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What Happens to the Brain When You Stop Drinking

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When a person makes the decision to stop drinking, it can be a very free choice. This is someone who has likely relied on alcohol to get through each day, causing potential problems in their professional and personal lives. It may seem silly, but this process can seriously damage vital organs like the brain. Banyan’s Chicago Addiction Treatment Center explains.

alcohol withdrawal symptoms

People who struggle with drinking may show signs of addiction, such as being unable to quit despite the obvious negative effects, but many are aware that quitting too quickly can hurt them. Alcohol withdrawal can be a beast that affects not only the brain but the rest of the body as well.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • faster heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • profuse sweating
  • forgetfulness

The latter symptom, alcohol brain fog, is common in people whose bodies suddenly forced them to quit drinking. In other words, individuals are more likely to experience sluggishness and lack of concentration as the brain attempts to chemically readjust to the deficiency of the substance it has become dependent on. is the risk of serious health complications such as seizures.

seizure risk is real

When someone asks what happens to the brain when you stop drinking, perhaps the most worrying answer is that you may have a seizure. It can occur at any time during the first week of abstinence.

There are several factors that can contribute to the intensity of withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.

  • the time the person drank heavily
  • Other co-morbidities
  • an individual’s overall health
  • how old is that person

These seizures occur due to inhibition of NMDA neuroreceptors in the brain. Receptors are responsible for transferring and processing information from other neurotransmitters.1 If someone suddenly stops drinking alcohol, these effects are reversed and the brain becomes hyperexcitable. Sexuality is what leads to the problem attack, called alcohol withdrawal delirium or delirium tremens (DT).

DT is probably one of the worst side effects of alcohol withdrawal and usually begins about 3-5 days after stopping alcohol. Symptoms include severe confusion, hallucinations, irregular heartbeats, coma, and even death. Due to the risks associated with alcohol withdrawal, trying to quit on your own is not recommended. Instead, we recommend attending a nearby alcohol detox center in Gilman, Illinois.

Get Effective Illinois Addiction Treatment at Banyan

After completing a detox at Gilman, patients are returned to a Chicago rehab facility where they can access a life-changing alcoholism treatment program. From here they can be placed in one of our levels of care and receive the attention that best suits their needs. Whether you need flexibility or not, we have the resources for you.

Call us to learn more about the treatments and programs available to deal with alcoholism. Banyan Treatment Center Chicago and 888-280-4763 today.


  1. NCBI- An update on the neurobiology of alcohol withdrawal seizures

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