Weight Gain After Giving Up On Alcohol

March 24th, 2021

When you start the road to sobriety, there are so many benefits that people have the chance to enjoy; From clearer skin, better sleep, clearer thinking and even weight loss. Something people might not expect as a result of becoming sober is to actually gain weight. Alcohol contains quite a few empty calories, which can seriously start to add up when you consider adding in mixed beverages and the number of drinks you have in a sitting. Sometimes though, when finding sobriety from alcohol dependence or addiction, many people end up experiencing weight gain.

There are many reasons as to why people experience weight gain after giving up on drinking alcohol. One of the biggest or at least more common reasons as to why some people gain weight is because they begin to replace their alcohol addiction or dependence with food. It’s so simple and common to replace one addiction with another. Some people find themselves reaching for a snack or even candy anytime they feel a craving for an alcoholic beverage. Another common replacement would be to reach for a calorie filled soda rather than an alcoholic drink. Many people find food comforting and look for the dopamine boost it brings them to serve the same purpose alcohol once did in their routine. This ends up leading to an even heavier intake of extra calories and therefore some extra weight gain.

Another reason that weight gain can occur in sobriety is because often times heavy drinkers can have chronically low blood sugar, which can continue into recovery. When someone has experience with low blood sugar, you typically try to correct it with sugary foods. This ends up boosting your blood sugar levels temporarily but will ultimately lead to another crash, resulting in an unhealthy cycle of sugar highs and lows. This can end up leading those in recovery with low blood sugar to develop raging sweet tooths, resulting in weight gain.

Often times, those who struggle with alcohol abuse also struggle with depression, resulting in a dual diagnosis. When struggling with depression and self medicating with alcohol, one often loses a sense of appetite. Then, once in recovery and being treated for both co-occurring issues, you begin to regain your appetite. This can result in what appears to be a rapid weight gain as your body begins to readjust to new and hopefully healthy eating habits. Another common co-occurring disorder for people struggling with addiction is eating disorders. A person with an addiction disorder is more at risk for disordered eating. Binge eating and weight gain are common in treatment where their underlying eating disorder may become more active.

Somewhat related to the issue of co-occurring mental health and addiction treatment - when someone is seeking out sobriety and removing an addiction from their life, this can be an incredibly stressful time in one’ life. When we’re stressed, we often turn to things that make us feel good. Now that we can no longer reach for a drink or drugs to give us that dopamine boost, we’ll reach for things like comfort foods or sweets. Again, contributing to that extra weight gain. 

Thankfully, the issue of weight gain is typically one within our control. As you have read in this article, many of the things causing this unexpected weight gain are things within our own control. As we begin to figure out what a new and healthy lifestyle looks like for ourselves, we are able to gain back control over bodies and figure out what we really need to be healthy individuals. This includes a balanced diet, quality and consistent sleep, as well as regular exercise.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with alcohol abuse or dependence, reach out to the admissions team here at Windmill Wellness Ranch. Our experienced group of recovery experts will help you and your loved one along every step of the way in the ultimate road to recovery. Our admissions lines of communication are completely confidential and safe with us.