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What to Expect During the First Three Months of Sobriety: Common Obstacles and Tips to Overcome
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What to Expect During the First Three Months of Sobriety: Common Obstacles and Tips to Overcome Them

June 25, 2024
8 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 25, 2024
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
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Reframe Content Team
June 25, 2024
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Embarking on a journey of sobriety can be both challenging and rewarding. The first three months are especially crucial as your body and mind adjust to a life without alcohol. This period often involves navigating physical withdrawal symptoms, psychological challenges, and social adjustments. Understanding what to expect during these initial months can help you prepare and stay committed to your goal of achieving a healthier, alcohol-free lifestyle.

Month 1: Physical and Emotional Turbulence

What to Expect During the First Three Months of Sobriety: Common Obstacles and Tips to Overcome

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

In the first month of sobriety, the body undergoes significant changes as it detoxifies from alcohol. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and Irritability: These are common as your nervous system adjusts to the absence of alcohol.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Digestive issues may arise, making it essential to consume easy-to-digest foods like bananas and broth-based soups.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty sleeping is prevalent during this phase. Reducing screen time and establishing a bedtime routine can help.
  • Fatigue: Your body is working hard to eliminate toxins, which can leave you feeling drained.

For more detailed information on the stages of alcohol withdrawal and tips on managing these symptoms, refer to the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.

Emotional Rollercoaster

The first month also brings emotional challenges. You may experience mood swings, heightened anxiety, and cravings for alcohol. It's crucial to have a support system in place—whether it's friends, family, or a support group. Engaging in self-soothing practices like taking a calming bubble bath or practicing mindfulness can provide temporary relief.

Month 2: Intensified Psychological Challenges

Delirium Tremens (DTs)

For some, the second month may bring severe withdrawal symptoms like Delirium Tremens (DTs), characterized by hallucinations, agitation, and confusion. This condition typically arises 48-72 hours after the last drink but can appear up to 10 days later. Immediate medical attention is crucial if DTs are suspected. For a personal account of hitting rock bottom and the journey to recovery, read Rock Bottom Is Relative: Kevin Bellack's Story.

Psychological Symptoms

Even as physical symptoms begin to subside, psychological challenges may intensify:

  • Mood Swings and Anxiety: These can persist, making it essential to seek support from friends, family, or professionals.
  • Intense Cravings: Developing healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, meditation, or engaging in a new hobby can help manage these urges.

Month 3: Emerging from the Fog

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

As you enter the third month, you might experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), which includes prolonged psychological symptoms such as:

  • Irritability: Persistent frustration and agitation can be challenging.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns may continue.
  • Emotional Instability: Feelings of doubt, worry, and fear may arise, even in non-stressful situations.

To better understand the emotional landscape of early sobriety and get advice on how to support a loved one during this time, check out How To Help an Alcoholic Who Doesn’t Want Help.

Building a Support System

A robust support system is invaluable during this phase. Empathetic friends, family, and peers can provide constant reassurance and understanding. If PAWS symptoms persist, consulting a physician or therapist for potential treatments can make a significant difference.

Tips for Overcoming Common Obstacles

Establish Healthy Routines

Creating new, healthy routines can help you stay on track:

  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Eat Nutritious Meals: Focus on a balanced diet to support your body's recovery.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Techniques like meditation and yoga can help manage stress and cravings.

Engage in New Hobbies

Rediscovering old passions or exploring new interests can provide a positive outlet for your energy and emotions. For inspiration on activities to try, read Gift Ideas To Celebrate a Friend in Sobriety.

Use Support Resources

Joining support groups or engaging in community activities can provide a sense of belonging and encouragement. Online forums and daily check-in meetings can offer additional support. For a list of recommended books that can inspire and guide you through your alcohol-free journey, visit 10 Sober Books To Inspire Your Alcohol-Free Lifestyle.

Celebrate Small Wins

Recognizing and celebrating small victories can boost your motivation. Whether it's treating yourself to a favorite snack or taking a relaxing day off, acknowledging your progress is essential.

Final Thoughts

The journey to sobriety is a commendable feat, and the first three months are critical in establishing a solid foundation. By understanding what to expect and implementing strategies to manage challenges, you can navigate this period with confidence and resilience. Remember, sobriety is not just about abstaining from alcohol; it's about rediscovering yourself and embracing a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Moderate Your Drinking Effectively

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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