The Benefits Of Stopping Drinking
There are many advantages to quitting drinking alcohol once you’re ready to, from short-term improvements in blood pressure control and sleep quality to very significant longer-term health advantages that can reduce issues with your immune system, heart and circulatory systems and the digestive tract amongst others.
Once you’ve read through this article, we hope that you’ll have learnt a little bit more about some of the effects of alcohol on the body!
The following are some short and long-term benefits of quitting drinking:
The Short-Term Benefits:
- Weight Loss: Alcohol contains mostly ‘empty’ calories, which means that your body gets no nutrition from drinking whilst the drink in fact contains almost the same number of calories as pure fat!
- No More Hangovers: A bit of a no-brainer here but some people like it spelling out for them…replace your drinking and the associated tiredness, nausea, and hangovers with increased productivity.
- Mental Wellbeing: Drinking regularly and to excess interferes with chemicals within the brain which are essential for healthy mental wellbeing. You may think that the booze is helping you to relax but it significantly contributes to anxiety and depression. Quitting can help with those feelings of stress as well.
- More Energy, Better Rest: You’ll notice upon giving up drinking that your energy levels increase on top of having better sleep and getting up in the morning easier as well. Some people believe that drink helps them to sleep but the quality of rest is affected and disrupts the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage which will ultimately leave them tired the next day.
- Improved Skin: Cutting down or ideally, quitting the drink can make a massive, positive impact on your skin and appearance. Every sip of alcohol that you imbibe dehydrates your skin…every single drink! Leaving your eyes and skin looking dull and lifeless but there’s hope on the horizon, if you can give up drinking then you can give up aging (at least as quickly as the drinkers!)
The Long-Term Benefits:
Alcohol has been linked to various cancers, amongst them mouth, bowel, and breast cancer and even moderate drinking increases your chance of developing them.
Alcohol is also the cause of many other serious health problems and making a positive choice to stop drinking will decrease your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, gut problems, and sexual dysfunction.
Other long term effects alcohol can have on the body can include persistent changes in mood, increased levels of anxiety and irritability, a weakening of your immune system leading to getting sick more often, sleep issues such as insomnia, a change in sexual function and problems concentrating.
Quitting drinking is a step in the right direction to help you feel better and brighter all around and can make a massive contribution to your overall health and wellbeing.
The Physical Effects Of Alcohol On The Body
Alcohol can affect your body’s internal organs as well as your body’s processes in some of the following ways:
Central Nervous System
Alcohol can have an impact on your body both short and long-term including your central nervous system.
Once you’re intoxicated, speech and coordination can become more difficult, this is because alcohol affects the communication between your body and your brain.
Drinking over time can cause damage to your central nervous system leading to numbness and a tingling sensation in your extremities.
Excessive drinking over time can also damage the frontal lobe and because of this a drinker can expect to have difficulty in thinking coherently, controlling their emotions, creating long term memories, and losing the ability to make rational choices.
Permanent brain damage brought on by drinking could also cause Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome which is a brain condition affecting the memory.
Thiamine deficiency, although rare in most developed countries, is frequently seen in individuals who drink excessively with up to 80% of those who have an addiction to alcohol being deficient.
It’s not clear at first if you’re a drinker but alcohol consumption is extremely damaging to your gut and digestive system. The side effects often don’t materialise until after the damage has been done and continual drinking will only heighten these negative effects.
Alcohol can damage the digestive tract which will prevent you from digesting food, as well as absorbing vitamins and nutrients and heavy drinking can lead to bloating, gas, diarrhoea or painful stools, ulcers, which can get very serious without treatment and haemorrhoids caused by dehydration and constipation which can also help develop haemorrhoids.
If your body has difficulty absorbing vitamins and minerals, then this can cause fatigue and anaemia due to the low red blood cell count.
The Heart And Circulatory System
Drinking heavily over a period can affect the heart and lungs – complications of this can include:
- Heart Attack/Disease/Failure.
- High Blood Pressure.
- Irregular Heartbeat.
- Difficulty pumping blood around the body.
Avoid drinking to lower your chance of developing heart and circulatory system health problems.
Inflammation of the pancreas caused by too much drinking over time is called pancreatitis which can cause abdominal pain as digestive enzymes are released.
Your liver is a useful organ as it helps to break down as well as remove harmful substances (like alcohol) from your body.
Ingesting alcohol for a long time will interfere with your liver breaking down these harmful substances while at the same time increasing your chances of getting alcohol related liver disease.
If the toxins and waste build up enough this can be life threatening, or chronic liver inflammation which can leave your liver scarred and cause cirrhosis…this can permanently damage your liver!
Blood Sugar Levels
The pancreas also helps with regulating how your body uses insulin and its response to glucose. Without a proper functioning liver or pancreas you may experience low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia and a damaged pancreas could prevent your body from producing adequate amounts of insulin to use sugar leading to too much sugar AKA hypoglycaemia.
If your body is unable to manage blood sugar levels it can lead to greater complications from diabetes.
Muscles And Bones
Drinking alcohol can lead to muscles cramping, weakening and even possibly eventually atrophying.
Bone density can also be affected by long term drinking which could result in more breaks/fractures due to a drinker having thinner bones than a non-drinker.
Drinking alcohol to excess has been linked to an increased chance of osteoporosis and if you’re a cigarette smoker as well then this increases your chances even more so as cigarettes could change your hormones affecting the functions and such of bone cells.
There have been reports that low level drinking may be beneficial, but a lot of medical experts feel that this is a tenuous claim.
When it comes to your bone and skeletal health it’s more than worth noting that chronic alcoholism has been linked to impaired bone cell activity, low bone density (weaker bones) and bone health issues relating to metabolism.
An unhealthy relationship with booze will result in bad health overall as prolonged drinking will weaken your immune system. If your immunity is weakened then you will have a much harder time fighting off germs, diseases, and viruses.
Long term drinking could mean that you’re more likely to develop pneumonia or tuberculosis over the general population. In fact the World Health Organization has linked over 8% of tuberculosis cases to drinking.
There’s no two ways about it, alcohol isn’t safe to consume short or long term but if you feel the need to drink then here’s a few ways to reduce the risks.
- Eat first! It’s a no-brainer that if you’ve some food in your system then you won’t become intoxicated quite so quickly.
- Take your time…your liver can only process around an ounce of booze every hour so slow down! It’s not a race!
- Hydrate! Try to get at least one glass of water down for every standard glass of alcohol consumed.
This article could have been three to four times longer, but we’ve had to trim it down to make it manageable but there are many more health benefits to go alongside the multitude that we’ve already gone over today.
Hopefully we’ve given you a little bit of insight into some of the short and long-term benefits that you can expect when you give up drinking for good.
If you or a friend or loved one are considering ditching the drink and would like more information, articles, blogs and advice to help keep you even keeled on your personal sober journey then please take the time for yourself and look over our resources available at Sober Bubble.