Since childhood, we’ve been repeatedly warned of the cringe-worthy effects of alcohol on the body. (And since college, most of us have become all too familiar with them firsthand.) There’s no denying that alcohol plays a major role in the life of most American adults. In fact, registered dietitian Jenny Champion says that more than half of us report drinking alcohol on a monthly basis. “Occasional drinking has been said to improve health,” she says. “But frequent binging at happy hour with co-workers doesn’t.”
Not to freak you out, but according to Barry Sears, Ph.D., biochemist and creator of the Zone diet, alcohol’s negative impact on the body can include everything from inflammatory effects on your organs to potential damage to your DNA. Drinking in excess can also put you at risk for certain cancers, diabetes, and liver disease, among other grim conditions. “Aside from the serious dangers of drinking too much, there are also a number of other not-so-pleasant effects,” adds Champion, “including lousy moods, crazy sugar cravings, excess calories, liver fat, poor sleep habits, dry skin, and foggy concentration.”
Huge bummer, we know. But here’s a giant ray of hope: Our bodies can actually bounce back from alcohol’s negative effects at amazing speeds. In a matter of hours, in fact. And the longer you go without drinking, the stronger and healthier your body and skin become.
Want to know exactly how long it takes for these benefits to kick in? With the help of Champion, we put together the following timeline of your body after that last glass of rosé. Read on to see the incredible things your body can do in the days, weeks, and months after you stop drinking.