We all know how dangerous alcohol is. Many of us and the people we care about have been severely impacted and even destroyed by excessive drinking. Alcohol kills 88,000 people a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also destroys families, financial health, dignity and quality of life. That’s why quitting alcohol might be right for you.
On top of saving lives, there are wonderful everyday health and quality of life benefits that come with quitting alcohol. Instead of approaching sobriety from a position of despair, let’s talk about how it can actually improve our lives.
Very often, particularly around this time of year, there’s a tendency to view giving up alcohol as a chore. Quitting alcohol is something many of us may dread but we tell ourselves that we must do. Understanding the health benefits of quitting alcohol can put things in perspective and make the challenge that much more appealing.
Here are just a few of the amazing and wonderful things that can happen after quitting alcohol.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you quit alcohol is the improvement of your sleep patterns. One to two weeks after you give up the sauce, you’ll notice deeper and more prolonged REM sleep.
While trouble sleeping is often part of the alcohol withdrawal process, these symptoms are temporary and can be managed with medically supervised detox and other means. Withdrawal generally affects people with serious prolonged and untreated alcohol use disorder.
What the Heart Wants
The cardiac benefits of giving up alcohol are almost too many list. Cutting back or quitting drinking can lower your blood pressure, levels of fat, and chances of heart failure.
Some moderate drinkers might say a little bit of alcohol each day can improve heart health. However, if you’re wrestling with the decision to quit drinking, you’ve probably passed that point.
Too much alcohol can enlarge the heart and weaken the muscle. It can also lead to irregular heartbeat, plaque, and increase the risk of a heart attack over time.
Live and Let Liver
What exactly does the liver do? The liver filters the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. It also makes proteins essential for blood clotting and other functions.
It’s estimated that one after you quit drinking, your liver fat reduces by about 15 percent. This is also the point at which many start to notice a reduction in belly fat.
While it may seem like your drinking has drowned your liver for good, this organ can repair and even regenerate itself. One year after quitting drinking, the risk of liver and other types of cancer (such as mouth and breast) is significantly reduced, as well.
A Lot (of Weight) to Lose
Those who have gained weight from drinking may notice significant weight loss after about eight months of dry living. It’s important to realize, however, that everyone’s metabolism and physiology is different. Quitting alcohol alone may not help you shed belly fat.
One thing is for certain, however. The more you drink, the more likely you are to keep the weight on. Quitting excessive drinking should be part of any applicable weight loss regimen. Quitting alcohol also both directly and indirectly decreases the risk of diabetes and high blood sugar.
Or at least you will be. A byproduct of alcohol metabolization is dehydration not only your body, but your skin too. Quitting alcohol can give way to younger-looking, supple skin and mitigate rashes and other types of breakouts.
Common skin conditions associated with excessive alcohol consumption include, but are not limited to dandruff, eczema, and rosacea. It can be tough enough to get rid of these conditions without worrying about alcohol making things worse.
Overcoming these conditions can also decrease social anxiety, increase confidence and help people become more outgoing.
And Speaking of Your Social Life…
Don’t let the bar scene fool you. Reducing your alcohol consumption can actually help you improve and strengthen your relationships with your friends, family and romantic partners. It clears your head and allows you to be present and engaged with the people you care about.
Most of us have either had or been the friend in a relationship where alcohol comes before anything and anyone. Don’t be that person anymore.
You don’t have to preach when sharing about your sobriety with friends who drink. Just learn to internalize the words “No, thanks.”
Cashing in on the Benefits
Most of us might not be able to recognize what’s good for us until we see it reflected in our bank account. Quitting alcohol, can save you thousands of dollars in bar tabs, six-packs and, for some, legal fees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend about 1 percent of their gross annual income on alcohol. For the average household, that’s $565 a year.
This includes people who will drink on occasion or buy something for their in-laws’ once-a-year visit. When you factor in more frequent and extreme drinking, this figure skyrockets.
The Rest of It
Giving up alcohol can help us in a number of different ways. We can develop new hobbies, pay closer attention to our overall health, and focus on stability in our everyday lives.
Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you or your loved one start to experience the benefits of quitting alcohol. If you need help for your excessive drinking, we’re here to offer effective, music-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder. Call us now.