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What To Expect During Your First Week Sober

Alcohol addiction can affect anybody, regardless of race, gender, age, or religion. It is a chronic and relapsing disease that can affect your whole life, including your physical health and mental health.

At its core, alcohol addiction refers to the lack of control over your alcohol consumption, as well as physical dependence. If you find yourself unable to control when you start drinking, when you stop drinking, or how much you drink, then it’s important that you seek treatment as soon as possible.

At Help4Addiciton, we can find the right rehab treatment for you that can help you beat your alcohol addiction. Whether it be private rehab, NHS rehab, residential rehab, or outpatient rehab, we can find the perfect solution for you.

Many people believe that sobriety gets easier with time, but what should you expect during your first week of sobriety? Will you start to feel better after just one week? That’s what we’re going to explore on this page.

Read on to learn more about the effects of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction, as well as our top tips on how to make it through your first week of sobriety. We’ll also let you know what to expect at the beginning of your sobriety journey.

The Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Before we delve into our tips on how to make it through your first week sober, let’s discuss the repercussions of drinking heavily. If you don’t monitor your alcohol intake and you drink in excess on a regular basis, you may begin to develop a physical dependence.

Alcohol addiction can affect all areas of your life, including your relationships. Alcoholism can impact families and have a negative effect on children.

Alcoholism in parents can lead to children being unable to take themselves seriously, finding it hard to build relationships, and ultimately finding it hard for them to accept themselves.

Alcohol abuse can also impact your finances. You may prioritise alcohol over important duties such as work, which can impact your wages and finances.

You may also neglect other responsibilities, which can affect your relationships. Check out this pageif you think your partner has an alcohol problem.

You may also be at an increased risk of alcohol-related legal issues, whether it be acts of violence or drink-driving. Alcohol also impacts your physical health in numerous ways – read on to learn more.

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Physical Health Issues

Alcohol can affect your physical health in the short and long term. One of the main short-term physical effects of alcohol you should look out for is alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning should be treated as a medical emergency, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an alcohol overdose.

Alcohol affects your CNS (central nervous system), changing how it works. Alcohol poisoning occurs when your blood alcohol levels are exceptionally high, which ultimately impacts certain areas of your brain that control life-supporting functions such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature.

Some signs of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, cold skin, slow breathing, pale skin, confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

Heavy drinking can also increase the risk of developing different types of cancer. For example, alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, liver cancer, head and neck cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Frequent alcohol abuse can also increase the risk of heart disease, liver disease (and ultimately liver failure), high blood pressure, strokes, and digestive issues.

Alcohol can also affect your brain, causing the neurons in your brain to shrink. This can affect your ability to remember things and think clearly, impacting your everyday life.

Over time, alcohol can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s – also known as alcohol-related brain damage/ ARBD.

Mental Health Issues

Although some people believe that alcohol addiction is a mental illness in itself, it has been linked to a wide range of mental health issues.

People with a history of alcohol problems that are in contact with mental health services appear to be at an increased risk of suicide.

According to statistics from the UK Government, between 2007 and 2017, there were close to 6,000 cases of suicide in mental health patients with a history of alcohol misuse. This is equivalent to around 10% of all deaths by suicide in England.

People with mental health conditions may be more prone to addiction. For example, people with bipolar disorder may be more likely to exhibit addictive behaviours including alcohol addiction.

It is thought that alcohol use and bipolar disorder impact the same chemicals in the brain, which can lead to the symptoms of one condition triggering symptoms of the other.

Likewise, with bipolar disorder, there is a direct link between manic episodes and depressive episodes and alcohol, even when only small amounts of alcohol have been consumed.

Alcohol can impact your mental health in many ways, with a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder being linked to AUD. There are even links between eating disorders such as anorexia and alcoholism.

Tips To Make It Through Your First Week Sober

The recovery process can be difficult, especially during your first sober week. That’s why we are bringing you some top tips to guide you through your first week of sobriety. From keeping busy to attending rehab, read on for some of the best tips to stay sober during early sobriety.

Keep Busy

Your first week without alcohol will likely be much more difficult if you’re bored. Boredom is considered a relapse trigger – when you’re bored, you may be tempted to turn to alcohol. This is why it’s so important to make plans and stay busy when you’re trying to stay sober.

Fill your calendar with exciting plans that will engage your mind. Something as simple as going for walks with friends or visiting the cinema can reduce the risk of relapsing. If you usually drink on the weekends, make plans that don’t involve going to the pub.

Instead, consider a fun activity that you can look forward to. For example, visiting a new city and being a tourist for the day, or leisure activities such as kayaking, swimming, or even ice skating depending on the season. Remember that sobriety isn’t a prison sentence – you can still have fun as a sober person.

Avoid Temptation

Breaking drinking habits is an integral part of sobriety – and this involves breaking the habit of going to the pub, or having friends over to drink alcohol. If you go to the pub every weekend, you may think that you can go to the pub and just not drink alcohol. However, particularly during early sobriety, this isn’t recommended.

Instead, avoiding temptation completely is the best way to spend your first week sober. Going to a bar could easily result in you relapsing.

It can be helpful to spend time with other people in recovery instead of spending time with the people that you would previously drink alcohol with. This can give you strength and encouragement to maintain your sobriety.

Remember Why You Stopped Drinking Alcohol

There are likely many reasons why you decided to quit drinking alcohol – and throughout your sobriety, it’s important that you remember these.

Whether you have them as your phone screensaver, make a note on your laptop home screen, or write them on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, pondering these reasons daily can help you to maintain sobriety.

If you don’t have clear and positive reasons why you stopped drinking alcohol, it can feel difficult to overcome the alcohol cravings.

When you do experience alcohol cravings, you can remind yourself of the positive reasons why you stopped drinking, and remind yourself of the benefits that quitting alcohol will have on your health – and your life in general.

Have A Solid Support System

Having a support system in place is essential if you wish to remain sober, especially during early sobriety.

Your support system can consist of personal relationships such as friends and family members, or it can include medical professionals and addiction specialists. Often, a combination of the two works best.

Try to avoid feeling embarrassed or ashamed for reaching out to others – you are making positive changes, and seeking support can help to ease the immediate recovery period.

If you do not have friends or family members that you feel you could turn to for support, you may consider attending support groups.

There are a variety of support groups specifically for those with alcohol addiction and alcohol addiction problems – for example, Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also contact helplines for support, and access helpful online chat facilities.

Attend Rehab

Getting sober alone at home can be tough, which is why many people choose to spend their first couple of weeks sober in a rehab facility.

You may wish to undergo an alcohol detox at a facility as an inpatient (in the form of residential rehab), and then return to your everyday life but attending rehab sessions as an outpatient.

Your rehab sessions as an outpatient will generally involve a combination of both group therapies and one-to-one sessions.

Detoxification addresses physical dependence on a substance. Detoxing from alcohol in a rehab facility can help you better manage withdrawal symptoms. However, if you wish to detox from alcohol at home, you may be eligible for an at-home detox kit.

Therapy is an integral part of alcohol addiction rehab, and can help you to build healthier coping mechanisms that can ultimately help to manage symptoms and maintain sobriety.

To learn more about the rehab process from start to finish, see ‘Finding The Right Alcohol Addiction Treatment’.

1 Week Sober – What To Expect

It’s no secret that sobriety is a long journey that essentially lasts a lifetime, but what should you expect from the early days of your sobriety journey? Do you start feeling the benefits straight after your last drink, or does it take longer?

Read on to learn more about what to expect during early sobriety – specifically the first week of your sobriety journey.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

If you are dependent on alcohol, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol. They can affect anybody who drinks alcohol in excess, or abuses alcohol on a regular basis. The general rule of thumb is that the more severe the addiction, the more severe withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience.

The alcohol withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person. Depending on the severity of your alcohol dependence, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can occur as soon as a few hours after your last drink – or as long as a few days after quitting alcohol.

In most cases, the most severe symptoms will peak around the third day. That being said, milder symptoms can persist for much longer.

Many people experience a range of mental/ psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. Some physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:

You may also experience behavioural and mental effects during withdrawal – for example, irritability, anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping.

Some people experience delirium tremens, which is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. If you are experiencing severe effects such as hallucinations, seek medical attention immediately.

Alcohol Cravings

You may experience alcohol cravings at any point throughout your recovery journey – however, they may be more prominent during your first week or two of sobriety after quitting alcohol.

When you crave alcohol, it’s important to avoid giving in to the temptation and relapsing. Sometimes, the alcohol cravings will be particularly strong – but try to remember why you decided to stop drinking alcohol in the first place.

Some people also experience brain fog during their first week of sobriety. It may feel harder than usual to concentrate and perform everyday tasks. It may feel as though the alcohol cravings are taking over, but remember that this will pass – it is just a part of the process.

Anxiety and Stronger Emotions

Anxiety is a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal and may be bothersome during early sobriety. Some symptoms of anxiety can include:

You may also feel anxious that you’re going to relapse. This is why therapy in rehab is so important. Attend your therapy sessions regularly, and discuss your concerns with the mental health professional.

During the withdrawal stage, you may also experience intense moods and mood swings. This can be unsettling, but it will pass as your body and mind adjust to your newfound sobriety.

Improved Sleep

Shortly after you stop drinking, you may have difficulty sleeping. Trouble sleeping can lead to you having less energy, ultimately impacting your mood.

However, when you near the end of your first week sober, you’ll likely notice that you are having a better sleep at night. You may also notice that you have more energy.

Improved Well-being

Once you begin to overcome the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and adjust to a sober life, you may begin to feel more optimistic, and happier in general. After six or more days of sobriety, you are technically ‘over the hump’ – and your recovery truly begins.

At the end of your first sober week, you could be sleeping better, have more energy, and overcome the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s important that you stay alcohol-free, and keep up the sobriety. Rehab treatment can be helpful in maintaining sobriety, whether it be on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Finding The Right Alcohol Addiction Treatment

If you want to stop drinking for good, you’re in the right place. At Help4Addiction, we can find the right alcohol rehab for you. During our initial consultation, we’ll discuss your story, why you’re quitting drinking, and what you expect to get from rehab.

We’ll discuss the treatment process with you and take into account your requirements and preferences to find the best place for you to get sober.

Some people prefer to undergo private residential rehab. This is ideal for more severe addictions and generally involves medical supervision.

If you opt for residential treatment, you will reside in a rehab facility throughout your rehab term, with meals and accommodation provided as part of the cost.

Others prefer outpatient rehabilitation. Outpatient rehab can be as effective as residential treatment and allows you to go about your day-to-day life while receiving the treatment you need. An outpatient rehab is a good option if you’re an NHS patient.

Alcohol rehab can vary from clinic to clinic. However, many addiction treatment plans follow a similar structure – detoxification, addiction therapy, and secondary treatment. Read on to learn more about these core stages of rehab.

Alcohol Detox

The first step to take when you’re quitting drinking is alcohol detoxification. During alcohol detox, you’ll have no access to the substance in order to free your body from physical dependence.

This is the stage where you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms – with the severity of such symptoms varying depending on the severity of your addiction.

You may be offered a medical detox, which involves detox medication to ease the withdrawal process. Some detoxes will involve medical supervision too, which is essential if you’re experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

The length of time it can take to successfully detox from alcohol can vary from person to person. Factors such as your height, weight, and addiction history can impact how long it will take you to overcome the more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Addiction Therapy

Once you have completed alcohol detoxification, you may progress onto the next stage of addiction treatment; therapy.

One size does not fit all when it comes to addiction therapy – and different clinics will offer different therapies based on your needs. Most rehab centres will offer a combination of group therapy and one-to-one therapy.

Group therapies can help you learn valuable coping mechanisms, and during group therapy, you can integrate with other people in a similar situation to yourself.

You may also wish to attend family therapy, which can ultimately help to bring families together that have been affected by addiction.

One-to-one therapy can include a range of:

The aim of therapy is to not only help those with existing mental health disorders or dual-diagnosis – it is an integral part of addiction treatment.

It can help to build your confidence and teach you effective coping mechanisms that you can implement. During therapy, you may also learn the root causes of your addiction, as well as any addiction triggers.

Secondary Treatment

Your treatment doesn’t have to end once you leave rehab. You may feel nervous about returning to life after leaving rehab, but secondary treatment aims at providing you with ongoing support throughout your recovery.

Secondary treatment, also known as aftercare, can take many forms. After leaving rehab, you’ll have access to plenty of support. For example, you’ll have access to helplines, online chats, support groups, ongoing therapy and counselling, and many more.

A support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous allows you to connect with other people in recovery and can be a safe space to share your story and request advice.

Some people also choose to visit recovery cafes. Recovery can be lonely, so recovery cafes provide a safe and alcohol-free environment for recovering alcoholics to relax and socialise without breaking their sobriety.

At Help4Addiction, we can find the right rehab clinic for you. We not only help those with alcohol addiction but can help you if you have a prescription drug addiction, illicit drug addiction (e.g cocaine addiction or heroin addiction), as well as nicotine addiction.

Contact us today to discuss your treatment options and begin the initial consultation. Remember, you are not alone with your addiction.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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