Rehab 4 Addiction

Drinking exerts a huge toll on almost all aspects of physical health, from the liver, to the skin, to blood pressure, body weight, and the immune system.

Among the many benefits of quitting alcohol, the health benefits are some of the most pronounced.

By giving up alcohol, you give your body a chance to repair itself. As a result, you will start to see improvements in a short space of time.

In this article, we go through some of the main health benefits of giving up alcohol.

1. You will lose weight.

When you drink alcohol, you put on weight in a number of ways.

The most direct way in which alcohol leads to weight gain is through its high calorie content. One beer can contain nearly 200 calories. If you are drinking several beers a day, that can quickly add up.

There are also less direct ways in which alcohol can lead to weight gain. One of these is through eating junk food. People eat junk food on a night out to sober them up.

They also eat it the day after binge drinking, when their blood sugar is low, in order to deal with a hangover. All of this junk food contains lots of empty calories, and very little nutritional content.

Stop drinking, and you will massively reduce your calorie intake. Over time, especially if you exercise, this should lead to weight loss.

2. Stop getting hangovers

Hangovers are caused by a mixture of dehydration and withdrawal. They often lead to unhealthy behaviours, such as lying in bed all day, or consuming lots of junk food. They are also very unpleasant!

The good news is, once you stop drinking alcohol, you will never have to worry about hangovers again.

This will make you more productive, happier, more active and healthier. [3]

3. Healthier brain

As a depressant, drinking causes the brain to slow down, which means that when you drink large amounts you do not think as quickly.

Drinking can also lead to blackouts, which cause memory loss.

Finally, there is a risk of alcohol-related brain damage in long-term drinkers. One condition of the brain caused by drinking is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, otherwise known as ‘wet brain syndrome’. Similar to dementia, this condition entails memory loss and sometimes psychosis, and is currently untreatable.

You can read more about the effects of alcohol on the brain here.

None of these dangers will apply to you if you get sober. Your brain will feel much sharper, your memory will be less patchy, and you won’t have to worry about brain damage in the future.

4. More energy

Alcohol can sap your energy in a few different ways.

As a depressant, it makes you feel less energetic. Due to its effect on sleep (see below), it can also make you feel more tired.

When you stop drinking, you will find that you have much more energy than you did before. You will feel more aware, more able to concentrate on things, and less tired.

5. Deeper, longer sleep

One of the problems with drinking is that it leads to poor sleep. After a night of drinking, you often fall asleep very quickly. However, in doing so you miss an important stage of the sleep process, known as the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase. REM is key to the formation of memories.

In fact, the poor sleep caused by alcohol is doubly damaging, since it makes you tired the next day and disrupts your ability to remember things.

Sober people tend to get better sleep. This helps them to be more productive, happier and healthier. A good night’s sleep is key to all sorts of things.

6. Less chance of cardiovascular disease

One of the many health risks caused by alcohol use is a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

This happens because bad cholesterol gets oxidised when you drink, builds up on the carotid arteries and blocks them. Blocked arteries increase the risk of CV disease.

After you get sober, your heart and blood vessels will be much healthier, and your chances of developing CV disease will go down.

7. Reduce your risk of getting cancer

According to a government fact sheet on the links between alcohol and cancer, alcohol has been tied to cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, voice box, breast (in women), liver, bowel and colon. The same fact sheet states that ‘even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink a day) and binge drinkers have a moderately increased risk of some cancers’. [1]

So, by living a sober life, you significantly cut your risk of developing a whole host of cancers, and raise your life expectancy.

8. Lower your blood pressure

Scientists have understood for some time now that alcohol is linked to high blood pressure, which in turn is linked to various health problems, such as stroke. [2]

Alcohol causes vasoconstrictors to be released. Vasoconstrictors make the blood vessels thinner, which increases blood pressure.

By becoming abstinent, you give yourself a better chance of having low blood pressure. This reduces your risk of having a stroke.

9. Give your liver a break

Alcohol is one of the main causes of liver disease. Even mild drinking increases your risk of developing fatty liver disease and mild fibrosis. More serious liver diseases, such as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis, often happen as a result of a lifetime of drinking.

The good news is that the liver is a regenerative organ, so even if you have been drinking for a while, there is still a lot of merit to getting sober. Not only will sobriety stop your liver from getting any worse, it will also help it to heal.

10. Fortify your immune system

Have you ever noticed that people with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) often have a runny nose, or a cough?

That’s because alcohol prevents the immune system from operating at full capacity. When you get sober, your immune system starts working fully, which should help you to avoid those nagging coughs and sneezes.

11. Better-looking skin

Alcohol robs the skin of its moisture by dehydrating it. This can lead drinkers to have dull or blotchy skin.

There is also the phenomenon of ‘grog blossom’, burst vessels in the nose that affect long-term drinkers.

Sobriety leads to better skin since you will be more hydrated. What’s more, people who are sober tend to eat better, which has a knock-on effect on the skin. The more fruit and veg you eat, the healthier your skin will look.

12. Improved mental health

Though not strictly a physical benefit of sobriety, improved mental health can have knock-on physical benefits.

People who suffer from depression are more likely to eat badly, sleep badly and exercise little. If your mental health is better, these cornerstones of physical health are likely to improve as well.

Final thoughts

The benefits listed above show just how important sobriety is to physical health.

If you had any doubts about getting sober, we hope this has convinced you it is worthwhile!

References

[1] https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet

[2] https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/are-you-at-risk-of-stroke/high-blood-pressure

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827719/

 

boris

Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.