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Mood Changes After Giving Up Alcohol – What to Expect

Many of us turn to alcohol to help us cope with the pressures of daily life. It often helps ease anxiety; it makes us feel more social and sometimes boosts our overall mood.

However, there is an underlying factor to consider when it comes to using alcohol to improve our mood – in the long run, alcohol negatively impacts our mood as it impacts and sometimes permanently changes the way the brain works.

mood changes when quitting alcohol

Mood Changes When Quitting Alcohol

When you stop drinking, you may experience better, more consistent moods. However, you may have to jump a few emotional hurdles before you get to that point.

Although alcohol makes us feel better temporarily, it negatively affects the neurotransmitters in our brains at the same time.

Neurotransmitters are often called the body’s chemical messengers. They are molecules that the nervous system uses to send messages between neurons and from neurons to muscles.

In other words, neurotransmitters help our brain and body communicate with one another and ensure they function optimally as well.

When neurotransmitters are damaged, various physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms may arise.

These changes may become notably worse when we stop drinking as the body enters a state of withdrawal.

However, it’s important to note that the type and severity of symptoms experienced after we quit drinking depends largely on the amount of alcohol we consume, amongst other things.

Mild to Moderate Alcohol Consumption

This is usually classified as one to three drinks per week. When a mild to moderate drinker decides to stop drinking, the neurotransmitters in the brain will begin working to restore balance.

As a result, changes in mood and sleep patterns are likely to be experienced. However, this is likely a temporary situation. Once the brain has come back into balance, and neurotransmitters are working as they should, your mood will improve along with your memory, focus and alertness

Heavy Alcohol Consumption

This is usually classified as three or more drinks per day. In these cases, when alcohol is abruptly stopped, intense withdrawal symptoms may follow which can include erratic fluctuations in mood, agitation, insomnia and feelings of depression and anxiety.

Withdrawal symptoms are the result of the neurotransmitters working hard to bring balance back into the brain. With heavy drinkers, the imbalance is extreme, which means the symptoms are more severe.

What to Expect When You Stop Drinking

Because alcohol is most often used to make us forget about the things that are bothering us, when we stop drinking, we are forced to deal with these things in a sober state of mind.

Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to permanent changes in the brain, known as neuroadaptations which ultimately lead to addiction. With this comes an increased inclination towards impulsive behaviour such as violence, aggression, and risk-taking behaviour.

Because of this, navigating emotions after quitting is even harder, and often professional support becomes necessary to avoid relapse.

Step Away – Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa

With the right treatment protocols and facilities in place, Step Away is able to offer exceptional in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation programmes for alcohol addiction.

We treat addiction recovery with a comprehensive approach and ensure that all our clients’ physical, emotional, and psychological needs are met.

Contact us to find out more about our programmes.

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