The Good Outweighs the Bad When You Quit Drinking
There are lots of reasons why you might decide to take a break from drinking. You might find that your health is getting compromised, your mood is different or you don't like feeling like you need to grab a drink at the end of the day to relax or during social occasions. As you consider parting ways with alcohol, you might wonder what to expect. Below are some of the effects that you may experience once you choose to get sober.
You May Experience Withdrawal
This side effect is worth the temporary discomfort. Many people experience symptoms such as shakiness, nausea and panic attacks after a night of heavy drinking. You may find yourself craving alcohol again to quell these symptoms, but this is the cyclical pattern that you can end up trapping yourself in when you drink too much.
The good news is that you’ll notice these symptoms subsiding after about 72 hours of cutting out the booze, depending on how heavily you drink. These symptoms are usually worse for heavy users. Seek medical supervision if you feel that you need to during this process.
You May Lose Weight
Every alcoholic beverage that you consume provides unnecessary calories to your system that your body has to burn off later. Even if you normally stick to drinking light beer or a vodka with soda, it’s likely that you’ll still lose a little weight once you cut out the booze.
Each alcoholic drink contains an average of 100 calories, but drinks mixed with sodas and juices can be much higher in calories. Not only will cutting out booze decrease your calorie intake, but it will also decrease signs of facial and belly bloating that come with the territory of heavier drinking.
Your Digestive Health Improves
Do you ever experience diarrhea, bloating or gas after a night of binge drinking? This happens because your body is unable to break down and process the alcohol effectively.
Alcohol consumption not only increases acid production in your stomach, but it also disables the transport of some nutrients into your blood. It's common for people who binge drink to usually have poor diets too. This means that not only are you getting fewer nutrients when you drink, but alcohol is also preventing your body from digesting the ones that you really need.
Your Heart Will Be Healthier
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Alcohol can cause an increase in blood pressure and weaken the heart. This can eventually lead a drinker to have a stroke and increase their risk of having a heart attack.
Drinking more alcohol can weaken your heart muscle, which makes it harder for the organ to pump blood all around your body. However, cutting out booze can keep your heart in better shape in the long run. That's because when you lessen your drinking, you also lessen your chances of heart disease.
You Will Have Less Heartache
In the same way that alcohol can increase your risk of developing heart disease, it can also increase your risk of experiencing heartbreak. A night out can lead to engaging in sexual behavior that you’d be less likely to involve yourself in when sober.
Sex while you’re intoxicated can be risky. Alcohol impairs your judgment, and you may end up practicing unsafe sex. This can lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and even depression. Waking up next to a stranger after gulping down drinks may lead to a series of unwanted interactions, hurt feelings and regrets.
Your Relationships Will Improve
Drinking often starts as a social event. You may find it hard to develop or further relationships without meeting your friend, spouse or co-worker for a drink. The undeniable truth is that, in the long run, this strategy fails.
Why doesn't it work? For starters, the people who love you will want your full attention, and this isn't something you can give them if you're intoxicated. In addition, couples report arguing often while intoxicated. Friends may start to find you flakey if you cancel on them due to another hangover. Sobriety makes it easier to maintain authentic relationships.
People Will Start to See You as Reliable
As your relationships start to improve after you quit drinking, you might also begin to notice that you become more reliable. Hangovers no longer take precedence over your life and force you to cancel plans. You won’t worry about when and where you’ll get your next drink.
You’ll be able to spend more time doing the things that matter instead of spending time at the bar. People will see that you’re more available to them again. You’ll even begin to see yourself as more dependable, and this can improve your self-worth.
You Will Feel Worthy
Alcohol can lead to depression, feelings of worthlessness and even suicide. Many people admit to drinking as a way to gain courage. The unfortunate truth is that the courageous buzz you get when you start drinking is a false sense of security, and it won't last.
After you quit drinking, you’ll find that your self-esteem will start to improve. You’ll begin to tackle your demons with a sober mind, and you’ll start to see yourself as someone who’s worthy of life rather than someone who wants to escape from it.
Your Rational Mind Will Return
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can impair your judgment, slur your speech, lessen your reaction time and even cause memory loss. There’s nothing worse than blacking out the events of the night before.
Once you quit drinking, you’ll notice that your decision-making skills return. You won't have to worry about making an irrational choice that could lead to more suffering. If you make an irrational decision while you're sober, at least you can rule alcohol out of it and really get to the bottom of why you made the choice you did.
Multitasking Can Become a New Tool
Alcohol slows down your brain function. This means that it becomes less likely to process multiple things you need to think about, let alone help you focus on that one thing you’ve already been putting off.
Upon quitting drinking, your natural adrenaline levels will start to increase. Between this and speeding up your brain function, you’ll feel energized and start to complete everything on your to-do list. Alcohol will no longer be a primary distraction in your life, and you’ll begin to prioritize tasks without the lack of concentration you had in your drinking days.
You'll Regain Others' Trust
Alcohol can make people do crazy things. Many people who are involved in criminal acts have admitted to the use of drugs or alcohol before the crime.
Once you quit using alcohol, it’ll be easier to regain the trust of people you care about. Depending on how severe your drinking was, this could take a lot of time and effort, but one day people will again see your words and actions as trustworthy. As you regain their trust, you’ll begin to see yourself in a new light. Damaging habits your drinking caused will stop controlling your life.
You Appear Fully Reliable
You know that coworker who goes to a work party and ends up getting thrown out of the bar for starting fights with the staff? After seeing this happen, it’s entirely possible that their team will begin to feel that they can't take the coworker anywhere or trust them with important tasks.
You don’t want to be this person or compromise your income or professional reputation. Once you quit drinking, you can maintain the best possible image of yourself and for yourself. You'll no longer have to worry about giving a false impression because you were drunk. And you won’t risk your career.
Anxiety May No Longer Be an Issue
Maybe you’re already an anxious person, or you typically feel uneasy most days. Although you think alcohol may help you cope with this, it actually does the opposite. Alcohol alters your blood sugar levels, and these swings contribute to anxiety.
In addition, it may cause behaviors that make you unsteady. For example, you may have visibly shaky hands after a night of drinking. In turn, this becomes embarrassing and increases your anxiety around others. Once you quit, you’ll feel less anxiety and more freedom during your everyday activities.
You Can Cultivate a More Active Lifestyle
Maybe alcohol has you feeling overweight, depressed, dehydrated and unable to complete the simplest tasks. Without it, though, you'll likely lose weight, gain a better sense of yourself and become more active and engaged in life.
It’s hard to do some physical activity after a night of drinking, but without alcohol, exercising can become something you look forward to. Being active increases your dopamine levels where alcohol once depleted them. Using alcohol less also means you're less dehydrated, so it gets easier to maintain a more active lifestyle — healthfully.
You’ll Boost Your Learning Curve
Every conversation you had when you were drinking seemed to repeat itself. If you were learning something new, you were too drunk to even remember.
You'll notice that, without alcohol, your brain can process and retain information faster. Instead of drinking to relieve boredom, you can read — and learn. Removing alcohol from your life can stimulate your brain function and make you crave knowledge. This is something you might not have had the patience for or ability to do after multiple drinks.
You'll Make Better Friends
Most people worry about losing friends once they cut out the booze. Your drinking buddies shouldn't shame you for having a seltzer instead. If they do, you’ll see with sober eyes who they really are as individuals. They may just be enablers or people who are looking for confirmation of their own unhealthy behaviors.
Not drinking will allow you to meet people who do things that you’re curious about, and you can make new friends with healthy hobbies. You’ll see as you age that a lot of people quit drinking, whether it's for medical or personal reasons, so you won't be alone.
Your Mental Health Will Improve
Drinking puts a damper on your mood because alcohol is a nervous system depressant. Regular drinking changes the levels of your brain's serotonin, the chemical that helps you feel happy. Many people want to drink to alleviate painful feelings, but the problem is that alcohol causes them over time.
Hangovers worsen over time, and they may cause you to feel anxious or depressed. Cutting out booze can cause a significant improvement to your mental health. You won't get stuck in the cyclical pattern of drinking to self-medicate, and you can focus on staying happy naturally.
You'll Drop Other Bad Habits
You might think of alcohol as a "gateway drug." For example, non-smokers may become "social smokers" when they drink. They might get addicted to nicotine and become regular smokers. Even worse, some people might find themselves dabbling with harder drugs when they’re intoxicated.
Booze clouds your mind and judgment, so it makes it easier to do things you’d never do if you were sober. Once you quit drinking, you’re less likely to participate in other addictive activities like gambling, drug use and even adultery. You'll never have to regret the decisions you made when you were drunk again once you quit.
You’re Less Likely to Get Injured
Consuming a lot of alcohol impacts your speech, coordination and reaction time. This multi-layered impairment is part of why alcohol is a factor in almost 30% of traffic-related deaths. But it raises your risk of other injuries, too.
Your bones get thinner as you age, and the next time you fall while drunk, it could really hurt you. The rate of hip fractures increases with alcohol use for older adults. Unintentional injuries make up the majority of alcohol-related deaths, and you’ll be less likely to be part of this statistic once you quit.
Your Skin Will Look Better
Alcohol is a diuretic. When your body isn’t properly hydrated, this can cause your skin to look sallow and dull. Alcohol also has an inflammatory effect on your body, which means it can make you look swollen and unkempt even after a full night of sleep.
Once you quit drinking, you’re more likely to stick to your nightly skin care regimen because you won’t pass out before taking care of your hygiene tasks. You’ll be less dehydrated, your skin won't be as saggy and your fine lines won't show as much. Now, it's up to you to treat your skin well without worrying about how alcohol harms it over time.
You'll Get Better Sleep
Whether you close down the bar and leave yourself little time to rest before your job or you get a full night's sleep after a few drinks, you might still feel very tired and hungover the next day. That’s because alcohol blocks REM sleep.
This type of deep sleep is the reason you feel rested after you wake up. But the more you drink, the harder it is for your brain to reach this deep level of rejuvenation. Cutting out the booze will help you restore these patterns, and it’ll give your body the rest it deserves.
You'll Have Fewer Migraines
Alcohol can cause an immediate migraine after a few drinks. It can also cause the migraine you may feel the next day during a hangover. In addition, any sugary mixer you have can increase the likelihood that you experience this, even though any alcoholic drink can trigger a headache.
Alcohol affects about a third of people who are prone to migraines. As a result, cutting out alcohol can lower your risk of migraines, just as it makes it easier for you to function on a daily basis.
Your Dental Hygiene Will Improve
You may already stay away from red wine because you know that it stains your teeth. So, why does your breath smell? Your body excretes some of the alcohol you consume through your mouth as it processes the intoxicant. This makes it hard to keep your breath fresh.
We know that alcohol causes dehydration, but it also decreases saliva production. This makes it easy for bacteria to make their home in your mouth and leads to bad breath, cavities and even gum disease. When you quit drinking, you’re more capable of reversing the onset of this damage.
Your Liver Will Love You
No type of alcohol is all that safe for your liver, which processes about 90% of the alcohol you consume. This can cause fat or scar tissue to build up in your liver and even stop your liver from working entirely.
Alcohol causes four out of five deaths from liver disease, but you may avoid this if you choose to abstain. Not drinking can lower your chances of developing conditions such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, fatty liver disease and liver failure. Symptoms of liver disease don't show until significant damage has occurred, so it’s best to stop drinking before it becomes too late.
You'll Gain a New Perspective
You might find yourself drinking when you’re in crisis or feel like you’re at a crossroads. Many alcoholics have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives. For some, one day of drinking can turn into years of numbing the pain.
Once you put down the bottle, you’ll be able to fully heal and restore yourself. There are other tools available to guide you to a better vision for your life — the possibilities are endless. And besides, nobody wants to wake up one day having years of their life wasted to drinking. You have control over your life.
You May Live Longer
An estimated 88,000 people per year die from alcohol-related causes. Alcohol can also lead to many other health issues in later years. Quitting this habit can increase your chances of living a longer and healthier life.
It’s easier to maintain a better diet when you aren't drinking. You might also find you’re more likely to cut out other bad habits such as smoking. Getting the proper amount of rest for your body is easier, too. Of course you can’t prevent death completely, but you can lower your chances of dying early from drinking too much.
You'll Save Money
It's no surprise that, once you quit drinking, you suddenly have a fatter wallet. Although you may have felt like you were saving money by choosing happy hours over nightclubs, ultimately, the money that you were spending on alcohol can go towards something better.
You’ll have more discretionary income to put to use for the things that really matter. You can pay down debts or help your child afford college. Or, you might put the money you were spending on alcohol every week into a vacation fund and take the trip of a lifetime.
You'll Feel Reality at Its Finest
Alcohol gives you a false sense of self. Many introverts praise alcohol for allowing them to open up to other people. Alcohol may also help you wash away the worries of your day.
Even without alcohol, every problem and emotion will begin to creep up on you over time. But you’ll become a better individual as a whole when you allow yourself to feel "all the feels" when you’re sober. You may even find yourself doing things that alcohol had prevented you from doing in the past. It’ll be hard to believe you ever took reality for granted.
You'll Become Less Dependent
Many alcohol users become dependent on alcohol chemically, emotionally and physically after only weeks of heavier use. You may find it difficult to sit down and relax without having a drink. It can be hard to get through each day unless you have alcohol as your crutch.
With alcohol out of the picture, you can recenter yourself without having something smaller than you have control over you. You’ll feel a sense of freedom knowing that you don’t have to rely on something unhealthy to get through each day. This can inspire you to take back full control over your life and make the decisions you really want to make.
You Won't Miss It
You may experience alcoholic cravings once you quit drinking. These won’t last, though, and you won't miss drinking. You won't miss the toll on your physical appearance, the hangovers, the disappointments you may have caused, the forgetfulness or the false sense of self you had from drinking.
The positive effects of not drinking far outweigh the negative effects you’ll only experience for a short time after quitting. You’ll grasp onto the true person you are and begin to fully take things into your own hands with the freedom and improved health you deserve.