If you or a loved one has a drinking problem, you are not alone. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCAD) states that one in every 12 adults in the United States suffers from alcohol dependency. Seeking help for alcohol abuse is the first step on the path to recovery and discovering the benefits of quitting drinking alcohol.
The decision to tackle your drinking problem is rife with benefits including improved physical appearance, more energy, and the opportunity to mend any damaged relationships with family and friends.
The Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is a depressant which means it slows down bodily functions including speech, normal response times, and impairs judgment.
There are two side effects of alcohol depending on the consumption amount: stimulant or depressant.
While light, social drinkers enjoy the stimulant side of the beverage and experience giddiness, heavy, chronic drinkers receive the depressant aspect.
Long-term health hazards of alcohol abuse include:
- Liver disease
- Damage to nerves
- Permanent alterations to chemical and structural components of brain
- Vitamin B1 deficiency which can cause a state of confusion, apathy or amnesia
- Gastritis (inflammation of stomach)
- Increased risk of mouth or throat cancer
Aside from the physical side effects of chronic alcohol abuse, there are also other negative effects such as increased risk of dangerous activities like drinking and driving, falling or drowning, and damaged relationships with family and friends.
According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, there were 12,998 deaths caused by alcohol-related traffic incidents in 2007 which is three times the number of American soldiers that died within the first six years of the Iraq war.
Those under the influence of alcohol are also more prone to committing violent crimes.
On average, 40 percent of violent crimes occur at the hands of those under the influence.
Good News: Quitting Drinking Alcohol for Even a Month Has Health Benefits
A study performed by the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School (UCLMS), together with New Scientist studied the effects of short-term abstinence from alcohol.
While the study was performed on social drinkers and not on those with addiction, it still shows the drastic improvements that can occur in your body in 30 days:
- Decrease in liver fat. (Fatty livers lead to liver damage.)
- Lower levels of blood glucose.
- Decrease in total blood cholesterol.
Aside from the study, here are a few other benefits of quitting drinking alcohol that anyone can benefit from:
- Weight loss. Considering that a can of beer contains on average 154 calories, you can expect to shed some weight when drinking stops (provided you eat healthily and exercise). Alcohol also causes an increase in appetite due to a heightened sense of smell.
- A better night’s rest. According to a study conducted by the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, drinking before bedtime exerts an ‘arousal’ effect on the body which can disturb normal sleep patterns. While you may initially ‘pass-out’ after a few drinks, the rest of your night is often spent tossing and turning.
- Improved hydration. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it zaps your body of much-needed water leading to poor complexion and ruddiness. Skin ailments such as eczema or rosacea may improve.
- Save money. Expenses for alcohol and related drinks quickly add up. You’ll find your wallet might be more padded now.