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What Happens To Your Brain When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

By | JR Thorpe |

Going sober for a while, whether it’s a month, a season, or permanently, can seem intimidating, but the head-to-toe benefits, people say, are worth it. How exactly does quitting drinking impact your body? Sobriety affects the brain in several ways, including rearranging your neurotransmitter levels, rewiring different brain regions, and even possibly repairing your memory.

“When we stop drinking, our brains begin to heal on a neurochemical level,” Dr. Donald Sansom, D.O., associate medical director at substance abuse treatment center Sierra Tucson, tells Bustle.

Neurotransmitters, which transmit information around your brain, change pretty quickly when you stop drinking. Alcohol particularly affects gama-amino butyric acid (GABA), which inhibits brain activity, and glutamate, which stimulates it. When you drink, Sansom explains, glutamate is less able to stimulate the brain, and GABA is better at inhibiting it. This is why alcohol makes you relaxed and happy, and lowers your inhibitions: It slows some of your brain’s signaling. When you stop drinking, these changes reverse themselves. “In most individuals, these receptors begin to reset themselves to a baseline level,” Sansom says.

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