Saturday, 7 January 2017

Post Alcohol Fatigue

If you quit drinking on New Year's Day, then HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on making it through your first Friday night and into Day 6. You are awesome!

Have you had much in the way of withdrawal symptoms?

Despite the fact that I was drinking around ten bottles of wine a week, when I finally quit my issues were mainly psychological rather than physical.

My readers and fellow bloggers often report headaches, mild 'flu like symptoms and difficulty getting to sleep, but the one physical symptom that seems to unite us all and I bet you're grappling with too is...


Not just feeling a little bit weary, must put my feet up tiredness, but a bone deep sluggishness, a feeling that every cell in your body has switched to 'go slow'.

It's a weariness that mere sleep can't solve, and it's accompanied by an all encompassing feeling of ennui, of what's it all about anyway?

The only time I had felt anything approaching this was in the early stages of pregnancy, when getting through the day is like wading through pea soup.

So, if that's how you're feeling then DON'T PANIC! It's entirely normal and it will shift.

People often talk about 'the threes' when it comes to addiction and breaking habits.

It takes around three days for all the alcohol to leave your body, then three weeks for the worst of the physical effects to pass, and three months (we tend to talk about 100 days) before the worst of the psychological effects start to recede.

By day 21, or thereabouts, you should be feeling a great deal perkier.

In the meantime, indulge yourself. Think about it like a bout of 'flu. Go to bed early. If you can, have an afternoon nap. Drink hot chocolate, wear cashmere socks, have lots of hot baths with bubbles.

Exercise helps, especially in the fresh air, as does taking a vitamin B complex supplement (alcohol strips us of B vitamins which causes fatigue) and a magnesium supplement before bedtime if you're having problems sleeping.

Eat as well as you can and drink fresh juices and smoothies to replace all the nutrients that alcohol has leeched out of your cells.

If the constant tiredness is getting you down, then remember it's your body healing. If you ever have wobbles about why you're doing this, then the way you're feeling now is evidence you're doing the right thing.

You feel like you've been run over by a bus because you've been filling your body with toxins for years and it's going to take it a while to recover.

Before long you'll be sleeping like a baby and be bouncing out of bed in the mornings like the Duracell Bunny, ready to take on the day.

(See my post from Day 24: Sleep, Glorious Sleep)

Just one word of warning though: as your body recalibrates and your dopamine levels adjust to life without booze, these periods of exhaustion do recur from time to time. It's called Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, and you can read more about it here.

Keep on at it - you're doing an amazing thing, and let us know how you are in the comments below.

Love to you all,

SM x


  1. Great post SM. Am sure it's very much needed for lots of people right now. Without reading your blog (and a few others and soberistas website) I would have given up as I was so so tired and headachy for such a long time. Once it clears you feel amazing. And then it comes back. It's hard going but totally normal. I remember reading one of your blogs about crying your eyes out (whilst ironing I think?) as you realised that you really couldn't drink again. That was also a life saver and a huge turning point for me. So, yes it's hard and quite sad at times but is sooooo worth it!!!!

  2. Thanks SM
    I have been reading your blog and I am back on day 6. Each time I attempt 100 days it gets easier as I am much more aware. I am feeling very positive and feel it is going to stick this time! Since I have been off the booze more consistently lately i am thankfully not as tired as the past attempts. I really want that field of bunnies-lol

  3. I was already experiencing fatigue and strange unsettled sleep at night, and then I crumpled. Feel pretty hopeless and sad about it, but am back on Day One and am trying again. Annie x

    1. Dear Annie. Please see your dictor for more help. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, are hard to manage sometimes.

      Drinking only prolongs the pain. I know you know that....professional help in a safe environment might help you get through that.

    2. Dearest Annie - I second Anne. You need more help. You've been trying for too long to do this on your own and you're exhausted with the effort. There is no shame in asking for help! Go back to AA. Call the counsellor. Think about rehab. Mail me. Hugest hugs xxxx

  4. Just what I needed today...I was so very tired Friday after work I could hardly move...was in bed before 8 and slept like a log...knowing that's normal helps a lot...and so happy to be done with my first Friday evening which is my worst trigger time...Thanks so much for all your wise words and humor SM..

  5. Happy New Year, SM!
    I am so happy I quit!

  6. The early days are the hardest then it just keeps getting easier and the sober benefits just keep on coming. Stick at it - totally worth it.

  7. Fatigue is serious in early sobriety. I found a huge attachment to coffee, that continues 3 years later.

    One comment - if it continues and you really feel poorly see your doctor. Many of use use alcohol to cope with depression. Or our drinking masks other health issues like low thyroid, etc.

    So if a few weeks of rest, hydration, treats and bubble baths leaves you's worth checking.

  8. It's so true, nothing prepares you for the tiredness in the the first few weeks!! I let myself eat what I want, drank lots of coffee and hot choc and did no exercise and minimum of anything in the first 10-14 days! Day 49 for me today and I'm so excited for the kids to be going back to school tomorrow and I will be day 50! Normally I would be starting/trying/ attempting and failing a detox tomorrow!

    The energy levels I've got now are amazing, and I've also got a new love(obsession) for coffee too!

    Hang on In there to anyone just starting, being sober is the gift that just keeps on giving ( but I couldn't have done it without this blog)!! Thanks sm! Xxxxxx

  9. I get your blog via email so never comment but just wanted to pop by and say you are an inspiration. Your blog is a great read. I had my final drink on New Years Day and am finally ready to join you sober bloggers once and for all. Xx

    1. Thanks so much 4leafclover and HUGE CONGRATS on taking the plunge! Go girl! Xxx

  10. Great support post. I know you are one that others turn to so posts like these really help the early days process.

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  12. I am so happy for this post! I am so unbelievably tired. I am not a "heavy-drinker", but I have gone through phases of drinking every night, or drinking lots on the weekend etc, so I did not expect to get many withdrawal symptoms from stopping drinking. But I am so tired! I even sleep through my alarm most days! I am hoping it will pass soon. It is day 20 so far. I have quit before for 1-2 months at a time and not been this tired so I don't know why it is different this time.

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  14. I have listened to many audio books on quitting the drink and they were all so helpful but my absolute favourite was The Sober Diaries. I have now subscribed to your blog and and slowly reading my way through them. I’ve also just started a blog of my own - very therapeutic ����

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  16. I am on day 4 of sobriety and today when I was walking the dog with my husband, I was so tired I felt like I just wanted to sit right there in the middle of the sidewalk. It's like I couldn't even gather the energy to shuffle along. It is great to know this is normal, and tonight I took a bubble bath, drank a ton of ice water and felt better. I'm just going to take care of myself like I should have been all along.

  17. Day 7 for me. I was a moderate drinker but still drinking far too much wine. Its only the last 2 days that i have felt tired and groggy. However, thankfully i still feel motivated to stick to the plan

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