Alcohol isn’t a healthy substance—it’s a toxin. When a person drinks excessively, the body is forced to work harder to process the substance. The liver can be pushed to its limits trying to metabolize it. The brain fights to re-establish equilibrium, and the heart pumps at an irregular rate. Conversely, people who don’t drink tend to be much healthier. They aren’t vulnerable to alcohol’s impact on the body. And because the system is free from toxic chemicals, it can focus its energy elsewhere. As a result, the mind and body can begin to function optimally. Drinking isn’t good for mental health, either. In excess, it often causes people to make choices they later regret. Therefore, alcohol abuse is often associated with feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse. Over time, this can harm a person’s emotional health. One of the most significant benefits of not drinking alcohol is the cessation of guilt.
2. Looking Younger
Alcohol use tends to make people appear older than they are. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it dehydrates the body, resulting in drier skin that becomes less elastic. It also causes body tissue inflammation, and this is why some people get flushed in the face when they drink. That flushed redness is their skin becoming inflamed. Initially, the redness usually goes away once alcohol leaves their system, but over time, constant inflammation will damage their skin and may become more permanent. In most people, alcohol reduces collagen, which is a protein that connects the skin cells and strengthens the tissue. When it breaks down, the skin starts to become more loose and saggy.
3. Saving Money
The advantages of quitting drinking aren’t just physical—it has financial benefits, as well. As anyone who drinks regularly knows, the cost of alcoholism can add up. When purchased once in a while, the price of a couple of beers or a bottle of wine is only a few dollars. But, when someone drinks every day, the costs add up over time. Also, poor decisions often accompany drinking. If any legal issues, such as being charged with drinking and driving occur, the cost can be tremendous. Former alcoholics are usually happy to discover that their wallets are much fuller once they quit.
4. Losing Weight
Alcohol is very high in calories, and these calories are empty. The body processes and retains alcohol as sugar, which eventually turns to fat. People who drink excessively often weigh more than those who abstain. In fact, research shows that excessive alcohol use is associated with obesity. The more alcohol a person drinks, the more likely it is that they’ll carry extra weight. Of course, some people have faster metabolisms than others and may be more or less active. Thus, there is not necessarily a direct correlation between someone’s weight and the amount of alcohol they drink. But, if a person is looking to shed some weight, they should start abstaining from alcohol.
5. New Activities and Hobbies
Alcohol dependence itself takes up considerable time, and when you add the time it takes to recover from drinking, you might find you have a lot more time on your hands when you quit. Therefore, finding a new hobby or activity is essential for maintaining sobriety. Some former alcoholics turn to exercise, for example, and some prefer to read, paint, or garden. It’s not terribly important what the hobby is, as long as it gives the addict something to do to occupy their mind and the time they used to spend drinking.
6. Healthy Liver Function
Drinking alcohol is notoriously bad for the liver. When a person consumes an excessive amount, the liver must exhaust itself to process it. In severe cases, alcoholics can develop liver disorders such as fatty liver, hepatitis, or cirrhosis. These conditions can result in both internal and external damage to the body, and liver cirrhosis is irreversible. Fortunately, the liver is a continually regenerating organ, and can often repair itself when it’s given an appropriate amount of time to do so. It creates new cells with the intention to fix any problems that may arise. Alcohol impairs the regenerative system, however, and when used excessively, the liver has a difficult time regenerating. Over time, the liver may deteriorate and become fatty, inflamed, and even scarred. To prevent damage from worsening, heavy drinkers should stop drinking and give their liver some time to recover. When a person quits drinking, their liver begins to flush out the leftover byproducts that were produced over time. This process usually takes several weeks, but in extreme cases, may take a few years. After the byproducts have been cleared, the liver can return to normal functioning. Unfortunately, some liver damage, such as cirrhosis, is irreparable. In most cases, though, people who decide to abstain will experience the benefits of not drinking alcohol within a few months.
7. Making Amends and Righting Wrongs
Most people have done things that they regret. But heavy drinkers tend to do more regrettable things—one of the greatest benefits of quitting is having the opportunity to apologize and to make amends for those things. Sobriety gives people the chance to right their wrongs and start over. Alcoholics often behave in ways that cause their family or friends to distance themselves. But when the person quits drinking, they offer concrete proof that they are taking steps toward becoming a better person. As long as they remain sober, at least some of the people around them will impart forgiveness.
8. Improved Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, despite the fact that alcohol is a depressant and can induce sleep, it can ultimately interfere with quality sleep in several ways. Drinking alcohol before bedtime is associated with more slow-wave sleep patterns called delta activity that allows for memory formation and learning. Consecutively, however, another type of brain pattern known as alpha activity is also initiated. Alpha activity doesn’t usually occur during sleep, but instead while a person is relaxing quietly. Together, the alpha and delta activity in the brain that ensues after drinking may inhibit restorative sleep and can interrupt circadian rhythms. Experts believe it does this by interfering with the normal production of chemicals in the body that cause drowsiness after being awake for some time, and wane when sleep is sufficient. After drinking alcohol, production of adenosine, a chemical that induces sleep, is increased. This action allows for a fast onset of sleep but also subsides almost as quickly as it came, making one more likely to wake up before being truly rested. According to sleep experts, alcohol also inhibits REM sleep, can aggravate breathing problems and can lead to an increased need to urinate and frequent trips to the bathroom. The benefits of not drinking alcohol, therefore, include a much better night’s sleep and feelings of restfulness the following day.
For many people, quitting alcohol may feel like an impossible task. It’s especially challenging for those who are addicted—often, alcoholics feel as if, for them, there can be no life without it. Despite all of the adverse effects it has on their well-being, they continue to drink. Fortunately, however, achieving abstinence is possible, and the benefits of not drinking alcohol are astounding. Through long-term abstinence, people have been able to improve their lives—sometimes immediately—in unlimited ways.
Ready to stop drinking?
Many people have difficulty quitting drinking on their own. Most addiction professionals recommend that individuals dependent upon alcohol undergo a medical detox following by a long-term inpatient or outpatient program. The most effective approaches to treatment are comprehensive and focus on evidence-based services, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, counseling, and group support. Our center employs knowledgeable staff who specialize in addiction and deliver these services to each client with care and expertise. We provide clients with the tools and support they need to achieve sobriety and enjoy long-lasting wellness and harmony. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you get started on your journey to recovery!