There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cocktail every now and then, or even a glass of wine every night. Such modest imbibing has been found to have amazing health benefits. But when drinking heavily becomes a habit, the negative side effects are plentiful: high blood pressure, weight gain, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammation and a weakened immune system, just to name a few.
In other words, when you’re drinking too much or have developed a relationship with alcohol that feels out of control, you’re not going to be at your best physically, emotionally or financially ($12 cocktails add up quick!). People who have gotten sober can attest to this better than anyone.
Sometimes, it takes a visual aid to drive the point home, which is why before and after photos of people who quit drinking are so shocking—and inspiring. Reddit user Ghostbackwards, for example, shared these before and after photos of himself titled, simply, “My sobriety.”
Shockingly, these two photos were taken only seven months apart. “I was 225 when I quit and lost 30 pounds within the first month,” he wrote in a comment on Reddit. “I have lost an additional 10 since then. I had an abscessed tooth which is what is causing the severe cheek action you see in the left photo. It was stuff like that which I would not take care of and hold off until the pain was unbearable. For anyone in a similar position just please reach out for help. It is available in some form and don’t feel ashamed.”
Another Reddit commenter wrote, “My favorite thing about seeing someone get sober is how full of life their eyes look.” Isn’t that the truth?
Brittsuzanne, another Reddit user, also documented her sobriety transformation. “On January 6, 2016,” she wrote, “I put down the vodka bottle and January 11 I checked myself into rehab.” The before and after photos are pretty astonishing:
Now 35 pounds lighter, Britt says she finally feels like herself again.
For a man who goes by the name Meatteo online, his one-year sobriety anniversary called for a cheeky photo shoot. To mark the occasion and highlight his physical transformation, he posed in the same shirt he was wearing a year before, but this time, instead of holding a glass of wine, he’s holding a bottle of water.
Meatteo says he was “easily drinking 3 cases of beer and a handle of Jim Beam a week,” and “drinking almost everyday for the last 10 years.” Cutting out alcohol, eating healthier and taking up running all contributed to the dramatic changes in his appearance.
Several years ago, writer Beth Leipholtz documented her first year of sobriety in an article called “21 Lessons I Learned After One Year As A Sober 21-Year-Old.” She also included two photos of herself wearing the same dress to show the contrast between her drinking days and her current sober self. Among the lessons she learned in her sobriety journey? Drunk people are really just adult toddlers, and everything—sobriety included—becomes normal if you do it long enough.
“Bad days are never going to be nonexistent,” Leipholtz writes. “They just get easier to approach and navigate over time. And chances are your worst days sober are still a billion times better than your worst days using.”
If you’re struggling with a drinking habit or have been considering taking a hiatus from alcohol, take a cue from the people in these photos: Know you’re not alone and, while the journey will be difficult, it’s not impossible.