Quitting drinking is a big step.
A common reason people stop drinking is that it has affected their life in a negative fashion – such as ruining a relationship or impacting a job. What people may not realize are the multiple positive health impacts it can have.
What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking
Habitual drinking wrecks havoc on many parts of the body – including the brain, liver, heart, and immune system. If a person decides to quit drinking, they can experience extreme withdrawal symptoms depending on the severity of their use. This happens because the body has adapted to the consistent consumption of alcohol. When the drinking ceases, the initial reactions might feel uncomfortable, but after the initial withdrawals, the body starts to return to its normal state without the dependence to alcohol. This has significant health benefits.
Before we look at the health effects, perhaps looking at the effects alcohol does to the body can shine a light on what its absence does.
Alcohol affects the brain by slowing down communication between neurons and neurotransmitters. This causes changes in breathing, speaking, thinking, and moving. Long term alcohol use deteriorates brain tissue and the limbic system. Alcohol is known to decrease brain cells (even after one use) therefore over the course of addiction, an alcoholic’s brain can be severely affected causing mood changes, depression and poor sleep. These symptoms often lead an individual to cope with these symptoms with more alcohol leading to greater dependence.
Alcohol makes it harder for white blood cells to fight of harmful bacteria. As a result, alcohol lowers the immune system and making it harder for the body to fend off illnesses
Because the liver is responsible for removing harmful toxins from the body, excessive alcohol drinking causes the liver to overwork leading to a buildup of harmful toxins in the body. This leads to a buildup of fatty liver called Steatosis. Steatosis is the beginning of a failing liver and can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Once this happens it is almost
Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides) which can lead to high blood pressure. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can also lead to stroke or heart failure.
According to the American Journal of Public Health, alcohol causes 3.5% of all U.S. cancer deaths and remains a major contributor to cancer mortality and years of potential life lost.
Health Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol
The benefits of quitting alcohol far extend just health benefits, but a feeling of overall well-being can positively reinforce the decision to stay sober. These benefits can include:
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Clarity and less brain fog
- Clearer skin
- More hydration in the body
- Increased mental focus
- Better digestion
- Increased absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Weight loss due to less caloric intake
- Reduced sugar intake (as long as it is not replaced with sweets overload)
- Reduced risk of heart disease or breast cancer
- Better immune system
- Improved memory function
How Long Does It Take For Our Body To Reverse the Negative Effects of Drinking?
While the main goal of abstaining from alcohol is to prevent any further damage from occurring, there are certain damages that can be reversed. For instance, a study showed that damage to the liver can be resolved in as little as 6 weeks. Other studies have shown a significant change in the brain after several months of sobriety. abstinence has been shown to partially correct the structural damage of the brain leading to improved thinking, problem-solving, memory, and attention.
The longer the person has been using alcohol, the longer it will take to reverse these damages. It is also important to realize that certain conditions may not be reversible; like fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. It is never too late to quit drinking and start feeling the benefits of sobriety!
Getting Help for Alcohol Dependence
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse, contact our addiction specialists today! They will be happy to educate the benefits of treatment, the process, and the variety of treatment options to find a program that works for your life. Your treatment could be fully covered by insurance. Getting the benefits of sobriety is just a phone call away!