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Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

7 minute read

7 Main Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Whether you’re occasionally overdoing it or you frequently abuse alcohol, the benefits of quitting alcohol far outweigh whatever you think you’re gaining from it. Most people in recovery will tell you their lives are now abundantly better than when they were drinking or using drugs. They’re clearer, more present, healthier, happier people, and they’re enjoying life more.

The alcohol guidelines for American adults assert that if or when you’re drinking, you should drink no more than one drink if you’re a woman and two drinks if you’re a man. If you’re drinking more than that, it’s time to take a closer look at your drinking patterns and consider changing them or stopping altogether.

Not drinking may sound like no fun to people teetering on the edge of alcoholism. It may sound downright impossible for those who have a substance use disorder. But quitting drinking is possible, and the benefits to your body when you stop drinking are vast.

1. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – Improved Mood

Some people drink alcohol because they feel like it makes them less stressed, happier, and less inhibited in conversations and behaviors. While you may feel these desirable effects of alcohol temporarily when you drink, they quickly wear off. Plus, they can contribute to the same things you’re trying to drink away in the long run, like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Low mood

Alcohol significantly impacts your brain. It works on your brain’s reward system and the

chemicals that are responsible for:

  • Mood
  • Motivation
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Movement

Even after drinking moderately, it takes your brain a day or more to rebalance those chemicals. During that time, you may feel a little more tired, cranky, or have a lower energy level or mood than normal. You may also experience changes in sleep quality. If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, these effects are even greater. In addition to a hangover, you might feel:

  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Out of sorts
  • Shaky
  • Agitated

If you’re a heavy alcohol drinker, over time your brain’s reward center starts relying on alcohol to produce even normal levels of certain feel-good brain chemicals. These chemicals get depleted eventually. When this happens, you can experience ongoing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

A benefit of quitting drinking is that your brain will heal itself without alcohol. Eventually, your brain chemicals will rebalance. Your central nervous system will go back to optimal functioning without alcohol, and you won’t experience the highs and lows that come with drinking regularly.

2. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – Longer Life

Drinking alcohol comes with several health risks that can shorten your life. One of the most important benefits of quitting drinking is a healthier body. Drinking alcohol strains most of your vital organs and increases your risk of cancer and cardiovascular events. Heavy drinkers are at risk for several health conditions, such as:

  • Liver disease
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Liver damage
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attack
  • Heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Stroke
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Liver cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Upper respiratory tract cancers
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Colon and rectum cancer
  • Esophageal cancer

All of this sounds painful, but, more importantly, it’s dangerous. Over time, drinking can cause organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart to shut down. By quitting drinking, you’re stopping the damage that excessive drinking does to your body. Once you stop drinking, your liver gets a much-needed rest from processing alcohol, which is poison to it.

3. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – More Smarts

Alcohol abuse can:

  • Decrease your brain’s gray matter
  • Affect your short- and long-term memory
  • Interfere with learning
  • Cause confusion
  • Affect problem-solving and impulse control

Giving up alcohol helps your memory stay sharp and your mind become clearer. Alcohol depletes essential vitamins, such as vitamins B6 and A, which are essential for brain health and other important functions. When you stop drinking alcohol, you also stop depleting these vitamins.

Most people who drink excessively can note times their memory has “blacked out.” This happens because alcohol impairs the parts of the brain that are responsible for forming memories. Over time your brain can repair some of the damage done by alcohol addiction or drug addiction. The sooner you quit, the less long-term damage you do.

4. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – Higher Quality of Sleep

When you quit drinking alcohol, you’ll enjoy more restorative sleep. Having more than a couple drinks can dramatically disturb your sleep cycle by causing negative effects like:

  • Preventing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – Dreams occur in REM sleep, and it’s when you consolidate memories.
  • Disrupting breathing by promoting snoring
  • Causing frequent bathroom trips at night

When you quit alcohol, these issues should clear up. Because you’re getting more restful sleep, you may feel more energized, mentally sharp, and motivated. Plus, sleep is essential for physical health. Getting enough sleep supports heart and brain health, so it can improve a number of functions.

5. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – Improved Appearance

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism affects your appearance. When you quit drinking, you will not only feel better, but you’ll look better. Some benefits of quitting drinking include:

Better Skin

When people quit drinking, improved skin is one of the first things many notice. Alcohol can wreak havoc on your skin because it’s a diuretic, which means it dehydrates your body. Your skin needs water to look and feel its best. Alcohol fuels wrinkles, acne, bags under your eyes, and ashy skin shades.

Alcohol can also make your pores larger. This can lead to inflamed skin, whiteheads and blackheads. When you quit drinking, you can rehydrate your body, and it shows in the appearance of your skin. Your body is also better able to absorb nutrients that promote good skin.

Healthier Weight

Quitting alcohol can help you lose weight. Excessive alcohol intake has a proven link with weight gain. Most alcoholic beverages have a high calorie count because of ingredients such as processed sugars. Even alcoholic beverages without added sugar can still cause weight gain. Alcoholic beverages are often referred to as “empty calories.” That’s because alcohol itself is high in calories, and it promotes hunger. Some people engage in binge eating when intoxicated. Typical binge foods aren’t usually healthy foods, so avoiding binges is another benefit to your overall health.

Consuming alcohol before or after meals can cause you to eat more calories. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption, as well as overeating when drinking alcohol can lead to gaining a significant amount of weight. People with alcohol use disorders may also have a lifestyle that promotes weight gain, like not exercising regularly and eating meals that are caloric and processed instead of seeking out fresh, nutritious food.

Better Hair

When drinking alcohol is your priority, getting proper nutrients falls by the wayside. Poor nutrition can lead to thinning hair and hair loss. People who are addicted to alcohol often have brittle, thin hair.

6. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – More Money

Instead of spending money on alcohol whenever you go out and to stock your refrigerator, think of the money you’ll save. Here’s one example: If you have 3 or 4 drinks every time you go out, and you go out Friday and Saturday night most weeks, that’s around $32 a night, or $64 a week. This adds up to around $3,328 a year. This doesn’t even take into account the money you spend on alcohol for your home.

Quitting drinking can save you thousands of dollars every year. If you find it hard to believe how much you’ll save, try quitting drinking for just one month and see how your bank account likes it.

7. Benefit of Quitting Alcohol – Better Relationships

Research has shown that, in general, drinking can have a detrimental effect on relationships. For instance, if you frequently drink in excess, friends and family often shoulder responsibilities like taking care of you when you’re sick or if you get in trouble. Plus, not everyone is on their best behavior while drinking. You may become angry or impulsive, which might have caused some friends or family to pull away from you over time. When you stop drinking alcohol, you’re likely to see your relationships improve, and you’ll have the chance to build them even stronger.

What Happens When You Quit Drinking?

Although there are many benefits to quitting drinking, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms after you stop. These symptoms can last for a couple days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse and individual health.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Change of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Alcohol cravings

For people who regularly drink excessively, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. Alcohol dependence increases the risk of seizures and a condition called delirium tremens (DTs). If DTs happen, it’s usually a couple days after your last drink. It can dangerously affect body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure and cause confusion and loss of consciousness.

Because of the possibility of dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you should always detox from alcohol under medical supervision. In medical alcohol detox, you’ll have 24/7 care and support to keep you safe and comfortable as you begin recovering from alcohol abuse.

Whether you drink in moderation or engage in binge drinking and heavy drinking, quitting alcohol can truly change your quality of life. The benefits of stopping alcohol are long-lasting and remarkable. Your brain, body, and those around you will notice the improvements. If you’re ready to stop drinking, we can help. Call Footprints to Recovery for a free, confidential consultation. We have helped thousands of people overcome substance abuse. We can help you too.

References

  1. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/resources/2020-2025-dietary-guidelines-online-materials
  2. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm
  3. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/adults-booze-bedwetting-heres-happens/#:~:text=Drinking%20alcohol%20suppresses%20ADH%20production,Ulchaker%20says.
  4. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3544907/
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28735-5
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800062/
  8. https://addictions.psych.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/160/2018/01/EB-Binge-Eating-and-Binge-Drinking-an-Integrative-Review.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338356/
  10. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm
David Szarka
Medically Reviewed by David Szarka, MA, LCADC
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