What happens when you quit drinking? The health benefits of dropping ‘the bottle’

  • Rose Kennedy
  • For the AJC
Updated Sept 06, 2017

If you've ever wondered what would happen if you quit drinking alcohol, you may be intrigued by a recent study on the effects of leaving “the bottle” behind.

The staff of science magazine New Scientist ran a small experiment - giving up all liquor for a month - and teamed up with Rajiv Jalan at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School (UCLMS) to investigate the results.

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Reduced liver fat, lower cholesterol and weight loss were just a few of the benefits they enjoyed:

The only negative −participants reported less social contact.

The experiment gives didn’t give any indication of how long the improvements persist. 

“Whether it’s 15 days or six months, we don’t know,” Jalan told New Scientist. 

“What you have is a pretty average group of British people who would not consider themselves heavy drinkers, yet stopping drinking for a month alters liver fat, cholesterol and blood sugar, and helps them lose weight,” Moore told the health publication. “If someone had a health product that did all that in one month, they would be raking it in.”

More anecdotal advice about what happens when you quit drinking comes from Kevin Donahue, the senior managing editor of Men's Health.

Donahue abstained ("mostly") from alcohol for a month in 2014. Though he's more likely to write pieces like "The Best Beer to Pair With Bacon," he concluded the episode with an article titled, "Why You Should Give Up Drinking for 30 Days."
He noted that he got much better sleep when he didn't drink. "Alcohol, even a comparatively small amount, messes with my sleep. It tends to wake me in the early morning (between 2 and 4 a.m.) and I don't sleep deeply again till just before dawn. It doesn't seem like much of a disruption, but once I was aware of it, I could feel it in the morning."

He also concluded that not drinking kept him sharp later at night and brought him closer to his wife, who joined him in the experiment on weeknights. 

For those wanting to experiment with 30 days of not drinking themselves, Donahue offers the following advice:

Lastly, Donahue notes that if you're trying to give up alcohol, even for a short period of time, simply believe you can do it.