10 Benefits When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

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Excessive alcohol consumption is as much a part of American culture as consumerism, baseball and fried chicken. It can be difficult to escape the prevalence of heavy drinking which seems to be so deeply ingrained in society. Even when attempting to actively avoid booze, it can be found insidiously lurking behind every corner. Dining out almost always involves cocktail specials and wine lists, celebratory events revolve around champagne toasts; even work functions often concern an ample amount of liquor-fueled schmoozing. Many of us begin drinking to fit in, and continue drinking because it is simply the “normal” thing to do. However, if you have started to notice that your drinking habits have taken a turn and you have attempted to quit on your own with limited success, you might be struggling with a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. But how can you tell what is appropriate and what is not when you’re surrounded by people who seemingly drink like you do? At Guardian Recovery we understand that alcohol use disorders affect different people in different ways. Because alcohol addiction recovery is not a one-size-fits-all process, treatment options should vary on an individualized basis. If you have grown concerned about your personal drinking habits and you are interested in learning more about the treatment options available to you, contact us today.

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10 Benefits When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

If you are on the fence about quitting, you might be racking your brain for reasons why. Why should you completely stop drinking? Maybe you still have some good nights, making it harder to walk away completely. Perhaps you have a selective memory when it comes to drinking, forgetting about the puking, bar fights and living paycheck-to-paycheck and instead focusing on the time you won $20 playing pool a few years ago. 

It can be difficult to quit drinking when you can still find reasons not to. But remember — if you wait for every part of yourself to be onboard with making change, you’ll never make any progress. We have listed several benefits associated with quitting drinking below. If you have any additional questions about why you should limit your alcohol intake and what steps to take, contact us today. 

Improved Mental Health

Many individuals who struggle with a diagnosable alcohol use disorder simultaneously struggle with an underlying mental health condition like anxiety or depression. Even heavy drinkers who have no personal history of mental illness are susceptible to an increased risk of mental health problems. When you quit drinking, other areas of your life often improve by default — you get more sleep, you eat better, you exercise more. All of these factors contribute to improved mental health. Additionally, the consequences associated with heavy drinking can lead to depressed mood and anxiety. For example, if you are dealing with serious legal issues as a direct result of your drinking, it makes sense that you would feel anxious and upset. 

Better Sleep

If you have been drinking heavily for a long time, you might feel like you need to have a few drinks in order to fall asleep and sleep through the night. The truth is that drinking before bed prevents you from experiencing restful sleep, and you will likely wake up feeling fatigued, groggy and drained. When you fall asleep naturally and without the aid of a chemical substance like alcohol, you will experience a more restorative sleep and feel well-rested and ready to take on the day.

Healthier Weight

There is a barrage of misinformation circulating the internet. If you have researched whether or not alcohol causes weight gain, you might have stumbled across a number of viral myths during your search. Drinking a moderate amount of wine can actually assist in weight loss, for example. Or tequila is a stimulant, and causes people to burn more calories than they consume when drinking the liquor straight. Maybe even that you can drink hard seltzers like water without putting on a pound. The truth is that all kinds of alcohol — wine, beer and liquor — contain a significant amount of “empty” carbohydrates, leading to unwanted weight gain when consumed in excess. Cutting out alcohol completely will help you maintain a healthy weight.

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 A Healthier Brain

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports, “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term, heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size. The developing brain is particularly vulnerable to effects of alcohol. Misuse of alcohol during adolescence and early adulthood can alter the trajectory of brain development, resulting in long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.”  In most cases, your brain will begin to heal itself once you stop drinking and stay stopped — before too much damage has been done. 

A Stronger Immune System

Quitting drinking is a great way to boost your immune system and improve your overall health. When you drink alcohol regularly, your body has a difficult time keeping up with the production of white blood cells, which help you fight infection. Giving up alcohol means you are supporting your immune defense against bacteria, germs, wounds, and injuries. An article published by the National Library of Medicine states, “In the case of the immune system, moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced inflammation and improved responses to vaccination, while chronic heavy drinking is associated with a decreased frequency of lymphocytes and increased risk of both bacterial and viral infections.”  If your body is busy breaking down and processing alcohol, it has less energy to fight off infections and keep you healthy and strong

 A Healthier Liver

There is a strong correlation between heavy drinking and heart disease. You may have heard that drinking a glass of wine with dinner can have a positive effect on heart health; however, when it comes to drinking regularly, the risks almost always outweigh the benefits. An article written by a cardiologist and published by The Heart & Stroke Foundation states, “Binge drinking (4 or more drinks in a single session for women; 5 or more drinks in a single session for men) and heavy drinking can increase your blood pressure and risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation. This could increase your risk of mortality whether you’re living with heart disease or not. Survivors of heart attacks who reported binge drinking are twice as likely to die from any cause, including heart disease, compared with non-binge drinkers. There’s no question that binge drinking — even if it’s only one day a week — puts you at higher risk.” Avoiding alcohol is the best way to keep your heart healthy.

Decreased Risk of Cancer

Avoiding alcohol entirely has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer. This is especially true among those with genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the risk of developing six specific types of cancer:

  • Esophagus cancer. 
  • Liver cancer. 
  • Colon and rectum cancer. 
  • Breast cancer (in women). 
  • Larynx (voice box) cancer. 
  • Mouth and throat cancer. 

The more you drink, the higher your risk of developing cancer. 

 Improved Digestion

Regular alcohol consumption causes a wide array of digestive and gastrointestinal issues, from acid reflux to stomach cancer. Alcohol irritates the digestive system, which includes the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and large and small intestines. The digestive system kicks into high gear when attempting to eliminate alcohol from the body. Because alcohol elimination is prioritized, other nutrients like carbohydrates and fats are processed and eliminated from the system more slowly. When you quit drinking, your system is able to break down nutrients the way it is meant to, leading to improved digestion and metabolism.

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Improved Memory & Cognitive Function

Drinking any amount of alcohol impairs cognitive function. Even if you are not “blacking out” on a regular basis, you will have a more difficult time with memory and retention if you consume alcohol moderately and frequently. The hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls cognitive function and memory, shrinks with even moderate alcohol consumption. Fortunately, the majority of drinking-related damage to memory and cognitive function can be reversed when a period of sobriety is maintained. If you have been having a difficult time quitting on your own, there is help available. Contact us today to learn more.

Many people can stop drinking as soon as a good enough reason presents itself. However, if you have been struggling with a diagnosable alcohol use disorder, simply stepping away from alcohol might not seem like a viable option. If you have attempted to quit or cut back on drinking with little or no success, entering into a program of alcohol addiction recovery might be necessary. Guardian Recovery is available to help. We offer an effective and individualized treatment program that addresses the consequences of alcohol misuse and dependence on a physical, emotional and psychological level. As soon as you make the decision to reach out for help, you will be put in touch with an experienced Treatment Advisor who will walk you through our simple, straightforward admissions process. We begin by conducting a brief pre-assessment to ensure our recovery program is a good fit. If we believe you would benefit more from a different level of care, we will point you in the right direction. Our main priority is ensuring you receive the help you need in a timely manner. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you begin your own personal journey of alcohol addiction recovery.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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