Table of Contents
Written by Amethyst Recovery
Amethyst Recovery is a foremost authority on addiction and a trusted online source of substance abuse information. Their expert team of addiction professionals provide well researched content for people in the grip of addiction. All posts are fact checked and sourced.
Alcohol recovery body changes are one of the key stumbling blocks on the path to sobriety.
Non-alcoholics often wonder why recovery is so difficult. And coming from individuals who haven’t gone through this process, one can understand their need to think it is simpler than it really is.
Unfortunately, recovery is not that simple. And with alcohol recovery body changes are bound to make the process even tougher.
Not only does a recovering addict face some hard choices, but getting their bodies back into a healthy state requires a lot of determination.
In this article, more details about the recovery process are going to be discussed.
From the bodily changes to the emotional ones, the road is definitely not easy.
But as time progresses, it gets easier and the benefits of making the change become clearer. An alcohol recovery inpatient treatment center can help you navigate these difficulties in a safe and compassionate atmosphere.
Alcohol Recovery and Anxiety/Depression
One of the typical alcohol recovery body changes is anxiety/and or depression.
Dual diagnosis programs are great for these individuals.
And while they are not always directly visible from the outside, the person handling the recovery is completely aware of these feelings.
According to clinical studies, there is a correlation between the two, even during stages before recovery started.
More specifically, it is very possible that a recovering addict experienced depression at some point in their lives.
The feelings of anxiety are also very natural, given that the body is detoxing, and it takes about two weeks to get all the alcohol out of the system.
Addiction, in general, is a result of mental instability, of which depression and anxiety form big parts.
This also explains why someone who is recovering from alcohol will most likely experience episodes of both, especially during the early stages.
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- 10 Day Alcohol Detox–Do I Really Need to Go?
- Adult Children of Alcoholics
- Alcohol Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Help & Resources
- Alcohol Counselor and Counseling Services
- Alcohol Detox & Withdrawal: Symptoms & Treatment
- Alcohol Detox Services: Overview, Types, Methods & Medications
- Alcohol Questionnaires for Detoxing and Recovery
- Alcohol Recovery Stages: Days, Weeks, Months, Years
- Alcohol Residential Treatment
- Alcohol Treatment Programs: Types, Effectiveness, Medications & Resources
- Alcohol Withdrawal Effects: Delirium Tremens, Hallucinations and More
- Alcoholism on Health: Dementia, Neuropathy, Hepatitis Cirrhosis & More
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
- Guide to Alcohol Counselors and Counseling Services
- How Does Alcoholic Drinking Compare to Other Types of Drinking?
- How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System: Urine, Blood & Breath?
- Medications for Alcoholics
- Picking the Right Alcohol Program
- The Best Alcohol Rehab Guide: Inpatient, Outpatient, PHP & Cost
- Timeline: Brain, Body & Emotional Changes During Alcohol Recovery
- What Are the Signs of an Alcoholic Family Member or Loved One?
- What Should You Do If You See Signs of Alcoholic Behaviors in the Workplace?
Fatigue, Brain Fog, Irritability, Headaches
Moving on to more physical changes, issues like fatigue and irritability can easily become an incredibly challenging roadblock.
Add to these headaches, brain fog, the inability to think straight, and the reason why so many people relapse makes a lot more sense.
A good way to explain it would be to compare the brain to a spring.
Once a person starts using alcohol or drugs, there is a reduction in neurotransmitter production, which puts pressure on the spring and force it down.
When a person stops drinking, the weight is lifted and production levels suddenly rise, causing all the issues mentioned above.
Of course, different drugs are going to bring about different issues, and alcohol is considered the most intense.
However, these are temporary side-effects, and after a while, they subside.
Weight Loss & Weight Gain During Recovery
It’s important to understand that the brain gets rewired when addiction takes over.
As mentioned earlier, neurotransmitters are neutralized at the “pleasure center” part of the brain.
This means every time an alcoholic takes a drink, the pleasure center gets flooded with dopamine, resulting in a feeling of being rewarded.
When the brain is suddenly deprived of its reward, common logic gets overpowered and impulsive decisions are typically made.
During recovery, people are quick to jump to food in order to replace this feeling of reward.
This is mainly because snacks are cheap, readily available, and they act quickly.
It has been estimated that about 65% of people going through recovery gain weight, while about 20% go on to become obese.
Obviously, developing an eating disorder is not a healthy part of recovery, and it needs to be maintained from the start.
In other words, the recovering addict needs to realize mindful eating is necessary if they want to steer the road towards recovery without jeopardizing their health.
Trouble Sleeping: Insomnia Night Sweats & Nightmares
In many cases, people use substances to help them fall asleep. And without realizing it, they become addicted to them. After continued use, it’s only natural that some level of addiction is going to kick in.
And once again, recovering from alcohol is one of the most intense experiences compared to other drugs.
There is an estimation that individuals who become addicted to alcohol are 5 to 10 times more likely to suffer from some type of sleeping disorder.
These disorders include, but are not limited to, insomnia, nightmares, night sweats, and even bed-wetting. It is also interesting to note that even people who didn’t have sleeping disorders before they started drinking are very likely to develop them after they get addicted.
Chances are the recovery process will intensify the experience, whatever it may be, but it will pass with time and the right approach.
Keep in mind that healthy sleep patterns are crucial for any person wanting a high-quality life.
And even though it will be difficult to deal with, addressing the problem head-on is a necessity. Because the less you sleep, the weaker your mind becomes.
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Alcohol Recovery And Erectile Dysfunction
Alcohol recovery body changes can possibly involve problems regarding sexual performance.
However, it’s not just limited to men and their ability to get an erection.
Alcohol addiction can also influence the sexual performance and experience for women.
The thing about alcohol is that it sends mixed signals.
For example, in high doses, alcohol damages the liver, and the liver is responsible for regulating hormones.
The consequences of drinking too much usually entail an imbalance with sexual hormones.
This explains why people feel sexually aroused and more willing while intoxicated, but are unable to actually perform sexually. Unfortunately, it’s not just the damage to the liver that can cause erectile dysfunction.
During recovery, the individual will most likely be stressed and frustrated – two things that also cause problems where sexual performance is concerned.
On top of this, the heavy influence on the pleasure center of the brain changes the way sex is perceived.
However, it is not a lost cause and there are several ways to fight the effects of erectile dysfunction, especially during recovery.
The Good Alcohol Recovery Body Changes That Happen
After reading about all the alcohol recovery body changes that are going to make the process so difficult, it is only right to mention the good things that are bound to come from it. In order to really get an objective perspective on why every addict should think about recovery, consider the following:
- The body will regain its ability to absorb nutrients and minerals like it should
- The metabolic system of the recovering addict will pick up again and begin to function at a healthier rate
- Recovery will see the person gain higher levels of energy and more stamina
- The risk of cancer decreases while stress levels will eventually even out
- Risks of suffering a stroke or heart attack are reduced dramatically, in addition to seeing lower levels regarding blood pressure
- The immune system will be able to react with more speed and efficiency
- In some cases, there is a reversal of the damage done to the liver, which can bring back the hormone imbalance associated with erectile dysfunction.
The Average Recovery Timeline
Another harsh reality a recovering addict needs to face is that recovery is a life-long commitment. In other words, the desire to fall back into bad habits will never go away completely.
But they do get easier to handle and control with every passing day the individual stays clean.
Regardless of the changes that are waiting, living a healthy and happy life without alcohol is more than just a little possible.
But is there a time frame that captures the most intense experiences, like the early recovery stages?
The First Two Weeks
As mentioned earlier, it takes about two weeks for the body to fully detox during alcohol recovery. During this time several intense alcohol recovery body changes can be expected. They include:
- A lack of energy
- Feelings of depression and anxiety
- Insomnia, nightmares, night sweats
- A significant decrease regarding sexual desire
Given that everyone is different, some individuals might experience alcohol recovery body changes symptoms for longer periods. In fact, for those that continue to suffer from them for up to a year should consult with a recovery professional or treatment center as soon as possible.
After The First Month
On average, the recovering addict should start to feel better overall. Liver function will already be improving at this stage, meaning better hormone regulation and more optimistic thoughts start to surface.
After The First Year
If the individual sticks to a healthy diet during the recovery, it only takes one year to lose about 13 pounds of unnecessary fat. As for the liver, it should be in top condition like it was before the addiction started, and the risks of developing several types of cancer are reduced substantially.
Keep in mind that all this information isn’t meant to scare people out of trying to get their lives on the right track. Instead, this information should serve as a stepping stone. Because the more information a person has about what they are facing, the better they can prepare for it.
For example, looking into local rehabs, support groups, medical detox professionals will always be a good start. But the first step is to actively decide to commit completely.
And instead of expecting the road ahead to be easy, anticipate that a lot of effort goes into staying clean. It’s just a matter of weathering the initial storm.
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