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Quit Drinking Anxiety, Sad, Stress, Headache, Irritable, Tired

by | Questions | 7 comments

Quitting Drinking with Anxiety, Sadness, Stress, Headache, Foggy Mind,
Fatigue and Irritability (Transcript)

This is Kevin O’Hara for Alcohol Mastery and I got an email during the week from somebody who wants to remain anonymous, but they gave me a mission to read the email out and I said I’d do an answer on it with a video so, I’ll just name the video “Quitting drinking with anxiety, sadness, stress, headache, foggy mind, fatigue and irritability.” So, he starts out:

“I’ll have you know that I’ve stopped drinking for almost two weeks now. Unfortunately, I fell back again last night for reasons I’ll share with you in a moment, but I want you to know that at the same time, I will be continuing my commitment to picking myself up and staying the course.

“My one major concern and fear is one only. As I quit, I started off fine; woke up fine, felt fine, then came this week – I felt a lot of anxiety, sadness, stress, headache, foggy mind, fatigue and irritability. It makes me feel like there might be something wrong with me in my life, while in reality, everything is going fine for me.

“My question is, is this part of the withdrawal process? If so, how long does it last? I became so afraid, I’d quit before in the past. The most 5 months, but I don’t remember going through this. The only thing I went through was a headache that lasted a while until I started back up again.

“Kevin, I really want this out of my life. I want to know that as I stop, that these feelings will eventually subside and that I will feel at ease like I once did before I ever started drinking. Did you go through all of that? And how long did it last? What did you do to keep going? And how did you feel at ease?”

So he sent me an update and he said:

“Currently, I’ve been sticking to my commitment to quitting alcohol with the exception of that one day that I fell off the wagon. I’ve been drink-free for 23 days. I’m taking this very seriously. Although I am happier without having to be brain-drenched in booze or feeling the terrible effects of it the next day, my anxiety has been coming and going. I also get heart palpitations from time to time, but it’s usually from drinking coffee. However this is something that I think has a lot to do with me quitting the liquor – I really hope I am wrong.

“Will these feelings ever go away? I get nervous about thinking about these things from time to time. I wanna be normal forever. I’m willing to quit forever in order to get that normal state of living. Will it happen?”

So, I did the answer to this question when I was out walking earlier on, so here it is now:

Your Symptoms

To be honest with you, everyone’s going to be different. Everyone’s symptoms are gonna be different. Your symptoms are just exactly that – they’re your symptoms.

The length of time that you take to go through the symptoms, the intensity of the symptoms, the amount of different symptoms that you get, the specific symptoms that you get, are all gonna be different for you than they are with anyone else.

No two people are gonna be unique in this way.


I think the thing that generally sticks out for everyone, the thing that seems to be the same for everyone is that everyone expects, when they quit drinking, that eventually they’re gonna have this Nirvana moment. And it just doesn’t work like that.

I think for most people, we’re just gonna have these see-saw motions up and down. You know a see-saw is – I don’t know what they call it in America. It’s like a roller-coaster sort of thing, you know the kids’ playground thing where it’s up and down – dips and drops. The ups and downs, it’s really what it’s all about. It’s really what we all experience. It’s just like that.

One morning you wake up and you just feel like you’re on top of the world. Like everything’s going your way, you have no symptoms, you don’t feel like you’ve got any symptoms. The next morning you get up and it’s completely the opposite. You’re full of anxiety, you’re full of stress, you’re full of self-doubt, wondering whether or not you can actually achieve this thing.

Fading and Fading and Fading… all Gone!

The great news is that eventually, all your withdrawal symptoms will fade. They’ll just eventually disappear and you won’t feel them anymore.

How long that’s gonna take for you?…

I don’t know. It all depends on the person, the individual person.

And by fade, I don’t mean that in the sense of turning down your TV and everything gradually and gradually gets less and less.

I think what happens at the beginning is that your symptoms are – those ups and downs – are very close together.

They happen very close together, it’s like you get high and low, high-low, high-low. And then as you go on those dips and drops they get further, and further, and further apart.

It’s like what I was saying the other day about the habit memories – now they happen so seldom that they surprise me when they do happen.

It surprises me when I get a big craving like that. That’s just the way it works and you have to accept that.

My Experience

I’ll give you an instance from my own personal experience. One of my biggest symptoms was I couldn’t sleep at the beginning. No matter what I did I just couldn’t sleep. I mean by sleeping, I mean drifting off and getting a good night’s sleep and actually going to sleep for a few hours.

I’d fitfully sleep, I might drop off for minutes but I never felt like I was fully asleep if you know what I mean.

And then I’m not sure how long into the quit – probably day 5 or 6 or 7 or something like that – I got a really good night’s sleep and I felt like I’d turned a corner.
I felt like that from now I was gonna be able to have a great sleep. In actual fact, the next day it went right back to normal again. I just couldn’t sleep again.
So, it carried on like that for maybe 30 days, or just over 30 days. And then eventually I was sleeping more than I was not sleeping. I was still having the odd fitless, restless night, but they were fewer and far in between.

Do I still get restless nights? Of course I do. Everyone does, and I just don’t attribute them to quitting alcohol anymore. There’s a lot of other things, there’s restlessness, there’s being overtired, there’s eating too much food, not having enough food…how many different reasons is there you know, but at the beginning you know what’s happening, because you’re quitting.

Life is Life!

I’d really love to say, to tell you now that my life is just a big bunch of roses, That there’s no problems and no issues, but it’s a crock. Everyone has problems.
I don’t know anyone that has got their life that sorted out that there’s no issues.
I mean, a lot of the time a lot of the issues are hormonal. It’s all this stuff that’s just outside your control that you just can’t do anything about that’s gonna cause problems.
And people give me headaches sometimes, it just depends on the person. Everyone knows somebody that is capable of stirring up a big bad headache in them just by listening to them.
It’s just life.

Being in Control

The thing about it is that my life is much, much more in my own control now. I don’t feel like my life is being swished around like beer in a beer bottle.

Your body and your mind just want to be stable – they crave that stability, so your mind is going to do everything it can to try and bring that stability about.
Really, you’ve just started to get control back of the mothership.
You’re getting your body back.
You’re getting your mind back.
You just have to ride it out, and let things happens.
Let things happen that are gonna happen and that are out of your control.

Allow for Healing to Happen

A week will go by and you’ll be stronger in a week. A month will go by and you’ll be even stronger. Six months, the same thing, you’ll just keep getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger. And the whole point is that you will build strength upon strength upon strength and that’s where your ultimate momentum is gonna come from – is the strength and the courage that you build in those first few days and first few weeks of quitting alcohol.

So I really hope that gave you some push forward and I hope it gives you some encouragement that things will work out for you.

So really just keep it up and keep watching the videos.

If you have any more questions just shoot me an email, and I’ll either try to answer it or send you to one of the videos we’ve done already or I’ll answer it on a video. So, whatever.


Until next time! My name’s Kevin OHara for Alcohol Mastery.

Onwards and upwards!

Thanks for visiting the site.
Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!

Quitting Drinking with Anxiety, Sadness, Stress, Headache, Foggy Mind, Fatigue, and Irritability?

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  1. Eric johnson

    I’ve been sober from alcohol off and on for many years in my life. This past year has been the hardest for me as I finished a court mandated program October 2013. I have been drinking almost every day since I “graduated” their program.(I wasn’t allowed alcohol without consequence of jail) I have been struggling inside myself to quit drinking or at least cut it down to a once a month thing. My mind is clouded, I’ve gained weight, and my relationship with my girlfriend is taking a turn for the worse. My girlfriend enjoys the occasional drink but doesn’t drink as much as me. I need some time away from the drinking and your article is inspiring to me. While I was on the court program my longest time without alcohol was 7 months straight. I remember being excited about things as simple as a song on the radio, or eating a delicious meal. Don’t get me wrong I still love eating, but to feel that same excitement I once did I’m afraid I never will. Well I’m just ranting at this point. I hope someone can give me some perspective. Life just seems hopeless and boring. I want a change. Thanks for listening.

    • Kevin O'Hara

      You have the perspective you need right there mate! Your life is shit with alcohol and good without. You say you get excited about something as simple as listening to a song or eating a delicious meal. I know it sounds corny, but it is the simple things in life from which we get the most pleasure – that’s the way it’s always been and will always be. We are hunting for the ‘thing’ that will make us happy, when we have it in front of us every day. I don’t wake up every morning feeling like I’m on top of the world, some mornings I feel like crap, but when I remember back to what waking up in the morning used to feel like, that’s the perspective I need.
      You don’t need alcohol in your life, but there’s plenty of things you do need – your girlfriend for instance, or your health. You can do this Eric!
      Kindest regards and best wishes

  2. Natan Ben Or

    After several years on constant drinking, usually each evening an on weekends, I have come to the realization that I am a functioning alcoholic – irrespective of the fact that I have had no blackouts, no fits, none of the “rock bottom” experiences. I have been drinking almost daily, unable to pass a liquor store without stopping in – despite wanting to, and not really caring what I drink – just chasing the numbness.

    I recently decided to call it quits. It’s been 6 days now. My spouse (yes, we’ve had our problems) has had wine in the house and recently bought a six-pack of hard cider that I like, but I’ve managed to “just say no.” I went to a party for my daughter where wine was served and I stuck with tonic water. I believe I can do this.

    However, I’m consistently feeling like I’m hung over. Not the “hold the pillow over your head in the dark” type, but the foggy, groggy, slightly headachey feeling. Does anyone know how long it might be before things clear up?

    • Kris

      I recently quit 6weeks ago. It took 3 weeks for me not to feel the light-headed, groggy, somewhat quickly aggregated temperament to dissipate. I’m still having anxiety and heart palpitations, but I hope these cure themselves too as my body and brain adjust to being sober. Congrats and stay strong!!!! We can do this

  3. Kris

    I recently moved to a diff state and I missed my family terribly, I was alone and having separation anxiety. I started drinking more than I ever had, it was becoming a problem and I made the choice to quit, completely!!! I know it was and is the best decision for me, however my anxiety is back with a vengeance. It’s been exactly six weeks and two days and I’ve been having non-stop heart palpitations!! It’s ruining my quality of life and I keep praying they will dissipate. It makes me wonder if having wine will help, but I refuse to give in.
    I’ve done blood tests, seen doctors, etc. The tests came back perfect so I can only conclude its still withdrawal? Has anyone had these before? Lasting this long after quitting drinking? I thought these symptoms would have been gone by now. ;(.

  4. Karalyn

    Every time I’ve tried to quit drinking, the irregular heart beats begin & boy are they scary. I’m always concerned I’m going to have a heart attack & the only thing that makes the irregular beats go away is to take another drink. I have such a true desire to stop drinking & yet there is so much stress where I live, it makes it so hard. I have a terrible neighbor who smokes drugs & never works, always spreading his drug fumes into my apartment. I don’t have the extra money to move out, nor can I find a safe place in my price range, so I’m stuck feeling trapped within alcohol addiction & major stress because of this one horrible human being. I called the police on him, I put a note on his door, I notified the building manager but he keeps getting away with it. No one will help me. I am to the point where I just want to over dose on something & pass away. I have no family left & no friends because I am a drunk & most of my real friends I did have left long ago. I feel I could totally get my life back together, lose weight, & stop drinking, but I need a much better living situation that isn’t so stressful & negative. People drink for all kinds of reasons, I drink because of what other humans do to me, directly, or indirectly. Maybe I’m just too sensitive but I feel I should be able to live in my own place without having to inhale someone else’s filthy, illegal drug habit. His drugs are literally keeping me drunk. I put that on the note on his door, he just blew it off, not caring about anyone but himself. My life may end because of lack of money & a selfish pr*ck of a neighbor. Wow, what a huge waste, I guess I’m pretty depressed.

    • Sam

      Karalyn I cannot tell you what to do, but I can tell you that I care. I can tell you that you matter. Someone like me that’s never met you and doesn’t know you from anything cares about you. Imagine how much the people that do know you care. Imagine how much God loves you. Practical advise I could give would be to first make sure you want to quit drinking. So much of this feeling and fog will life after a few weeks/months of quitting. While you quit I suggest you save up some money to see a doctor. They can give you things like Valium to calm you down and aim at preventing the irregular heart beats. Just please try to do that. That is one step. It’s not an easy step but it’s something. It’s something to build on. You need a number of goals to be met and I think when you see a few successes you can simply create more. I truly want to know that you are not feeling suicidal anymore and so depressed. Take care of yourself.


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