How Fast Do You Lose Tolerance To Alcohol When You Stop Drinking?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 2, 2023

Alcohol tolerance, for the most part, is something that you develop over the course of your experience with alcohol. How quickly you lose tolerance when you quit alcohol consumption may depend on several factors.

How Fast Do You Lose Tolerance To Alcohol When You Stop Drinking?

Alcohol tolerance is usually something that develops over time. While there are instances of metabolic tolerance, the most common types of tolerance are developed through the experience of the person drinking alcohol.

The danger of alcohol tolerance is that your blood alcohol content level continues to rise and increase the dangers of overdose, even if you don’t feel the effects of alcohol.

The more alcohol intake you can handle, the more you can mask an alcohol problem. However, it is possible to lose your level of tolerance to alcohol, particularly if you quit drinking.

How Long It Takes To Lose Tolerance To Alcohol

In most cases, it can take anywhere from two to five weeks during a period of complete abstinence to lower your tolerance level. If you merely reduce your drinking, it will take longer.

How Long It Takes To Reverse Acute Tolerance

Acute tolerance occurs when heavy drinkers develop a tolerance to alcohol’s effects after one drink or over the course of a single episode of drinking.

People can develop acute tolerance to alcohol’s effects on motor control but not its effects on inhibitions.

Not much is known about the reversal of acute tolerance, but it stands to reason that the higher the tolerance, the longer it will take to reverse it.

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How Long It Takes To Change A Functional Tolerance

Functional tolerance describes the most basic kind of tolerance developed by most people who drink regularly over a period of time.

Many other factors, such as drinking habits, can influence functional tolerance. But it is possible to reverse even a high alcohol tolerance in about a month.

Common Ways To Lower A High Alcohol Tolerance

There are ways to lower high alcohol tolerance.

A reset is a recommended practice, particularly at places like universities where students may feel their drinking is getting out of hand and creating health problems, mental health issues, and other health risks.

Tolerance Risks: Returning To Alcohol After A Break From Drinking

The point of taking a break from drinking is to evaluate your use of alcohol and assess whether some of those reasons led you to excessive drinking.

If you don’t use a period of abstinence wisely, you face risks when you return to drinking.

One risk is to try to drink as much as you did before abstinence. This could lead to severe impairment and even fatal overdose.

Another risk is that you could actually intensify alcohol dependence.

You could go again through the process of increasing amounts of alcohol until you are drinking at the level that you used to or worse.

Addiction Treatment Programs For Alcohol Abuse

If you can’t stop heavy drinking or binge drinking, then you need treatment for alcohol addiction. It takes more than a period of abstinence to stop an alcohol use disorder.

Sometimes, treatment means evidence-based therapy with a trained addiction counselor.

Other times, it means enrolling in inpatient alcohol treatment and medical detox to help with alcohol withdrawal, followed by an aftercare program.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services Near You can help you or your loved ones get the support you need. Reach out to our team today for more information.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 2, 2023
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