alcohol effects after dry january

This is what happens to your body when you first drink alcohol after Dry January

1. You rot in bed all weekend with a hangover

Dry January is official over and those of you who managed to go a whole month without wetting the whistle should be proud of yourselves. January gets a bad rep for being a bleak month but the Dry January challenge is a really good opportunity to challenge yourself right from the off. More and more people are ditching the booze and going sober, opting for alcohol free options when out socialising. Some of us are now gagging for our first drink since Christmas, but if you managed to complete Dr January, what’s stopping you from going the whole hog and going sober?

After a whole month of consuming no alcohol, your body may react differently to the substance when you get back to the pub – and I’m not just saying you’ll have become a lightweight. We spoke to an expert about exactly what happens to your body once you drink for the first time after a month.

1. The body’s tolerance to alcohol is a lot lower

alcohol effects after dry january

Taking a month of abstinence may actually decrease the body’s tolerance to alcohol. Addiction specialist Nicholas Conn from Rehubs explained that effects of alcohol may be felt “more quickly and intensely” when consumption resumes.

 2. Your hangover could be a lot worse

alcohol effects after dry january

So not only will you actually notice the effects of alcohol quicker, but it’s possible that your first hangover after doing Dry January will be worse than hangovers had in periods of  frequent drinking. This is because the liver enzymes responsible for metabolising alcohol may have decreased in number or become less active during the dry period.

“As a result, the body might process alcohol more slowly, leading to a longer duration of intoxication and potentially more pronounced hangover symptoms,” says Nicholas Conn.

3. You might blackout

The neurological impact of alcohol may impact you differently, as alcohol affects neurotransmitters in the brain, such as GABA and glutamate, which are involved in “sedation, relaxation, and inhibition”. Nicholas explains that the brain’s response to these neurotransmitters may be heightened after a period of abstinence, leading to “increased sensitivity to the sedative effects of alcohol.”

4. You might have a different relationship with alcohol

Not only will Dry January affect your body, but it will also affect your mind. This might be because of changed routine or perhaps a different attitude towards drinking after a break.

“There can be an increased awareness of the effects of alcohol on the body and mind. For some, this might result in more mindful drinking habits, while for others, the sudden reintroduction of alcohol might lead to overconsumption as the individual might not accurately judge their lowered tolerance,” Nicholas says.

5. Sleep patterns will likely be disturbed

A month of no alcohol might have equalled a month of more restful sleep for many. So with the possibility that effects of alcohol become more pronounced after a break, Nicholas explains that some people may experience “potential disturbances in sleep and changes in mood or anxiety levels, especially if the individual had been using alcohol as a coping mechanism”.

6. Indigestion, nausea and discomfort may occur

alcohol effects after dry january

Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and affect the production of stomach acid so after completing Dry January, these effects might lead to increased discomfort, such as nausea or indigestion, when drinking resumes.

7. You might suffer from a weakened immune system

Nicholas explains that regular consumption of alcohol can weaken the immune system. He says that after a break, the body may be in a phase of recovery and that reintroducing alcohol might “temporarily hinder this recovery process”.

Whilst these are all possible outcomes after drinking for the first time after completing Dry January, Nicholas adds that it’s important to note that these effects can vary widely among individuals based on factors like the amount of alcohol consumed, individual health status, and personal tolerance levels. He adds: “After a period of abstinence, it’s advisable to reintroduce alcohol gradually and in moderation, paying close attention to the body’s responses.”

For more like this explainer on alcohol effects after Dry January, like The Tab on Facebook. 

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