Many people indulge in drinking alcohol on a semi-regular basis. Whether it’s a glass of wine in the evening or a bottle of beer with your friends, it’s not unusual to drink, and it’s not an inherently negative thing to do.
But at the same time, alcohol isn’t exactly a healthy thing either. Plus, going overboard with drinking can have severe adverse effects on your life. If that seems to be the case for you, it may be time to wean yourself off the substance. Don’t believe that stopping can be good for you? Here are ten positive changes in your body when you stop drinking.
1. Your Sleep Gets Better If You Stop Drinking Alcohol
If you’ve ever drunk a significant amount of alcohol, you’ve probably noticed that you seem to get sleepy right after. This may make you think that alcohol is good for sleep, but that isn’t the case. While it can make you tired and quicken your rate of drifting off, it can also prevent you from getting proper restorative sleep. That’s why you still feel exhausted the next day after drinking!
According to studies, this because alcohol can cause the following problems:
- Alcohol messes with your sleep-wake cycles and throws off your Circadian rhythm.
- It prevents you from getting deep sleep, which is necessary for proper rest.
- Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, which can increase your risk of sleep apnea or even make you snore more.
It’s true that at first when you stop drinking alcohol, you may find it harder to sleep. But if you keep at it and practice positive bedtime and sleep habits, you’ll notice that your sleep quality improves significantly and will feel much fresher and sharper every morning.
2. When You Quit Drinking Alcohol, Your Digestion Will Improve
Your liver is an integral part of the process of digestion, as it naturally filters out toxins from the body and helps to cleanse you of anything you probably don’t want to digest. But when you drink a lot of alcohol, you’re forcing your liver to work overtime, making it stop working on everything else to filter and metabolize the ethanol and toxins in alcohol. This is why drinking too much can:
- Lead to fatty liver disease
- Cause liver inflammation
- Result in cirrhosis or liver failure
Luckily, the liver bounces back quickly. So if you quit drinking before it’s damaged, it can recover and be back to good, working shape within a few weeks.
But digestion still suffers, even when we take the liver out of the equation. This is because the human digestive system has trouble dealing with alcohol, managing it differently than other toxins and substances. For example:
- Alcohol from fermented drinks, including wine and beer, cause an overproduction of gastric acid in the stomach.
- Excessive alcohol intake can irritate the stomach and even damage the gastrointestinal tract and lining.
- Alcohol begins to damage food-digesting cells the moment it enters your body.
- Alcohol can increase your risk of ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract.
3. Your Skin Looks Better
Have you ever noticed that alcoholics tend to have bad skin, significantly notably reddish patches all over their face? This is because alcohol does multiple different things to your body that are all bad for your skin! This includes:
- Broken facial or nose capillaries
- Lower levels of collagen that cause the skin to sag or appear loose
- Dehydration that causes dry skin
- Inflammation that causes acne and other problems
- Higher risk of jaundice
- Higher risk of psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease, according to studies.
When you stop drinking, you’ll find that your skin will regain elasticity and lose much of the yellowing and redness that was occurring from alcohol.
4. Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease Drops
Did you know that drinking alcohol is bad for your heart? No amount of positive thinking can save you from the statistics: heavy drinks have twice as high a chance of passing away within 24 hours than those who don’t drink, which increases to six times as likely in just a week.
Even if you don’t immediately get a severe sign of disease, it is worth noting that misuse of alcohol can increase the risk of cardiovascular issues like:
- Ischemic stroke
- Atrial fibrillation
- Myocardial infarction
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- Heart failure
You may not immediately see the results on your heart when you stop drinking, but the science has it all laid out for you – if you drink, you’re at higher risk for heart disease, and that’s a pretty good reason to stop!
5. Your Immunity Gets Stronger When You Stop Drinking Alcohol
To fight bacteria, germs, viruses, and other unwanted microorganisms, the human body needs to produce enough white blood cells. But when you drink heavily, the alcohol messes up your immune system, leaving you with too few of those positive cells to keep you safe. This is also why those who drink heavily often struggle with diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia.
As soon as you stop drinking, your immune system will begin to repair itself. You’ll notice that you’re less susceptible to illness, colds, and flu, and you’ll be healthier and stronger for it!
A lot of people use alcohol as a coping mechanism for poor mental health. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in America shows that a whopping 9.2 million adults in the United States experienced a substance use disorder and a mental illness at the same time in 2018. Still, a shocking 60% of them didn’t receive any form of treatment. Common alcohol-drinking comorbidities include:
- Bipolar disorder
The exact links between addiction rates and mental illness are a little bit fuzzy, but the bottom line is that they seem to be in a bit of a deadly cycle. Those with mental illness may try to self-medicate with alcohol, but then the alcohol worsens the illness, so they drink more of it. It’s a perilous trap to fall into.
At first, when you stop drinking, you may feel that your mental illnesses have gotten worse as the withdrawal sets in. Seek professional help if necessary, and once you wait off that first difficult roller coaster, you’ll notice that you have a clearer head and much fewer symptoms of your disorders at lower severity.
7. You’ll Be More Hydrated
Did you know that alcohol is a diuretic? This means that it makes you excrete moisture and hydration from your body through urination at a faster rate. After drinking a lot, you may notice that your bladder seems to yell at you to go to the bathroom more often.
The cycle of this is: alcohol causes the levels of antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, in your body to drop. That antidiuretic hormone is crucial for informing your kidneys that you need them to retain water, so the drop in them means your kidneys start reducing their water retention, making you need to go to the bathroom more often.
As soon as you stop drinking, you will immediately notice a significant change in how often you take bathroom breaks. Of course, that means you’ll also be more hydrated. The human body is naturally made up of mostly water – you need it for circulation, waste removal, body temperature maintenance, positive thinking and wellbeing, and much more. All bodily functions require you to be hydrated to work at their best, and when you stop drinking alcohol, you’ll be able to restore these functions.
8. You’ll Receive Better Nutrition
When you drink, you wind up with a lot less nutrition than you need. This is because:
- Alcohol depletes the crucial nutrients in your body.
- A lot of alcoholics “drink” their meals instead of eating proper food.
- Alcohol messes with your body’s ability to digest, store, use, and excrete nutrients properly, which can wind up in a lack of positive nutrients and even cause malnourishment.
If you stop drinking, your body will begin to re-regulate how it uses nutrients, allowing your body to use the food stores that it has properly. You’ll also feel more motivated to eat proper meals, which your body will further thank you for. This is also why many people lose weight or develop a healthier body composition when they stop drinking alcohol.
9. When You Quit Drinking Alcohol, Your Memory and Thinking Will Improve
Have you ever noticed that you tend to get forgetful when you drink? That’s because consuming adult beverages often affects your hippocampus, the part of the brain that is crucial for functions like learning and memory, according to research. In fact, alcohol makes that part of the brain shrink!
Unfortunately, you won’t notice positive changes in your brain right away when you first stop drinking, as alcohol can genuinely mess up the way your mind functions as an organ. But in a few months or a year, the structural changes your brain has endured will start to correct themselves, and you’ll get better at:
- Maintaining attention span
- Utilizing positive thinking skills
- Remembering things
- Solving problems
10. Your Risk Of Cancer Drops If You Stop Drinking Alcohol
Lots of people are afraid of developing cancer, and alcohol is a well-known carcinogen. The more you drink, the more likely you are to have this frightening disease, and the longer you drink for, the more that risk increases exponentially. You’ll put yourself at risk for:
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Colorectal cancer
On top of that, studies have shown that 3.5% of deaths from cancer in America are related to alcohol. Again, this isn’t a visible effect you’ll see when you quit drinking, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
There is nothing inherently wrong with consuming alcohol, especially if it’s only in moderation. Different people have different levels of tolerance, and it’s okay if you know your limits, know when to stop, and make sure that you keep your body in good shape.
But if people around you are beginning to express concern about how much you drink, or you find that you feel ashamed of your drinking habits, or perhaps if you’ve noticed your health going downhill lately, it may be time to make some changes to your practices. Quitting drinking will bring so many positive results for your body and mind!
If you need help kicking a drinking habit, please know that many people and organizations out there are willing to and happy to help you. You don’t have to go through the process alone, and you’ll be glad you stuck it out when you see all the significant changes to your body and mind!