How Come after Drinking Heavily for 23 years, I Quit

by April
(New zealand)

I quit alcohol cold turkey four weeks ago after having drunk 15+ units per night of vodka for 23 years almost non-stop. Whilst I am very grateful I am also VERY confused as I had no withdrawal symptoms apart from fatigue for about 5 days, and no craving for alcohol and feel fine. I know I NEVER want to drink alcohol again EVER as I now recognize that it is a poison that normal healthy people do not ingest. I have always taken vitamins and supplements to protect myself as much as possible, but isn’t this lack of symptoms a bit odd?

I have slight hypertension and my doctor runs blood tests every year. They have always been absolutely normal for liver function and everything else.

I know it seems odd to ask this but I feel a bit cheated because I kept drinking since I was terrified of stopping. I had read so much about how bad withdrawal symptoms would be. After day 3 it was so easy! I had never stopped more than 2 days before and I feel like I spent 23 years in terror for no good reason.

Also, I worry that symptoms may start later because of the amount I drank over the years. Right now I feel fine and very happy to be sober at last.


Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within hours after drinking is ceased and peak after a couple of days and then may last weeks. Having said that, it is unlikely that you will suddenly develop withdrawal symptoms at a later date if you have not experienced them by week four.

It is odd that you are not experiencing withdrawal symptoms. At the level you were drinking, one would assume that your body had become physically dependent on the substance as well as psychologically dependent. If you were not dependent at all, I have to wonder why you drank every day for so long and why so much. Most people would not drink that often or that much unless they felt that they “needed” it for physical and/or psychological reasons.

At this stage, I would advise you to count your blessings and avoid drinking that much (if anything) in the future as that much alcohol can have significant effects on your physical health even if you are not experiencing withdrawal symptoms. While you may not develop withdrawal symptoms at a later date, it is possible that you will develop physical symptoms related to alcohol abuse’s effect on your body. Your blood work and such may be normal now, but sometimes these effects take many years to fully manifest. Since you have stopped drinking now, it will be important for you to take good care of your health and try to heal from any negative impact your drinking has had on you. It may or not be possible for you to reverse some of the effects. Your health care practitioner can help determine ways that you can prevent future physical issues.

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