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Phantom Hangovers

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Clear Mind’s Sobriety Haven Blog 

 Phantom Hangovers

 Today is day 50 for me without touching a drop of alcohol, whiskey, beer, or wine. To say it’s been easy would be a lie. Yesterday was very hard for me. I decided to do some of the things I normally do on a relaxing Sunday afternoon while enjoying a drink, but I did them all sober this time. I kept looking for my drink out of habit, but I had water and green tea instead. And I made it through. I am proud of myself for not drinking on Thanksgiving as well. I hope that you all had a great and SOBER Thanksgiving with your loved ones and family. 

So here I am at day 50. My mind is a lot clearer and I am starting to feel happy. Like, generally happy. I am not sure if I’ve ever felt entirely happy in my head. Alcohol is a depressant and will actually make depression worse. My joints are not hurting as bad and I can see a physical difference in my face. It is not swollen anymore. Even though my body is beginning to look and feel better, I still wake up with headaches at times. The first thought I have is “Ugh, I’ve got a hangover!”. But I don’t. I have not had alcohol at all since October 8th. So why do I still feel so bad in the mornings on most days? I did a little research about this. The feeling is called having a “Phanton Hangover”. I think a lot of the phantom hangovers I’m experiencing are from me walking up with a hangover pretty much every other day of the last 30-odd years. My body just expects to wake up feeling terrible. I think it is a bit of a learned behavior from dealing with hangovers on a repeated basis for many many years.

I just saw this comment on someone’s post about having these mini fake hangovers “This is totally normal and, in my experience, continues to happen for months. It’s not fun, but I believe it’s an important part of your psychological recovery. These little hangovers serve as useful reminders. They remind us how much better we are without that poison in our bodies. Keep your chin up. This is OK. :+1:“MrCade

Let that be a helpful reminder to you, and to me, that it could be way worse. Waking up with a small headache isn’t as bad as the hangovers that kept me in bed until 6:00 p.m. at night. Life is better now. You can do it. We can do it.

Below is some information on Phantom Hangovers. 

50 Days without alcohol milestone

What is a Phantom Hangover? A phantom hangover is a term for the symptoms that your body creates after abstaining from alcohol for a certain amount of time. These symptoms often start after 48 hours, despite not having had any alcohol during this time. The phantom hangover is usually experienced by heavy drinkers who have stopped drinking. Symptoms can occur anywhere from a few days to a couple of months after quitting alcohol.  

Phantom hangovers happen either as a psychological effect of quitting alcohol or as a chemical imbalance in the brain while it is trying to recover from alcohol abuse. After you have stopped drinking alcohol for a period of time, you might wake up one morning surprised that you feel like you have a slight hangover. This symptom can be psychosomatic. Due to a chemical imbalance that creates side effects resulting from suddenly leaving a heavy dose of alcohol your body still expects to be hungover. Many people recovering from alcoholism often say that it is a part of this process you should ignore it.

Symptoms of a phantom hangover:

Headache or Migraine
Muscle Ache
Brain Fog
Nausea, Sick to your stomach feeling
High or Low Blood Pressure
Insomnia, Sleeplessness

The Medical Science Behind Phantom Hangover: Alcohol metabolism: Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, which breaks it down into acetaldehyde and then into acetate. Acetaldehyde is a toxic compound that can cause hangover symptoms. The liver needs time to break down the acetaldehyde, which can cause prolonged hangover symptoms. Acetaldehyde damages your DNA and prevents your body from repairing the damage. DNA is the cell’s “instruction manual” that controls a cell’s normal growth and function. When DNA is damaged, a cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor. A toxic buildup of acetaldehyde can increase your cancer risk. The rate of alcohol metabolism is constant. Heavy drinkers metabolize alcohol faster than light drinkers or non-drinkers. However, the rate of alcohol metabolism drops substantially in advanced liver disease. While the rate of alcohol metabolism is constant, the rate of alcohol absorption can vary. First, ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance, and a known carcinogen. Then, acetaldehyde is further metabolized down to another, less active byproduct called acetate,1 which then is broken down into water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination. Irrespective of the pathway of alcohol metabolism, ethanol, and acetaldehyde are the key compounds researched in relation to alcohol hangovers. There is, however, ongoing debate about their role in the pathology of the alcohol hangover, and given the paucity of empirical data, theoretically, both ethanol and acetaldehyde concentrations could have a direct influence on hangover severity. Many core hangover symptoms (e.g., headache, nausea, apathy, and concentration problems) likely involve central processes. While systemic processes clearly play a role in aspects of alcohol hangover, exposure of the brain to ethanol or its metabolites may ultimately determine the pathogenesis of alcohol hangover (symptoms). Given this, it is important to investigate the capability of peripheral ethanol and acetaldehyde to enter the brain and exert central effects, including a hangover. This is why some of us will have phantom hangovers.

Ways to feel better: If you are replacing your alcohol with sodas, stop now. Carbonated beverages are very unhealthy for you and can cause headaches and dehydration. Eat a large, hearty breakfast first thing in the morning. This will give you energy and keep your body fueled throughout the day. Drinking water throughout the day is also important. Hydration can ease nausea and headaches brought on by the phantom hangover. Physical activity has been the best solution. Don’t just drag around. Get your blood moving and drink water to rehydrate. Your body is repairing itself from the long time it has been unhealthy. 

Please remember that this is a blog and not actual medical information. If you feel you cannot stop drinking on your own, you may need medical detox to safely come off alcohol. Struggling with alcohol dependency and overuse can be dangerous and even harder to quit if you try to do it alone. If you feel you need help, find a local AA meeting, or call Addiction No More to help you find a detox or local rehab center near you. 


National Library of Medicine

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Author: Anna Marie Skye

Follow Anna Marie Skye as she discusses her struggle with binge drinking and her sobriety journey HERE.

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol Over Time

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 What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol Over Time

 Over the past month, I have had a lot of extra time on my hands. So I searched for information on what each day, week, and month of sobriety will look like. It’s helped me to have something to look forward to. However, it was pretty hard to find all of that information on how you will feel after not drinking for 24 hours, or how your body reacts to not drinking alcohol for one week, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, etc. I have researched and compiled all of that information here for you to make it easier for you to find.

In my personal experience, I was expecting drastic changes to happen overnight and that has not been the case. However I have taken a photo of myself on every weekly milestone and I have noticed less facial swelling over the past 6 weeks, the bags under my eyes are not as dark the circles are less puffy, my face is not as pale, my mind is clearer and I can rationalize better. I am not as panicky and have had less anxiety. When trying to stop drinking it is important to try to stay positive. Do I have bad days? Yes, almost every day. Little things trigger me just the same as they did 6 weeks ago. Something goes wrong at work and I want a beer. I have to take an uncomfortable phone call, I want a margarita. But the difference now is, I don’t do it. I have begun to crochet at night and read more. I started a series on Netflix that I’ve been putting off or have been too drunk to pay attention to the other 3 times I’ve tried watching it. Find mini wins in your sobriety and don’t focus on the negative. This is odd coming from me who is the world’s most pessimistic person. But maybe not drinking is changing that for me. Maybe it will change for you too. I in no way feel like I’m over my drinking problem. Not at all. The future without alcohol seems like a boring and strange place, but it’s a place I’ve never been before so I am going to continue to look forward to it. 

As always, no information in this blog should be taken as medical advice. This is a blog that documents my sobriety journey and gives others tips and information on getting sober. If you drink every day or if you have withdrawal symptoms if you do not drink, please consider at least going to a detox center to get you past the withdrawals of alcohol. Alcohol treatment centers can also help you get to the root cause of your alcohol dependency and can help you overcome it without being alone in your recovery. 

What happens to your body during the first 3 days of not drinking alcohol?
The first three days of not drinking are the hardest. This is typically when withdrawal hits. (If you are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms please do not stop drinking alcohol. Contact 911, go to the emergency room, or call to speak with one of our specialists at Addiction No More to see if you need a medical detox to come off alcohol.)

 Sweating, increased heart rate, tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, agitation, and anxiety are the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Severe symptoms include hallucinations (i.e., seeing, feeling, or hearing sensations that don’t match reality) and seizure activity, including delirium tremens (DT). When these symptoms happen it can be tempting to give up and start drinking again. Don't do it. I personally had cold sweats, shakes headaches, felt like I had the flu and couldn't sleep for the first week of my sobriety, and the depression "WHEW!" (that is a blog for another day). But you can do it. Take it one day, one hour, one minute, one second at a time.

What happens to your body after 1 week of not drinking alcohol? 
You made it through withdrawal and have now made it a week. Good job. Now what? Going 7 days alcohol-free has several benefits such as better sleep, better memory function, more energy, better mental health, better skin health, and much more. All of your body's systems are back to their usual working levels. You may find that you have more energy and better concentration. Even if you toss and turn a bit at first, when you do drop off you'll get better-quality sleep and probably wake feeling more refreshed the next day. Your skin's hydration begins to restore. 

What happens to your body after 2 weeks of not drinking alcohol? You may still be having trouble sleeping but you should feel more refreshed when you wake up. Dreams may seem more vivid. I know my dreams have been way more memorable and weird. A few people in my online AA group have also mentioned their dreams. Your emotions may be stronger. You might get a little more agitated than usual. This is totally normal! You might notice that you don't have heartburn and upset stomachs as often if at all anymore. You could be losing a little weight. Be careful not to replace alcohol with sweets like I did. Now it is a challenge to avoid not only alcohol but cookies too! You could still experience long-term withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, phantom hangovers, nightmares, night sweats, or insomnia.

👍 Positive things that happen to your body after 2 weeks of not drinking alcohol include better sleep and hydration. Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining. After two or three weeks you will also see a reduction in symptoms such as acid reflux where the stomach acid burns your throat.

What happens to your body after 3 weeks of not drinking alcohol? By now, you have successfully reduced your risk of heart disease, including stroke, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Your kidney health and vision may improve too. Your blood pressure may reduce to normal levels by the 3rd or 4th week. You may start having even more emotions especially if your drinking problem was sprung from traumatic events (common). (I am in week 6 of my sobriety now and trust me, this does get easier as the weeks go by. My third week was hell.) Isolating yourself from people you love while in recovery can lead to relapse. 

👍 Positive things that happen at week 3 of no alcohol are, that you have more energy, better sleep, more free time, weight loss, better memory, improved skin, reduced anxiety and depression, more money, and improved sex drive. Please know that this doesn't always happen right on cue. I was still having some of the symptoms of week one by my third week and am only now, in week 6 experiencing the positives that should come in week 3. Don't get discouraged. It will happen for you in time. No one person's recovery is the same. 

What happens to your body after 4 weeks of not drinking alcohol? You may start having a form of sensory overload. Your mind and body have been in a sort of haze this entire time you've been drinking, or even with binge drinking. As you start to really"wake up" you may be flooded by emotions that alcohol or drugs have been holding at bay. Don't let these emotions and memories make you relapse. You are still in control. You should get help from a professional if these emotions are debilitating. We go to the doctor for as little as an infected hangnail. Mental illness should also be treated in the same manner. 

👍 Positive things that happen to your body when you stop drinking for a month are your liver fat may be reduced by up to 20%. I believe this can be true as my right side used to ache constantly and I do feel less pain now. Your risk of type 2 diabetes has lowered. You may notice that your overall well-being is better. You may have added self-confidence and less anxiety. You may have more energy. Anyone who successfully stops drinking for a whole month is more likely to abstain from alcohol for 6 months or longer.

One Month Sober

What happens to your body after 6 weeks of not drinking alcohol?
We made it 6 weeks! WOW! Great job. So...now what happens? The changes you may be starting to actually see now are weight loss, better sleep, a lower risk for major diseases, an enhanced immune system, healthier skin, and lower cancer risks. For many people, life is just better without alcohol. Headaches and having a dry mouth will decrease, the skin will feel more radiant, and dark circles around your eyes will lessen. Your memory will begin to improve. Alcohol is proven to hinder the part of your brain that deals with memory. Personally, I am at this point now in my sobriety and I can feel a change. My sig. other has told me twice in the past week that the circles under my eyes are lighter. I had dry mouth so bad before I stopped drinking that I ended up in the emergency room for an infected saliva gland. That was kind of my wake-up call. I have really bad chronic asthma and my asthma symptoms are so much better. I don't have headaches as often. I'm actually contemplating getting back into yoga which I haven't been able to consistently do for years because of middle-of-the-week hangovers. 

What happens to your body after 2 months of not drinking alcohol? By 4-8 weeks after quitting, your gut will start to level out. As I mentioned earlier, you will probably have less upset stomach, less diarrhea, less vomiting, and less acid reflux and gas. Your sleep quality will improve. You may be having and remembering more of your dreams. You are probably waking up actually feeling refreshed. Though we may fall asleep faster when we drink, our brains increase alpha wave patterns, which cause our brains to be more active than they should be while we sleep.

What happens to your body after 3 months of not drinking alcohol? Binge drinkers, alcoholics, and dependent drinkers will feel more energy and a sense of well-being at the 3-month mark with less self-deprecating behaviors and thoughts. You should have less anxiety and depression. Your critical thinking skills will improve. Saving money! You should be saving lots of money by not spending all of that cash on drinks at the bar and bottles for at home. Your relationships with friends, loved ones, and family members may be better because you aren't having to hide or leave early to go get a drink. Living an honest life is rewarding. Not drinking alcohol reduces your risk of cancer. Because alcohol is a known human carcinogen, abstaining from alcohol will eventually decrease your risk of getting cancer.

Types of cancer that alcohol is known to contribute to include:
  • Liver
  • Oral
  • Breast
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Colorectal
  • Ovarian

What happens to your body after 6 months of not drinking alcohol? Continued reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Mental health challenges that you had before or while drinking, are often reduced by not drinking for 6 months. The intensity of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can be lessened. Increased quality of sleep has positive effects on many people. For some, meditation, yoga, reading, or other activities such as a pottery class, become more possible. Sleep dictates our energy levels to an extent so exercise or any form of movement can become easier and more enjoyable.

What happens to your body after 1 year of not drinking alcohol? People should start to notice that you look better, your skin has improved and your mood is better. You will have probably saved at least $1000. People report fewer sick days from work, and your blood sugar, body, mind, and heart are a whole lot healthier than it was 12 months ago. Your immune system is also functioning better. You have a healthy liver. Continue using the strategies, tools, and support team that has helped you get this far. Please reach out for support when you need it to stay on track. 

Tips: Take Vitamins! 
The best vitamins for liver repair are listed below. You can get these vitamins through food which is the best way to add any vitamin. If you decide to use a supplement make sure it won't interfere with any medications you are on. It is always recommended to speak with your doctor before adding a vitamin to your daily regimen. If you are taking other medications please ask your doctor if these will interfere before taking them.
  • Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that helps protect cell membranes from oxidation and destruction. 
  • Vitamin D Chronic liver diseases are often associated with vitamin D deficiency. 
  • Vitamin C has been suggested to be involved in regulating hepatic and circulating lipid homeostasis
  • Vitamin B Reverses liver inflamation.
  • Milk Thistle protects the liver from toxins, including certain drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses.
  • Dandelion root has been traditionally used as a liver tonic, a medicinal substance that can boost vitality.
  • Turmeric is a common yellow spice that exhibits antioxidant-like effects, which can help protect the liver from oxidative stress.
  • Beetroot, or beets, is a vegetable that is associated with liver and gallbladder health.
  • Ginger contains gingerol and other active compounds that have antioxidant-like properties that can help manage oxidative stress in the body and support liver health.

Increase your antioxidants

Plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and whole grains are among the best sources of antioxidants. They are also typically high in fiber and excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. Some antioxidant-rich foods include blueberries, strawberries, red cabbage, purple grapes, spinach, beets, orange vegetables, avocados, and even dark chocolate. Coffee is also a rich source of antioxidants.

Alcohol Change
Alcohol Treatment
First Month of Sobriety
Vitamins for liver health
Benefits of not drinking

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Author: Anna Marie Skye
Follow Anna Marie Skye as she discusses her struggle with binge drinking and her sobriety journey HERE.

Clear Mind’s Sobriety Haven Blog: Binge Drinking

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Clear Mind’s Sobriety Haven Blog 

Binge Drinking

Rock Stack at the ocean makes for a realizing Clear Mind for our Sobriety Haven Blog

  Hello, and welcome to Clear Mind’s Sobriety Haven Blog. This blog is about my journey to become sober and overcome my addiction to binge drinking. Over time I will add tips and things I’ve learned along the way. 

What is Binge Drinking?

binge drink·ing
/ˈbinj ˈdriNGkiNG/
the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time.
“teenagers as young as 16 admit to binge drinking”.

Binge drinking is the most common and costly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Binge drinking is defined as consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women. Most people who binge drink are not dependent on alcohol. However, binge drinking is harmful on its own. It is associated with serious injuries and diseases, as well as with a higher risk of alcohol use disorder.

  • Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34.
  • Binge drinking is more common among men than among women.
  • Binge drinking is most common among adults who have higher household incomes ($75,000 or more), are non-Hispanic White, or live in the Midwest.
  • For some groups and states, binge drinking is not as common, but those who binge drink do so frequently or consume large quantities of alcohol.

 I am a binge drinker. I have been for as long as I can remember. At age 15, I had my first sip of a wine cooler and it was pretty much “game on” after that moment. I never really got to the point of drinking daily but I was close and could have easily let it go there. But I knew you were socially considered to “have a problem” at that point so I felt I was still in control over my drinking, but I wasn’t. Binge drinking was/is ruining my life. For over 30 years I have struggled with my love/hate relationship with alcohol. It has ruined real relationships, jobs, and even parts of my body. Enough is enough.

 As of today, I am one month and 8 days into my sobriety and this is the longest I’ve ever gone without drinking. It’s been a struggle, to say the least. I mean, part of me isn’t even ready to quit but I’ve gone this long and am just stubborn enough to see how long I can go. The longest I’ve ever made it in the past has been 21 days. I’ve downloaded an app called I Am Sober to help. This is a free app that tracks your sobriety date and has a wonderful and supportive community. There is an area to do a daily pledge which is the most helpful thing to me. Making a personal pledge to myself each day has kept me strong in not getting drunk. This app is free of charge with upgrades available including online therapy. Addiction No More, nor I am not affiliated with the “I Am Sober” app in any way. I personally don’t even use the paid version. This is just one tool that I have been using in my own personal sobriety journey that is helping me a lot so I wanted to share it with you. This is the link to download for Android and iOS. 

As always, stopping alcohol without medical assistance can be life-threatening. If you drink heavily and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from not consuming alcohol you may need a medical detox. PLEASE NOTE: This is my personal testimony about my own journey in stopping getting drunk and binge drinking. No information here should be taken as gospel. If you feel you need help stopping, or if you need a detox center, help finding local AA meetings, or need inpatient or outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse you can call to speak with licensed therapists and addiction specialists at Addiction No More today. 


Am I an Alcoholic?
Alcohol Detox
Alcohol Treatment
Binge Drinking
Binge Drinking in Teens

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Author: Anna Marie Skye
Follow Anna Marie Skye as she discusses her struggle with binge drinking and her sobriety journey HERE.

Anna Marie Skye Blog Contributor

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Anna Marie Skye is a blog contributor for Addiction No More. “Clear Mind’s Sobriety Haven” Blog is a blog about binge drinking and alcoholism. This is one woman’s journey of overcoming addiction to alcohol, beer, and liquor. Follow her ups and downs in her journey to stop drinking for good and start to re-learn how to live a fulfilled and happy life without the use of alcohol. 
Follow her blog HERE
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Clear Mind's Sobriety Haven Logo, pink lotus flower in pink circle

Author: Anna Marie Skye
Follow Anna Marie Skye as she discusses her struggle with binge drinking and her sobriety journey HERE.