For many, quitting alcohol was the best decision in their lives. People who stop drinking alcohol experience positive changes practically immediately, especially if they have often engaged in heavy drinking.
Indeed, most people don’t make a serious effort to fight their addictions until they see something they value is threatened. And while not every case of alcohol abuse leads to alcohol dependence, once your drinking habits start affecting the most significant aspects of your life, quitting is the only reasonable thing to do.
The most obvious advantages of giving up alcohol involve the positive effects it has on physical and mental health. However, there are also other unexpected benefits of quitting alcohol many people don’t realize until they begin their journey toward sobriety.
Here’s how quitting drinking can improve your life.
Most people don’t realize how many calories there are in alcohol. A vodka martini, for example, has about 130 calories. That might not seem like much, but if you have three every night, that comes to about 2730 extra calories a week, which is more than a whole day’s worth of calories for most people. That can put on weight pretty quickly, especially since more drinking usually correlates with less exercise.
And it’s not just the calories you have to watch out for. Excessive drinking, especially drinking beer, reduces the ratio of testosterone to estrogen in the body. That hormonal change makes it harder to lose fat and gain muscle. People are often surprised by how easily they achieve a healthier weight after they quit drinking.
Lower Cancer Risk
We typically think of cancer as a remote possibility, something that mostly happens to other people. It’s not usually scary enough to motivate someone to stop drinking. Well, what if we told you that quitting alcohol can reduce your risk of cancer?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing specific types of cancer, especially those of the digestive tract, such as:
- mouth cancer,
- esophagus cancer,
- stomach cancer,
- throat cancer,
- and colon cancer.
It has also been linked to liver cancer, where alcohol is processed into toxic intermediate products. Because of the hormonal imbalance mentioned above, heavy drinking can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer too.
Improved Memory and Cognitive Function
Even moderate alcohol consumption is linked with a negative impact on brain functioning, especially the parts responsible for learning and cognition. That’s because alcohol disrupts transfers from short-term memory to long-term, which is the reason for alcohol-associated blackouts.
And the more alcohol one consumes, the more severe the memory lapses become. By removing alcohol from the equation, you will allow your brain to recover, improving your memory and cognitive function. However, it’s not an immediate process. If you abuse alcohol, your brain may need as long as several months to correct the structural changes caused by drinking.
Contrary to what some people believe, drinking alcoholic beverages doesn’t help with sleep. On the contrary, it can actually negatively impact your sleep quality. That’s because alcohol interferes with the sleep cycle, having the most destructive effect on REM sleep, which is the deepest and most valuable part of one’s sleep cycle.
People who drink heavily or often engage in binge drinking usually experience constant sleep issues, which can lead to serious health risks, both mental (e.g., anxiety and depression) and physical (e.g., obesity and high blood pressure). By quitting drinking, you can improve your sleep quality, resulting in better overall health, higher productivity and energy levels, and improved concentration.
Alcohol depletes your body of vital nutrients and prevents your intestines from absorbing them properly. Furthermore, many people who abuse alcohol or develop alcohol use disorder tend to skip their meals, eating fewer foods vital for providing their bodies with protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
This, in turn, can lead to much lower energy levels and the constant feeling of drowsiness and malnourishment. Quitting alcohol will help your intestines heal, restoring your appropriate vitamin levels, increasing your energy, and improving your mood.
Are you familiar with the phrase “alcoholic face?” Probably yes. It’s used to describe the damage alcohol does to one’s skin, such as dry skin, inflammation, saggy skin, or broken capillaries of the face and nose. What are the reasons for such changes?
In short, alcohol suppresses the body’s production of vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone. That’s why you lose a lot of water when you drink. Your body gets rid of a lot of water that it actually needs to function properly. That includes dehydrating your skin, which makes you look older. For some people, drinking also causes acne, red splotches, and worsens eczema. The skin usually clears up pretty quickly after you stop drinking.
Having More Money
Have you ever considered how much money you spend on alcohol? We dare you to try. Of course, as addictions go, alcohol isn’t the most expensive, but it can add up, especially if you drink in bars or clubs.
Think about it, if your average night out with friends costs $50 and you tend to drink during the week as well, regular heavy drinking might cost as little as 100 dollars a week. Of course, it will also depend on what you drink, but once you start summing up all your alcohol-related costs, it’s likely to cost many times that.
If you quit alcohol, you will be able to save money and put your funds elsewhere, such as a new hobby or dream vacation. No matter how you decide to allocate your saved money, you can guarantee it will be spent better than before.
A hangover is a natural body reaction to alcohol withdrawal. But have you ever thought what it would be like to wake up without it?
This one seems obvious, but many people don’t realize until they quit how long it’s been since they woke up without a hangover. They had been so used to waking up feeling terrible they forgot the feeling wasn’t normal.
Waking up without a hangover has the added benefit of allowing you to sleep better. Alcohol makes sleep more shallow and less restful. Again, most people are aware of this because they wake up sweating, nauseated, or having to go to the bathroom, but actually experiencing a few nights of restful sleep has almost immediate effects on mood, willpower, focus, and memory.
A New, Exciting Life
For many people addicted to alcohol, drinking becomes the main thing they do in their spare time. It passes the hours when there is nothing better to do. Another way to put this is that drinking wastes a lot of time. It’s a way of avoiding boredom, but boredom is good when it inspires us to try new things. If drinking is always your solution to boredom, you never have a reason to try something new.
Many people pick up new hobbies or renew old hobbies once they quit drinking. Some travel more, whereas others put their money into self-growth. Going sober will also improve your productivity and energy levels, allowing you to explore new opportunities and rebuild your social and family life. In other words, quitting alcohol opens the door to a new and exciting chapter of your life.
Perhaps the most important benefit of quitting alcohol is increased self-awareness. Most people develop an addiction to alcohol as a way of avoiding certain thoughts and feelings. Maybe you don’t want to feel the anxiety of talking to people at a party, or maybe you don’t want the intrusive memories from some traumatic event.
Alcohol will certainly suppress those, but it also suppresses everything else. It makes it harder to be aware of your needs, thoughts, and desires. You go through life on autopilot, feeling less pain but also less pleasure. The pain is what makes quitting hard. It usually requires therapy and time to learn to manage those painful thoughts and emotions, but in exchange, you get to feel alive again. You get to feel like you’re participating in your own life.
When to Seek Help?
Despite its numerous benefits, many of which are well-known among drinkers, quitting alcohol is never easy, especially if you develop alcohol dependence. Once you cross that line that separates average drinking from substance abuse, the only solution is to seek professional help.
When to decide it’s the right time to go to rehab? Look out for the following symptoms:
- you start to notice alcohol affects your family and social life;
- your drinking interferes with your chores and work;
- you experience strong alcohol withdrawal symptoms and strong alcohol cravings;
- your tolerance to alcohol has increased;
- you drink excessively, often engaging in binge drinking;
- you experience constant mood swings;
- you start putting yourself in risky situations when drinking (e.g., driving under the influence).
Once you start noticing such behaviours, it means now is the time to find help. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with going to rehab. Unfortunately, there’s still some stigma around this topic, which is why many people fear going to a rehab center.
Start Your Alcohol-Free Life Today
Perhaps none of these benefits are enough on their own to convince you to quit drinking, but together, they make life much better. Whatever your reasons for quitting, you can expect some unexpected benefits.
And if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction or mental illness, The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab can help.
We are one of Thailand’s most respected addiction treatment and wellness centers. We use cutting-edge treatment modalities to provide personalized care to treat addiction, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, PTSD, and executive burnout.
The road to alcohol recovery is never simple, but you don’t have to take it alone. Start your alcohol-free chapter with The Dawn and live a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Contact us today to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs.