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As Dry January Comes to An End, Just How Long Does It Take to Reverse a Functional Alcohol Tolerance?

Can a month of being teetotal help those with functional alcohol tolerance kick their dependency on alcohol altogether?

Image shows alcohol coming out of a head, illustrating the dangers of alcohol.
Dry January ends, as many decide whether to stop drinking altogether. Credit: Shutterstock/Lightspring

Could functional alcohol tolerance all stem from our first sip of alcohol?

Many of those who enjoy a drink will remember the first time they had one.

An experience that most people generally depict as gratifying, fun, and, for some, even ushering in a new era of freedom to do what they please.

At that moment, the last thing people think about is how, perhaps, this first drink could spiral into an unhealthy habit.

For many, it does not. Social drinking is an integral feature of modern society. For the rest of their lives, they may go on just enjoying a drink or two on an evening out.

However, this is becoming less common. During the Covid-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption increased more than it had during the past 50 years. This rise in consumption caused an inevitable increase in alcoholism.

There are some warning signs to watch out for in terms of whether you have developed an alcohol addiction. A functional tolerance to alcohol has become one of the most common.

Image shows assorted alcoholic beverages.
Just how possible is it to kick alcohol dependency? Credit: Shutterstock/monticello

The danger with a functional alcohol tolerance is that it can go unnoticed by many. It can also not be defined by any definite parameters. It varies for each individual depending on their alcohol intake and how often they drink.

What is functional alcohol tolerance?

It is when one can function perfectly, doing the normal activities that they do each day whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Functional alcohol tolerance can be developed over time due to people consuming more and more alcohol. Ultimately, they need an even greater amount than normal to feel what they first felt when they consumed alcohol.

A more scientific take on functional alcohol tolerance is when your central nervous system becomes accustomed to the presence of ethanol. The function within your brain will adapt to the impact of ethanol, as well as your behavior.

What are the side effects of functional alcohol tolerance?

There are significant and damaging side effects to developing a functional alcohol tolerance. Some side effects include damage to your organs, physical dependence, and cravings for alcohol. In the most severe cases, it can lead to overdose death from toxicity.

Functional alcohol tolerance experts at say that it is an issue becoming more common with general alcohol consumption.

Why is being a functioning alcoholic becoming more common?

The reasons for it becoming more common are that alcohol can be easily obtained and also that alcohol is commonly offered at social gatherings.

The point on social gatherings is consequential because those who refuse alcohol are generally more criticized than those who choose to drink.

Is there a fix for alcohol dependence?

The light at the end of the tunnel for those with functional alcohol tolerance is that there are ways to fix it.

The most effective method for reducing your alcohol dependence is going teetotal for a while. Dry January is a viable opportunity for this.

However, risks come with this. The main risk is taking alcohol out of your diet entirely, but then going back to your old habits. Reverting to these habits can cause a fatal overdose as your body is no longer able to cope with that volume of alcohol.

Rehabilitation facilities are also available for those with an alcohol addiction.

If you’re struggling with a dependence on alcohol, please use this Alcoholics Anonymous link to find your nearest help from AA –

Written By

Hi, my name is Matthew McKeown and I am a final-year History student at Ulster University, and also a journalist intern here at Trill Mag!

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