The benefits of quitting alcohol are numerous. Whether you’re dependent on alcohol or just an occasional drinker, giving up alcohol can improve overall health. Read on to learn about the positives of quitting alcohol and how you can get on the path to giving up drinking for good.
What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Drinking Alcohol?
Quitting alcohol benefits many parts of your body:
Changes in the skin before and after quitting alcohol can be incredible. Alcohol can lead to broken capillaries in your nose and face that give your skin a reddish tint. It can also cause a yellowish tint of the skin called jaundice, chronic inflammation, and dry skin. Plus, abusing alcohol can drop collagen levels, leaving your skin more prone to sagging, lines and wrinkles.
People who quit alcohol often sleep better. Alcohol can disrupt the body’s sleep-wake cycle, making it much more difficult to ease into a restful sleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Alcohol can also make you more prone to snoring and sleep apnea, a condition where your body temporarily stops breathing at night.
When you succeed at quitting alcohol, weight loss may follow. In addition to containing a drug, alcoholic beverages are typically highly caloric, and many have excessive amounts of sugar. When you stop drinking, you may shed pounds without doing anything else, and even just a modest amount of weight loss can improve your overall health.
Approximately 9.2 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorder and mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. Many people try to self-medicate with alcohol to ease symptoms of mental health problems. However, alcohol may worsen mental illness and prevent you from seeking treatments that work. Giving up alcohol can improve mental health, especially when you complete a rehab program that includes therapy.
Improved immunity is another of the major health benefits of quitting alcohol. Research shows that alcohol makes it harder for the immune system to fight germs. This puts people who abuse alcohol at an increased risk of colds, flu, and other infections. If you quit drinking, your immune system can reset. You may find that you get sick less frequently and that when you do get sick, you recover faster.
People who give up drinking often have better digestion afterward. Many studies have shown a link between alcohol and digestive issues. Drinking can make it hard for your body to absorb healthy nutrients. Plus, it can result in bleeding of the stomach, which gives rise to unpleasant symptoms and can lead to serious health complications.
Giving up drinking may lower blood pressure. Blood pressure levels often rise briefly when quitting alcohol but return to normal. Lowering your blood pressure can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.
People who give up drinking often have a lower risk of cancer than those who don’t. Specifically, alcohol cancer risk studies show that people with substance use disorder are more likely to develop cancer of the:
- Colon and rectum
You’ve likely heard warnings about drinking too much alcohol and the liver. Your liver plays a vital role in removing toxins from your body. Excessive alcohol use can put a strain on the organ. This is why alcohol and liver damage often go hand in hand. You can lower your risk of liver disorders like fatty liver, cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis by quitting drinking.
What Are the Side Effects of Quitting Alcohol?
When you drink alcohol for an extended period, your body adjusts to the presence of the substance. This leads to changes in how your brain and body function. If you stop drinking suddenly, your body has to readjust to the lack of alcohol rapidly, leading to side effects called withdrawal symptoms. Some withdrawal symptoms include:
- Shaky hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Racing heartbeat
- Elevated blood pressure
In severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can result in seizures, coma, or even death. However, the risk of withdrawal symptoms can be mitigated by medical interventions. Going through withdrawal in a supervised setting with medical professionals there to help can reduce your risk of severe health problems. Withdrawal symptoms don’t become life-threatening for most people, and they subside within 4 to 5 days. The long-term effects of quitting alcohol offset the risks of withdrawal.
What Is the Best Way to Quit Drinking Alcohol?
If you’re only an occasional drinker, you may be able to stop on your own. However, quitting alcohol can be very difficult if you have developed physical and mental dependence. In this case, alcohol addiction recovery usually requires professional support. The alcohol addiction recovery process begins with seeking treatment through rehab. Professionals can help control withdrawal symptoms and then work with you to help you break free of addiction, so you can experience all of the health improvements after quitting alcohol.