to set realistic goals.

It is so easy to think that after a few weeks of a changed lifestyle youshould see results but that isn't true. If you are doing it correctly and staying away from the booze, not eating too much, eating the right things in small quantities throughout the day, slowly working into walking, getting plenty of rest, drinking water etc... you should see about 1 to 2 pounds per week come off, depending on your metabolism speed.

 That's only 4 or 5 pounds a MONTH! So losing 20 pounds should take 4 months realistically, and that is without any cheating...and we all have cheat days.

Most body builders starting out (my experience) set their goal to have the body they want at 2 to 3 years!!...This stuff is not quick, it is safe, and it is healthy and it is a permanent change in your lifestyle.

Hang in there, keep track of your calories (for motivation and focus) and start slowly exercising.  

Original Post by rara03p:

 Also recently have gone vegetarian and it seems that with all this exercising and lack of meat in my diet I have become ravenous and all I want to do is eat at night. During the day my appetite is fine but then when it comes night, I turn into this savage werewolf and need food, cookies, anything. What's going on here. 

Just a guess. When I went vegetarian, I was also very hungry at night. A vegan friend suggested an extra serving of vegan protein. Protein has an effect on satiety and appetite. Incorporating dark greens (kale, romaine, broccoli) may help as they have more protein than others. You could also try a serving of legumes.

Original Post by pgeorgian:

you should take time and let your body adjust.  don't worry too much about exercise right now.  your body is used to a certain amount of alcohol.  alcohol dependency occurs on a cellular level, with or without addiction, and you have to give yourself time to make the shift.

Very true. Your body is detoxing - at the macro and micro levels. A lot of people report a host of symptoms (which are commonly referred to as the "flu") when they radically change their diets. People with carb/sugar sensitivity report the "carb flu" when they reduce the grams of carbohdyrates in their diet. People on low-fat diets also experience the "flu" when they shift from saturated to unsaturated fats/oils. If you think about it, your body is using the building blocks provided by your food intake, so when you change that, your body needs to adjust to the new stuff and it is sometimes painful and may have, uh, interesting effects on your digestive system.

Congrats on transitioning to a more healthful lifestyle!

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Hi Sheebz

 I have worked in the field of addictions for many, many years. One thing that is being omitted here is the need to go to AA meetings. That is the place where you will learn the most about recovery concepts, relapse prevention and what to expect (sleeping patterns, weight changes, etc.). Who better to learn from than people who have experienced it themselves? Smartrecovery (the website posted in another post) is actually a very bad idea (no offense). I can't believe they teach that at a master's program. I have my Master's and my License in two states and It is well known in the field that abstinence is the only way to go. Not that it is easy and everyone has their own path. Try reading The Big Book. That will probably be the most helpful or seek professional help when you are ready. You need to address the alcohol problem before the weight problem.
I really appreciate everyone's input here, and taking this very seriously.  Like I said, I could make my own excuses to drink, but I don't want excuses to drink.  I work with alcohol/drug abusers myself, and have training believe it or not on counseling.  We just never got to the part of side effects from NOT using.  I honsetly am not having a difficult time not drinking.  I never was one to drink by myself at the house, though I have beer and hard liquor.  It is here now, and I don't have any desire. Only time I really ever drank at home was a hot day, working in the yard, and reward with a bar b que and a wine cooler or beer.  And that might happen once or twice in a summer.  So anyway, my point, I am not finding it difficult to quit drinking.  i was mostly concerned with that being tired feeling after a good night sleep.  i have always drank a lot of water, but now I wake up to use the bathroom more often, uggh!  I alsways have to p...I am sticking to a diet between 9-1400 calories.  900 not so often but happens when I get busy and just not hungry for anything.  I start with toast and juice in morning, may have a fiber one bar, carrots, or soup for snack, fat free tapioca and fat free cottage cheese as snacks.  Switch on chicken breast, cod, turkey brat, or turkey dog.  Lots of veggies, usually a can of some a day or 2-4 servings of frozen a day.  My night snack is sunflower seeds in the shell-this replaces my chip craving.  Sip on water all day long.  So I am going to add the vitamin B's, and will start working out in February.  But on my bad day, I know I will be in here, cuz i bet they are ahead of me.  Thanks everyone

Really 5 pounds is great for two weeks. And it does add up, if a pound is about 3000 (roughly) calories, and you were drinking 1000 per day=7000 per week. That's 14000 divided by 3000=4.67lbs.

As far as exercise goes it will give you more energy...maybe try doing it FIRST thing in the morning, before you are tired out from your day. You will notice more energy and probably a better mood when you start exercising.

 I also agree with everyone else that it will take your body some time to get used to not drinking so much. It's only been two weeks, you can't expect instant results (although wouldn't that be nice)!


Good luck! 

I have recently quick drinking for 21 days now and I have done it before for about the samer period of time but went back to drinking due to the fatigue.  In my case I am on some medications Zoloft, High Blood Pressure Meds, and Lipitor which I think I needed because of my drinking but are now too much for my body to handle.  It has been very hard getting any medical professional to understand this and help with it.  I could be wrong but it just seems like the Zoloft is probably too much for me now that I am not drinking reducing my seratonin levels or my blood pressure is too low now with the meds.  It may not be related to the meds but I certainly had more energy when drinking.

I did read an online article about Anemia which causes your body to not produce enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body.  Alcohol consumption over many years can cause this.  It causes fatigue, confusion (your memory issues), and other symptoms.  I am going to go get my blood checked to see if it is anemic.  When you give blood they test it so you could always go do that.  We may just need to get more iron or other vitamins.  Just thought I would pass that on.  Good luck.  It isn't easy.

When I quit drinking I experienced similar side effects of fatigue and frequent urination (especially at night).  I saw an acupuncturist who prescribed Chinese medicinal herbs along with an acupuncture treatment which took care of my problems immediately.  I went home that very day and jogged 5 miles!  I also was able to sleep through the night without having to get up 3 times to pee.  The symptoms never returned either, as I see my acupuncturist regularly to maintain my health.  Highly recommended!

As you come out of the "fog," you may start actually noticing that you have some deficits (like in your memory, or concentration abilities) while they are getting better. Imagine if you had a numb foot for years, and became used to it. If feeling started to come back to that foot, you'd really start noticing the parts that were still numb.

Go easy on the size of the deficit that you use. Getting as many nutrients as possible into you might be the best thing to do for a while. You could be depleted in any number of micronutrients.

When I quit drinking back in '06 (I was borderline alcoholic) I lost complete interest in food. I found it necessary to set myself a realistic goal. And stick to it. A good multivitamin was also part of my diet.

At first a fairly light exercise will be beneficial, and like any programme build up slowly.

For the first month or two, in my view, don't worry about the weight loss (so long as it's not too rapid) just focus on getting exercise, and establishing good diet and sleep.



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