What happens when you quit drinking? If you’ve been thinking of quitting drinking, now’s the time. Here are 15 benefits of not drinking alcohol.
Drinking alcohol is fun for a few years until the constant hangovers take hold. The benefits of quitting FAR outweigh the benefits of drinking.
Quitting alcohol can feel impossible. It’s especially difficult for those who are addicted to it. Oftentimes, alcoholics feel as if, for them, there is no life without booze. Despite all of the negative side effects it has on their life, they continue to drink.
Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in the prison of alcoholism. As the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism tells us, more than 15 million Americans are hooked on the drug. Luckily, however, quitting is possible. Despite the fact that sobriety seems a million miles away, it only takes a few steps. And, the benefits are amazing. By not drinking alcohol, people are able to improve their lives in all kinds of ways.
Here are just some of the benefits of quitting.
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#1 When You Quit Drinking Alcohol, You Feel Much Better
Alcohol isn’t a healthy substance. People tend to forget that. Sure, there is evidence that one or two drinks can prevent certain illnesses. However, chronic and binge drinking is downright dangerous.
When someone drinks excessively, their body is required to work overtime to process the drug. The liver goes into overdrive to metabolize it. The brain goes haywire as it tries to calibrate itself. The heart and lungs pump at irregular speeds.
It’s not how the body is intended to work.
People who don’t drink, on the other hand, tend to be much healthier. They aren’t prone to alcohol’s effects on the body. Because the body is freed from processing toxic chemicals, it can focus its energy on other things. As a result, the mind and body are able to function at optimum levels.
The Mental Health Benefits of Giving Up Drinking
Drinking isn’t always good for mental health. In moderation, it can help to relieve stress. In excess, however, it often causes people to make choices they regret.
One side effect of these choices is the “moral hangover”. As Theo Brenner-Roach recently wrote for The Observer, “Alcohol inhibits the ability to make decisions, often leading to undesirable and regrettable behavior.”
So, drinking is often accompanied by shame and guilt. Describing moral hangovers, the author writes, “You find yourself analyzing the events of the night before with your emotions swinging from discomfort to shame and remorse.”
Over time, this can take a toll on a person’s mental health. One of the greatest benefits to quitting drinking, therefore, is the elimination of guilt. Of course, even sober people do things that they regret. But, without alcohol in the picture, those events are likely to happen less and less.
I Just Quit Drinking…How Long Does It Take to Feel Better?
The timeline varies from person-to-person. Physically, people should start to feel better within the first few weeks after they quit. Alcohol doesn’t stay in the body for very long. Even long-term alcoholics can detox within a week or so. If they eat healthily and exercise, they should start to feel better quite quickly.
But, drinking also has emotional side effects. These aren’t always easy to fix. If an alcoholic has a co-occurring disorder like anxiety, for example, their condition will still be there after they quit drinking. However, the elimination of booze can help them get to a place of stability. If they consult a doctor for help and commit to sobriety, their mental state should improve.
#2 You’ll Look Younger If You Quit
Alcohol tends to make people look older. It’s quite bad for the skin. It’s a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates the body. Without proper hydration, the skin dries out and becomes less elastic.
It also causes body tissue inflammation. This is why we see some people get flush in the face when they drink. That red flushness is their skin becoming inflamed. Of course, the redness usually goes away once they alcohol leaves their system. But over time, constant inflammation will damage their skin.
Additionally, research suggests that drinking actually ages the body’s cells. It reduces the lifespan of the cells in the heart, liver, skin, and other organs. If someone’s body is too unhealthy to produce new cells, the aging process becomes apparent. Their skin and other organs will start to deteriorate much faster.
What Does an Alcoholic Face Look Like?
Every drinker is different. Some are lucky enough to have good genes, so booze might not have drastic effects on their skin.
In most people, however, alcohol lowers collagen levels. Collagen is a protein that connects the skin cells and strengthens the tissue. When it breaks down, the skin becomes loose and saggy.
Additionally, alcoholism may cause jaundice. The symptoms of jaundice include yellow skin and yellowish eyes.
This condition occurs when the liver is too weak to process toxins adequately. If the liver can’t filter out toxins, some toxins are sent into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. When these toxins make it to the skin and eyes, both start to take on a yellowish color.
All in all, those who want the healthiest skin possible should avoid alcohol.
#3 Sobriety Saves You Money
The benefits of alcohol detox treatment aren’t just physical. It can have financial benefits, as well.
After all, as anyone who drinks knows, the cost of alcohol can add up. By themselves, a few beers or a bottle of wine is only a few bucks. But, when someone drinks daily, or even weekly, the costs compound over time.
Not to mention, poor financial decisions often accompany drinking. If any legal issues, such as a DUI, occur, they’re going to cost a lot.
Best Alcohol for Your Money? None!
The National Institute of Health has a great alcohol spending calculator on their website. This tool is designed to help drinkers calculate the amount of money they spend on booze. Just plug in the average cost of each drink, the average number of drinks consumed, and the number of days.
Anyone who drinks regularly will be shocked at the amount of cash they spend on alcohol. Those $5 mixed drinks at the bar, for example, can add up over time. Even if someone goes to the bar once just a week and has only two of them, they end up spending more than $500 per year! That $500 could go toward much better things!
Former alcoholics usually find that their wallets are much thicker once they quit. Even casual drinkers, however, can reap the benefits of quitting, too!
#4 When You’re Not Drunk, You Can Connect with People
Many people become isolated by their drinking problem. The condition causes folks to feel guilty, ashamed, and alone. Blinded by the booze, they often forget that there are people in the world who love them and want to connect with them.
In his article “Addiction as a Disease of Isolation”, published on PsychologyToday.com, Dr. Shahram Heshmat suggests that addiction stems from a lack of connection. Drugs and alcohol, he writes, give addicts a sense of stability. Whenever they want to feel connected, they can use their favorite drug. Booze, after all, can’t judge anyone. It offers a kind of safety to alcoholics.”
“Avoidant individuals, who attempt to detach themselves from psychological distress, can use alcohol and drugs as a means of avoiding painful emotions and self-awareness,” Dr. Heshmat says.
Of course, the connection between an addict and their drug of choice is not real. It’s not healthy, either. Everyone craves personal, human connection. Sobriety offers that. One of the biggest benefits of not drinking alcohol is that the safety of drunkenness is removed, forcing people to form real connections with those around them.
Alcoholics Anonymous: A Place for Addicts to Connect
Because alcoholism is so isolating, many former addicts have a hard time during the early days of sobriety. With their crutch pulled out from underneath them, former alcoholics are forced to confront their reality. This can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for newly sober people. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the best. This organization was formed to give alcoholics a place to connect with each other. The group holds meetings in nearly every town in America on a daily basis.
AA is based around the idea that compassion is the key to sobriety. In order to avoid a relapse, alcoholics must learn to accept themselves and others. In “The Program”, addicts spend time connecting with others and interacting without judgment. For that reason, it helps a lot of people get sober.
Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t right for everyone. For whatever reason, some alcoholics find that they do better without it. However, for those folks who benefit from it, AA opens up a world of friendship and gives them a new lease on life.
#5 You Can Lose Weight When You Give Up the Drinking
Alcohol is very high in calories. And, the calories in alcohol are empty. The body processes and stores alcohol as sugar, which eventually converts to fat. People who drink excessively usually carry more weight around than those who abstain.
In fact, research shows that excessive alcohol consumption is closely tied to obesity. The more a person drinks, the more likely it is that they’ll gain extra weight.
Of course, some folks have faster metabolisms than other people. So, there is no direct correlation between someone’s weight and the amount of alcohol they consume. A person’s drink of choice can affect their weight, as well, because some drinks have higher sugar content.
But, if a person is looking to lose some weight, they should start by not drinking. Weight loss is a great benefit of giving up alcohol.
How Long After I Quit Drinking Alcohol will I Lose Weight?
The exact weight loss timeline varies from person to person. Some people process sugar and burn calories faster than others.
Quitting beer, wine or liquor can be a great way to shed some pounds. However, if someone really wants to lose weight, they should adopt a healthy diet and get some exercise, too. After putting the booze aside, this is the best way to lose weight rapidly.
One of the best benefits of quitting drinking is that the desire for carbohydrates diminishes. It’s common, after all, for people to reach out for high-carb foods to cure a hangover. This is because the comedown from a carb-rush causes blood sugar to drop, which triggers the brain to crave more carbohydrates.
So, if a person is able to avoid high-carb foods in addition to abstaining from alcohol, they’ll see faster weight loss results.
#6 Put Down the Bottle, Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack
Drinking can be very bad for the heart and the pulmonary system. Particularly in people who are prone to pulmonary conditions, habitual drinking can increase the risk of heart disease. One of the best health benefits of not drinking is the reduction of this risk.
There are 5 million Americans who suffer from heart failure. According to Dr. Luc Djoussee and Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, more than 500,000 people are diagnosed with it each year. In their review entitled “Alcohol Consumption and Heart Failure”, the two doctors state that the risk of heart failure was nearly twice as high in heavy drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week).
One of the greatest benefits of quitting alcohol, therefore, is a healthier heart and a longer life.
Why is Alcohol so Bad for the Heart?
The problem with drinking is that it increases the amount of fat in the bloodstream. Specifically, it raises the number of triglycerides. This can result in higher cholesterol levels.
Fatty blood is bad for the heart. Essentially, it slows down the speed at which blood moves through the body. This requires the heart to work extra hard to pump blood. Over time, high cholesterol may result in heart failure and a number of other conditions.
The American Heart Association says that, in order to maintain a healthy heart, men should drink no more than two drinks per day. They say that women should have no more than one.
#7 You Can Pick Up an Old Hobby (Or Take Up a New One)
Drinking takes up a lot of time. Partying, of course, is time-consuming by itself. But, add on all the time it takes to get alcohol and tack on recovery time and, well, it adds up.
In fact, it’s so time-consuming that a lot of newly sober people have difficulty occupying their time. They just don’t know what to do when they don’t have to think about drinking.
But, finding a new hobby is important for staying sober. Some former alcoholics turn to exercise. Others focus on music. Some people prefer to fish, read, or garden. It’s not important what the hobby is, as long as it gives the addict something to occupy their mind. As one anonymous author writes, “Boredom is counterproductive to sobriety.”
Those who already love an activity, of course, will be thrilled to reap the benefits of not drinking. They’ll have much more time and energy to focus on doing the thing they love without being interrupted by booze and hangovers.
Whoever said “Quitters never win” didn’t have the chance to enjoy the benefits of giving up alcohol.
#8 If You Abstain from Alcohol, You Can Heal Your Liver
Drinking beer, wine, or liquor is bad for the liver. After all, the human body isn’t built to process alcohol. When someone consumes large amounts of booze, even just a few times, their liver must work extra hard to process it all. Over time, the liver gets exhausted.
In extreme cases, alcoholics may develop liver disorders such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or fatty liver syndrome. As was pointed out above, these conditions can result in both internal and external damage to the body.
Fortunately, the liver is a regenerative organ. This means that it can repair itself when it’s given the time to do so. In order to prevent it from getting worse, then, heavy drinkers should stop drinking and give their liver some time to recover.
What Happens to Your Liver When You Stop Drinking?
The liver constantly works to regenerate itself. It generates new cells with the intention of fixing any problems that pop up. It’s one of the human body’s most important organs, after all, so it’s crucial that it stays in good shape.
Alcohol, however, throws a wrench into the regeneration system. When the liver is soaked in booze, it has a more difficult time producing new cells. Over time, it may start to deteriorate.
When someone gives up alcohol, their liver starts to flush out all of the leftover byproducts that were produced over time. This process can take several weeks under normal circumstances. In extreme cases, it can take a few years. After the byproducts have been flushed out, it returns to its normal functions.
Unfortunately, some liver damage is irreparable. In most cases, though, people who quit drinking will feel the benefits within a few months.
#9 When You’re Sober, You Can Right the Wrongs of the Past
Everyone on Earth has done things that they regret. But, hard drinkers tend to do more regrettable things. One of the greatest benefits of quitting is having the chance to apologize and to make up for those things.
In many cases, an alcoholic may have acted in a way that caused their family or friends to distance themselves. But, once the person quits drinking, they have tangible proof that they’re taking steps toward being a better person. As long as they stay sober, at least some of the people around them will grant forgiveness.
Making Amends: The Notorious Ninth Step
An important part of the 12 Steps is making amends. During Step 8, alcoholics are required to make a list of all the people who they’ve harmed or done wrong in some way. For Step 9, they’re expected to make amends with the people on their list.
Members of The Program are quick to differentiate between apologizing and making amends. Amends, after all, are not always words. In certain cases, like when an alcoholic has stolen money to buy drinks or crashed someone else’s car, they are supposed to compensate the person for the damage. Even if the alcoholic can’t pay in full, making amends is about taking steps to repair the relationship.
“Anyone can make a mistake and run. It takes a special kind of person to make a mistake, admit to it, and face the pain and trouble that comes with making amends.”
~ Anonymous AA member
One of the greatest benefits of quitting drinking is being able to start fresh. However, if there are still ghosts in the past, it’s hard to move toward the future. Sobriety gives people the opportunity to right their wrongs in order to start over.
#10 No Alcohol Means Better Sleep
Most people don’t realize how much drinking affects their sleep habits. But, it does.
According to the Sleep Foundation, alcohol triggers activity in the brain referred to as “delta activity”. Delta activity is a type of deep sleep that helps with learning and memory restoration.
But, alcohol also triggers another type of activity at the same time. This type, called “alpha activity”, is one that usually only occurs when someone is awake. So, these two types of brain activity have opposite effects. When they both happen at the same time, the individual is unable to enter into a deep sleep cycle. Thus, they don’t rest very well.
This may seem strange due to the fact that alcohol makes people sleepy. After all, it is a depressant. However, a drunk person’s sleep quality is not as good as that of a sober person. Once someone quits alcohol, they’ll reap far more benefits from their sleep.
But I Quit Drinking and I Can’t Sleep At All…Why?
Some folks find that they’re unable to sleep once they get sober. Certain people have trouble getting to sleep for the first few days. Others experience long-term insomnia that lasts months.
Well, alcohol withdrawal has a lot of side effects. One of these side effects is anxiety. Usually, anxious thoughts are at the heart of insomnia. The alcoholic, nervous about their future as a sober person, stays up late and allows their mind to race. If they’re committed to sobriety, they won’t drink even if it might help them sleep.
There aren’t too many solutions to this problem aside from therapy and natural supplements. Or, as Dr. Rubin Naiman suggests, quitting caffeine. Eventually, however, the individual will settle into their post-alcoholic life and get some sleep.
#11 When You Quit Alcohol, You Can Make Your Dreams Come True
It may sound corny, but it’s true: sobriety offers alcoholics a second chance at life. Without the constant burdens of exhaustion, hangovers, and illness, recovered drinkers have much more time to focus on their goals.
Of course, these goals are different for everyone. Certain people want to go to college. Others want to write books. Some alcoholics simply dream of being decent parents.
Whatever a person’s goals are, the best way to achieve them is to eliminate alcohol. It opens up all kinds of physical, emotional, and financial doors that wouldn’t exist otherwise.
And, at the very least, those who quit drinking reap the benefit of living a longer life.
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#12 Those Mood Swings Will Becoming Things of the Past
Like many people, you probably use alcohol as a way to improve your mood. A lot of people drink to cover up symptoms of anxiety and depression, and others do it because it helps get them in a better mood. But what you probably don’t realize is the fact that if you have been dealing with major mood swings, it could be because of the alcohol.
Alcohol should never be viewed as a tool to improve your mood. It should also not be used to solve problems, yet people drink for these reasons every day. Excessive drinking has the ability to create short-term mental health problems. When you drink too much, you put yourself at risk for a whole list of negative consequences.
How Might Alcohol Impact Your Mood Short-Term?
When you drink too much, you run the risk of suffering many types of issues, such as:
- Blacking out
- Throwing up
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Slurred speech
But these are not the only issues you need to watch out for. There are several mood issues that you may have experienced as well, like:
- Becoming angry easily.
- Acting out with violence.
- Becoming inappropriately affectionate.
- Feeling close to people you don’t know.
- Becoming impulsive, such as driving a car under the influence or having unprotected sex.
How Might Alcohol Impact Your Mood Long-Term?
As you know, excessive drinking behaviors often lead to chronic, long-term health conditions. People put themselves at risk for cancer, liver problems, strokes, and high blood pressure when they drink too much. But there is another side effect of long-term alcohol use that you might not be familiar with – Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS) is a condition that demonstrates the fact that alcohol affects both the mind and the body. It happens because alcohol depletes the body’s stores of Vitamin Thiamine, or B1, in the body. When your body doesn’t have enough B1, lesions can form on the brain. The result is problems with confusion and memory. Both can lead to angry or violent behaviors.
WKS is actually two different conditions that occur simultaneously. They are Wernicke’s disease and Korsakoff syndrome. Most people experience the symptoms of WD before they get the symptoms of KS.
While WKS can have other causes, most cases are caused by long-term alcoholism. The most common symptoms include:
- Feeling confused, which can lead to violent behaviors.
- Having trouble walking because of a loss of muscle coordination.
- Ptosis, which means that you have a droopy upper eyelid.
- Double vision.
- Strange eye movements that go up and down or side to side.
- Memory problems regarding events after you were diagnosed.
- Problems with understanding instructions.
- Problems forming sentences or putting your thoughts into words.
What Happens Once Your Mood is Improved?
So many great things can happen in your life once your mood is improved. Your family will be overjoyed that you decided to stop drinking, and you’ll be able to enjoy your time together again. You may even be better equipped to repair former relationships with friends and loved ones. In fact, your entire outlook on life might change for the better.
#13 You Can Make Serious Gains in the Gym
A lot of alcoholics stop going to the gym – not to mention that they stop taking care of themselves altogether. Instead, they focus on drinking and that tends to take up most of their lives. The same can be said for athletes with drinking problems.
Angie Asche, R.D. is a sports dietician and clinical exercise physiologist. She says, “From an athletic performance standpoint, alcohol can impact hydration status, motor skills, and muscle recovery. Research has shown that consuming alcohol after strenuous workouts can actually magnify delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by slowing the recovery process and increasing soreness. Alcohol can make it challenging for athletes to see the progress they’d like in their training with such negative impacts on both body composition and muscle recovery.”
The Consequences of Alcoholism on Athletic Performance
Athletes who drink too much are likely to deal with a long list of consequences. They include the following:
- Problems with aerobic performance – Because alcohol is a diuretic, it can lead to poor hydration. It also causes problems for the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Many athletes find that when they do drink, they don’t have the stamina they need and they get tired much faster.
- Problems with strength, motor skills and sprinting ability – Alcohol tends to slow down your reaction time. It also makes it hard for you to be precise, which is important for athletes. You may find that your equilibrium is off and your hand-eye coordination suffers as a result of drinking too much. Your power, strength and speed could be impeded for as long as three days after you drink.
- Problems with recovery – For athletes, recovery is so important. Without it, they cannot perform at their best. Drinking too much has been shown to delay the body’s ability to repair its muscles. That means more injuries and less time participating.
- Problems with body composition – Athletes typically spend a lot of time in the gym keeping their bodies in shape. But drinking too much can result in an increase of body fat. Because it has a stimulant effect, people usually eat more when they drink. This contributes to unwanted weight gain, as we discussed earlier.
- Problems with nutrition – You may not have realized that alcohol could be impeding your body’s ability to absorb vital vitamins and nutrients. Many of them may be used to help your body get rid of the alcohol, which leaves them unavailable to do their jobs. For an athlete who should be paying close attention to their nutrition, quitting drinking is important.
- Problems with illnesses – Excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to have a negative effect on the body’s immune system. In fact, liver disease and even liver failure could be linked to autoimmunity. This is when the body starts attacking itself, to put it in the simplest of terms. You’re also likely to get sick more with stomach bugs, flus and other illnesses.
- Problems with sleep – As you sleep, your body uses that time to restore and repair itself following a workout. But if you’ve been drinking, it may be harder to catch those Zs you crave so much. Alcohol reduces the amount of time you spend in deep, restful sleep.
What Happens Once an Athlete Stops Drinking?
When an athlete stops drinking, it may take some time for them to get back to their peak performance. But if you’re someone who plays sports or who works out a lot, please don’t be discouraged. Try to remember that it took some time for you to get to this place, depending on how long you’ve been drinking. Likewise, it may take some time for you to completely recover.
#14 You’ll Learn Better Coping Strategies
As we mentioned earlier, people often turn to alcohol as a way to cope with symptoms of many mental health conditions. But it’s possible that while you haven’t been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, you drink because of stress. This is actually one of the most common reasons people become alcoholics. They use alcohol as a way to escape their problems and it becomes a coping mechanism for them. The problem is that it’s not a good one because of all the other health issues it can cause. In addition to that, alcoholics never actually learn healthy ways to cope until they stop drinking.
One of the issues with using alcohol as a way to cope with stress is that it actually works for a while. When you drink, you may feel as though you’re being flooded with warm feelings that make you feel good. Alcohol may allow you to temporarily release that tension you’ve been holding onto all day long. The result is that it drove you to drink again to get the same results.
All kinds of people use alcohol as a way to cope. This includes executives, college students, parents, and veterans, among others. People who have watched family members use alcohol this way have a higher risk of repeating that behavior.
Why is Alcohol Use a Dangerous Coping Mechanism?
There are a lot of reasons why it is dangerous to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. For example, it can:
- Lead to an addiction – You might be surprised to learn that it doesn’t always take very long to become an alcoholic. Depending on your drinking behaviors, it could happen in as little as a few weeks or months. It might seem as though you’re having a good time, but really, you’re putting yourself at risk.
- Damage important relationships – Our loved ones usually spot the signs of alcoholism long before we do, which can be a good thing. But refusing to stop drinking can cause a lot of problems at home, as well as with your friendships.
- Cause you to lose your job – You may be a person who enjoys drinking only on the weekends or someone who drinks every night and sometimes during the day. Either way, you might be an alcoholic. Drinking excessively can cause you to become less productive at work. It can also lead to a lot of absences. When you combine the two, it’s not surprising that so many alcoholics lose their jobs eventually.
- Cause mental health conditions – We’ve talked a lot about people using alcohol as a way to self-medicate. But drinking too much can also cause mental health issues as well. It is not uncommon for people to develop psychiatric symptoms once they start drinking too much. But the good news is that when they quit, they are very likely to improve.
- Steal your money – Certain types of alcohol are cheaper than others. But for an alcoholic, money is usually far from their minds. If you have a drinking problem, you’ve likely spent thousands of dollars getting your fix. You may have depleted all of your savings, cashed in your 401K, or even stolen money from others. If nothing else, it is a way to find yourself in financial ruin.
Recovering From an Alcohol Addiction Helps You Form New Coping Skills
You’ll notice a dramatic change in your life once you stop drinking – you no longer have alcohol to turn to. At first, you might panic at that thought, but please know that the long-term outcome will be well worth it. This gives you an opportunity to develop new and better coping skills. When you learn how to cope with your problems in healthy ways, there are so many immediate benefits.
Some of the coping skills you may want to focus on developing include:
- Talking to your friends and family about your concerns.
- Using meditation, prayer or mindfulness to help clear your mind and relax.
- Practicing your social skills to help lower your anxiety levels.
- Taking up a sport or starting an exercise regimen.
- Practicing breathing techniques to help yourself stay calm.
- Distracting yourself by reading a good book, watching TV or listening to music.
- Talking with a therapist about the issues you face.
- Journaling about your feelings and experiences.
All of these can be healthy alternatives to alcohol. We’re sure you can even think of some more. Why not take up a new hobby or make some new friends? Both can keep your thoughts far away from drinking.
#15 Your Cancer Risk Goes Down
The CDC reports that the less you drink, the less your risk for cancer is. There are some types of cancer that are considered to be more common among people who regularly consume alcohol. They include:
- Mouth and throat cancer
- Esophagus cancer
- Colon and rectum cancer
- Breast cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Liver cancer
When you drink, your body breaks the alcohol down into a chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical damages your DNA and it prevents your body from repairing it. Your DNA acts like a set of instructions for your cells. It controls their functions and growth. When it is damaged, the cells of your body can start to grow out of control. Sometimes this results in cancer.
The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirms that alcohol use can cause cancer. It lists it as a known carcinogen, and it has a lot of evidence for doing so. The risk tends to increase depending on how much time a person spends drinking, and how long they drink. In fact, even people who are considered to be light drinkers have an increased risk of being diagnosed with the disease.
Could Your Genes Play a Role in Alcohol-Related Cancer?
Yes, it’s possible. This specifically refers to the genes that are responsible for encoding enzymes that are involved with breaking down the alcohol in your body.
Dehydrogenase (ADH) is one enzyme that converts ethanol into acetaldehyde. This takes place in the liver, and it may also happen in the oral cavity. But its production can be influenced by the number of bacteria in your mouth. Some people may have a super-active form of ADH, and others may have a less active form. People whose ADH is more active have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who don’t, according to Cancer.gov.
Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) is another enzyme that can become problematic for certain people. Its job is to metabolize acetaldehyde into substances that are not toxic to the body. But for people with defective ALDH2 enzymes, this process doesn’t always happen as it should. Instead, their bodies build up acetaldehyde when they drink. This is why those individuals often suffer from heart palpitations or they get red in the face. People with this type of ALDH2 should not consume large amounts of alcohol.
What if You Only Drink Red Wine?
You may have heard that drinking red wine could be good for your health, but there is a lot of misleading information on this. Resveratrol is the chemical in grapes and red wine that is said to have anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that this compound can stop a mutated protein that is found in more than half of patients with breast cancer. While this is good news, it does not mean that it’s OK to drink red wine as long as you stay away from other types of alcohol.
Further studies have shown that in small amounts, red wine may repress cancerous cell grown in breast and esophageal cancers. But for someone who is an alcoholic, a small amount is usually never enough.
The best way to lower your risk of cancer is to stop drinking completely.
The Benefits of Lowering Your Risk of Cancer by Quitting Alcohol for Good
No one ever wants to hear their doctor tell them that the health condition they suffer from is cancer. If you quit drinking, you may never have to hear those words from your doctor. You’ll be around for your family, and be alive to experience everything life has to offer you.
Cancer doesn’t appear to care about how much or how often you drink. But if you are currently having four or more drinks a day, it’s time to rethink that.
No Alcohol for a Year: You Don’t Have to Be a Drunk to Quit Drinking
Sobriety isn’t just for alcoholics. Nearly everyone could benefit from quitting alcohol. The physical, emotional, and financial upsides apply to all.
It doesn’t have to be permanent, either. If someone with a healthy relationship to alcohol feels that the drug makes them tired or sick when they drink it, they could probably benefit from stopping.
A number of therapists and health experts have promoted the idea of quitting alcohol for a year. This time period allows the body to regenerate itself and for the mind to straighten itself out. It’s likely, at the end of the year, that the individual won’t want to drink anymore, anyway.
If you feel like you have an unhealthy relationship with booze, it could be time to get help.
Some people are lucky enough to have the ability to drink in moderation. However, other people are unable to do this. If someone experiences negative consequences from drinking, it’s a sign that they may have a problem. These people should not just quit for a year. They should quit permanently. Failure to get sober could end badly.
Are You Struggling with Alcoholism? We Want to Help!
“I quit drinking and I feel great.” ~ Anonymous Ashwood Resident
There are so many benefits to giving up alcohol, especially if it’s causing problems in a person’s life. Here at Ashwood Recovery, we’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of alcoholics get sober. If you’re currently suffering from alcohol addiction, please give us a call. We want to help you get your drinking habits under control.
Ashwood Recovery at Northpoint is a professional addiction treatment center located in Idaho. We have campuses in both Boise and Nampa. We offer detox, rehabilitation, and a number of other services. Our staff is comprised of professional doctors, counselors, therapists, and addiction experts. All of us are eager to help you turn your life around.
Treatment for Alcoholism is Available to You Right Now
We hope that after seeing the benefits, you’re eager to stop drinking. But we want to caution you not to stop on your own. Doing so puts you at risk for dangerous alcohol withdrawal complications, such as delirium tremens and other issues. It’s best to recover from alcoholism with professionals by going through detox and rehab.
Delirium tremens refers to a form of severe alcohol withdrawal that can be life-threatening. It is possible to avoid it, but you will need to go through alcohol detox. This should only be done on an inpatient basis because of the risks involved with complications.
After detoxing, you should continue to a quality alcohol rehab program. Rehabilitation is where you will learn new coping skills that you can use in place of drinking. You’ll work with a therapist individually, and receive group therapy, among other forms of treatment.
About Ashwood Recovery’s Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Program
At Ashwood Recovery, we offer one of the best outpatient alcohol treatment programs in Idaho. We know that our clients all have their own challenges when it comes to recovering from an addiction. That is why we have three levels of care to help us better meet their unique needs.
Our partial hospitalization program requires a weekly commitment of 30 hours. It is our most intensive level of care, and it is where many people need to start. Our clients attend treatment as much as six hours per day, five days per week, if necessary.
We also offer our intensive outpatient program, which is our middle level of care. It requires as much as 15 hours of treatment per week, which may include therapeutic activities and therapy sessions.
Finally, our outpatient rehab program requires a weekly time commitment of three hours. This is often the final step for those who are transitioning through our entire program.
We offer two locations to help us serve your needs even better. We have facilities in both Boise and Nampa.
Alcoholism Recovery Can be Yours! We’re Here to Help
At Ashwood Recovery, we understand the challenges of recovering from alcohol addiction. If you or someone you love is an alcoholic, you may not know where to turn for help. But we are here to provide you with the support you need.
You’re going to experience so many benefits when you quit drinking. It will be an honor for us to help you through it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
When a person who has been drinking alcohol for a long time suddenly stops, the result is alcohol withdrawal. This term refers to what happens in the body and mind as alcohol is processed out of your system. The more a person drinks, the more likely they are to have withdrawal when they quit.
People typically start experiencing symptoms in as little as 8 hours after their last drink. But it might take as long as a few days before you begin to notice symptoms. They usually come to a peak between 24 and 72 hours after the last drink.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually start out mild and then they become more severe. They can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Anxiety or depression
- Nightmares and insomnia
- Sweaty, clammy skin
- Mood swings
It is important to get treatment for alcohol withdrawal because complications are possible. In some cases, it can even be fatal if it is left untreated.
What is Delirium Tremens?
Delirium tremens, or DTs, is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can be fatal if it is left untreated. It can happen to people who stop drinking and:
- Who have a history of alcohol withdrawal.
- Typically consume a lot of alcohol every day for several months in a row.
- Have used alcohol for more than ten years.
But if you do not fit into any of these categories, that does not mean you might not experience it as well. It can happen to anyone who does not eat enough food when they stop drinking and begin working on recovering.
The symptoms of delirium tremens usually surface within 96 hours of your last drink. But people have experienced them as long as 10 days after their last drink. The symptoms can include:
- Having delirium, which means sudden bouts of confusion.
- Having hallucinations.
- The onset of seizures.
- Quick mood swings.
- Feelings of restlessness.
- Feeling exhausted and sleeping for a day or more.
- Becoming over-sensitive to touch, light and sound.
- Body tremors.
It is best to go through alcohol detox so that you have a better chance of avoiding DTs altogether. If you do experience symptoms, a medical facility that offers detox services is your best bet. They can help you get the treatment you need.
Are There Ways to Help Someone Quit Drinking?
If you have a loved one who is an alcoholic, their drinking behaviors might break your heart. You might spend a lot of time worrying about them, and you feel powerless to do anything to help them change. If you have not done so already, you may want to try:
- Talking with them about their drinking behaviors.
- Talking with them about your concerns in a way that is caring and encouraging.
- Avoiding arguing, accusing or lecturing when you talk with them.
- Taking the time to learn more about alcohol abuse and addiction.
- Research treatment and support options and present them to your loved one.
It can be hard to convince someone with a drinking problem that they need to get help. People often live in denial for years because they think they have their substance abuse under control. If you have tried all of the above to no avail, you might want to talk with a professional about staging an intervention.
How do You Know if You Are Addicted to Alcohol?
It is not uncommon for people to be completely unaware of their alcohol addictions. They may know they drink excessively, but they feel in control. If this is how you feel, it might help to take a look at some common signs of alcoholism. They can include:
- Taking risks that you would not normally take if you were not drinking.
- Frequent blackouts.
- Problems making good decisions that will benefit your life.
- A history of accidents or injuries that happened while you were drinking.
- Strong desires or cravings to drink.
- Going through withdrawal when you have not had a drink in a while.
If you are still unsure, it might help to take an alcoholism quiz to give yourself some more insight.
The hardest part is often admitting that you have a problem that needs treatment. But please know that if you are an alcoholic, help is available for you.
What Happens When You Give Up Alcohol for a Month?
Some people find that it is really hard for them to agree to give up alcohol forever. But they may be persuaded to do it for just a month. It is truly amazing to see the changes that can happen in your body if you agree to stop drinking for just 30 days. You might find that you:
- Are sleeping better than you ever have before.
- Have more physical energy.
- Have more mental energy with clearer thoughts.
- Start to look younger as your skin’s hydration returns to normal levels.
- Lose weight and feel more fit.
- Have better moods and feel happier overall.
In just a month’s time, your liver fat can be reduced by as much as 20%. That makes it better equipped to detox your body. Your cholesterol will also decrease and your blood sugar will stabilizes.
What is the Best Way to Get Help for an Alcohol Addiction?
If you are addicted to alcohol, getting professional help to stop drinking is highly recommended. An alcohol treatment program will help you with your withdrawal symptoms as well as with the underlying cause of the problem.
Your first step will be to go through the detoxification process. Alcohol detox involves lessening the severity of withdrawal and helping you feel better until the majority of your symptoms subside.
From there, you will move on to alcohol rehab, where you will learn why you started drinking. By treating the root cause, you will have a much better chance of long-term success.
Would you like more information about alcoholism recovery or our outpatient rehab center? Please contact us right away.
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