We all know alcohol isn’t exactly good for you. Heavy drinkers and alcoholics suffer mental, emotional and physical decline that is blatantly obvious. Heavy alcohol use can cause heart problems, liver problems, high blood pressure, cancer, and a host of other ailments. The obvious answer is to cut out the alcohol. But what really happens to you when you stop drinking? Do these ailments clear up? How long does it take to feel better?
Those of us who need to stop drinking often cringe at the thought of withdrawal. True, the symptoms can be scary. But, with help and a little knowledge, they can be handled. Medical detox is most wise, as a long-time drinker can shock their system if they go cold turkey. Happily, though, these symptoms are temporary as our bodies readjust to a healthier way of operating. The systems that were forced to overcompensate in the presence of alcohol can now return to normal.
While every body is different and will adjust to a new lifestyle in its own way, here are some general observations of those who quit alcohol.
Health Benefits of Quitting Alcohol
A Calmer Mind
Alcohol is a depressant. It starts a vicious cycle. The euphoria that first comes with a drink or two is short-lived. Alcohol then starts showing it’s real face, causing depression. Often people drink to get relief from depression, but they are really making the situation worse. Heavy and prolonged alcohol abuse can also negatively impact the amygdala, a tiny part of the brain that regulates stress. When the amygdala is overactive, someone is stuck in the fight or flight reflex, even when there is no danger. This is the familiar ever-present anxiety that accompanies most alcoholics. The brain can begin to heal when relieved of the need for alcohol. Many report a calmer mind and much less stress when sober.
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Alcohol can harm capillaries on the face, cause dehydration, inflammation, and even jaundice. The body can gradually restore these for a healthy glowing complexion with time.
Elasticity returns, the skin is hydrated and yellowing fades. Sobriety is a great beauty treatment!
A Healthier Heart
Alcohol increases the likelihood of a cardiovascular event and also cardiovascular disease. Quit drinking and your heart will thank you.
Sleep More Soundly
Alcohol disrupts the normal sleep cycle, causing us to wake in the middle of the night. Relaxed muscles in the throat can lead to snoring and sleep apnea, which also disrupts deep sleep. Take the alcohol away, and the body returns to a normal sleep pattern.
Return to Optimal Body Weight
Alcohol is laden with calories and stuffed full of sugar. Remove it and the endocrine system stops over-producing insulin to counteract high levels of sugar. This can lead to a healthier weight
Because alcohol makes it harder for the body to make white blood cells, chronic alcohol users report a higher number of colds, flus and illnesses. When you give up drinking, these ailments occur far less often.
Alcoholics can become malnourished. Excess alcohol consumption can cause digestive problems, which block absorption of nutrients. This is made worse by unhealthy eating habits that often come with heavy drinking. Take the alcohol away, and the body has access to the nutrients it needs.
Lower Cancer Risk
Alcohol can cause cancer. The more alcohol consumed, the higher the risk. Common types of cancer caused by alcohol are:
- Laryngeal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Oral cancer
- Throat cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Colon cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Drinking shrinks the hippocampus in the brain. This is the part of the brain that helps with learning and memory. Ceasing alcohol consumption has been proven to help with memory, attention and cognitive processes.
So we see that quitting drinking can be a boon for the body and mind. But this isn’t the end of the path. Relationships can be healed. Finances and career can benefit as well. The list of things that get better with sobriety goes on and on. Most of us on this path needed help to get started, so don’t be ashamed to reach out. Medical detox can ease those first days immensely and keep you or your loved ones safe. Call Ventura Recovery Center for a Confidential Consultation. (800) 247-6111.