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What to Expect in Early Sobriety

Thinking about getting sober? Maybe you’re experiencing relationship troubles, failing health, trouble at work, or legal problems like DUIs due to drinking. Or maybe you’re just sick of hangovers.

Whatever your motivations, we have answers about what you can expect in the first few days, weeks, and months living clean from booze.




The First Days:

  • Anxiety

  • Joy

  • Restlessness

  • Insomnia

  • Hope

  • Confusion

  • Clamminess, sweating

  • Strong cravings to drink

Find a Support Network

It’s not uncommon to experience all these feelings at the same time in the first days of sobriety. That is why it is so helpful to have a support network during this time. Maybe it’s a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, or maybe it’s the staff at the Pat Moore Foundation, but lean on those who have experience with this challenging time.

You physical reaction really depends on the role alcohol plays in your life.

You may need detox

If you drink every day, if you drink in the mornings, if you need to drink to still the shaking in your hands and to function, then you need a medical detox. It can be life-threatening to stop cold-turkey if your body is physically dependent on alcohol.


The First Weeks:

  • Anxiety

  • Euphoria (aka the “Pink Cloud”)

  • Shame and guilt about past drunken behavior

  • A mix of hope and fear about the future

  • Insomnia and restlessness

  • Anger

  • Strong cravings to drink

The first weeks clean from alcohol are a challenging time.

Early Sobriety’s Affect on your Mind

Your body is often recovered from the clammy shakiness, but now the mind is having its own whiplash from the loss of liquor. It can feel like a rollercoaster. Everything will be wonderful, full of joy and hope, and then things are worse than you could have ever imagined…All in the span of an afternoon.

There are so many emotions and memories surfacing that have been tamped down by alcohol. A lot of people drink to avoid feeling emotions or remembering painful events.

Lean on your Support Network

The good news is, you don’t have to figure it all out. That support network you have already begun building will carry you through the confusion. It’s completely normal to feel erratic during this time. Don’t worry, IT WILL PASS. Your job is to keep not drinking, one day at a time. Things WILL get better.


The First Months

  • Confidence

  • Hope

  • Integrity

  • Sense of being responsible

  • Euphoria

  • Fear

  • Anxiety

  • Stress

Physical and Mental Improvements

The first months of sobriety are hard, but they also serve to show you that you can live sober. By this time your sleeping has probably evened out a bit and you are seeing an improvement in your physical and mental health. You are probably less triggered by little things that make you crave a drink.

Stay on Guard

So this is also the time to be on guard! Many people become falsely confident in this time and assume they have all the tough stuff handled. Maybe the wife isn’t so angry anymore, maybe the boss isn’t breathing down your neck, maybe you’ve sorted out the legal troubles, or maybe you’ve just forgotten how insanely miserable you are after waking up from a night of drinking and bad choices.

Whatever the reason, the first few months are an awesome time to dig into your local support network and make sure you keep changing your life for the better.


You don’t have to do it alone! 

If living free from alcohol is something you are considering, just know that you never have to do it alone. There are many people, more hopeless than you, who have let go of the bottle and now live full, happy, joyous, and free lives. You can too! Reach out to the Pat Moore Foundation, or your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter and start walking the road to recovery.

Image: Flickr