Deciding to quit drinking alcohol can come with a number of benefits. Whether a person has noticed an unhealthy pattern of drinking, is completely dependent on alcohol, or simply wants to give up alcohol for health reasons, anyone can experience the positive changes in the mind and body that come when the drink is put down.
For some people, quitting alcohol may be simple, or at least it will not cause withdrawal symptoms. However, for individuals who have been abusing or dependent on alcohol for an extended period of time, a treatment program will likely be recommended. Vertava Health offers several programs that focus on helping people quit drinking and reclaim their lives in sobriety.
While the thought of giving up alcohol may seem daunting, the benefits a person can experience and the improvement in overall health and wellbeing are worth it for many.
Why Do People Give Up Alcohol?
For someone who rarely drinks, the idea of giving up alcohol may never cross their minds. However, for the millions of Americans who regularly consume – and abuse – alcohol, quitting the substance may be a short-term or long-term goal. Additionally, people who struggle with alcohol use disorders will also likely attempt to quit drinking in order to reclaim their lives from addiction.
Regardless of the reason why someone chooses to give up alcohol, the benefits can be felt by everyone. This is especially true for individuals who abuse or are addicted to the drug. It’s no secret that regular alcohol consumption can cause a number of health problems and other negative side effects. Quitting drinking is the best way to reverse many of these side effects and experience a healthy, meaningful life in sobriety.
If you are unsure whether quitting drinking is something you should consider, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I lie about or try to hide my alcohol consumption?
- Do I depend on alcohol in social settings?
- Have I lost friends or relationships due to my drinking?
- Have I experienced work or school problems as a result of my drinking?
- Have I had legal problems, such as DUIs, due to alcohol?
- Do I have a hard time controlling my drinking or often drink more than what I intended?
- Do I experience withdrawal symptoms, such as shaky hands, after a day/night of drinking?
- Have I tried and failed to give up drinking in the past?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, quitting alcohol may be a good decision. And, if you are currently experiencing alcohol addiction, giving up drinking may be necessary to prevent harmful consequences. However, even if you don’t relate to the above-mentioned questions, giving up alcohol can still provide a number of benefits that can change your life for the better.
Potential Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
While quitting drinking is certainly a good thing, some people may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they first stop. When a person suddenly quits alcohol after an extended period of regular intake or abuse, the body can go into shock. As a result, a person may experience a number of physical and psychological symptoms fo withdrawal.
Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:
- excess sweating
- rapid heart rate
- trouble sleeping
- upset stomach
For individuals who are severely dependent on alcohol, more extreme and even dangerous symptoms may be experienced. These symptoms may include delirium tremens, which can cause seizures, confusion, hallucinations, and even death. People who are physically dependent on alcohol should attend a medically supervised detox program when quitting alcohol to prevent potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a day of quitting drinking and can last up to a week. The most severe symptoms are usually experienced two to three days after stopping alcohol. While certainly uncomfortable, withdrawal symptoms will pass and the positive benefits of giving up alcohol will begin to be felt.
Physical Effects Of Quitting Alcohol
Many people will begin to experience the physical benefits of quitting alcohol shortly after giving up the substance. Others may slowly begin to experience the physical effects of quitting drinking. How long and how much a person was drinking prior to quitting will influence the level of physical benefits experienced.
Physical effects of quitting alcohol may include:
- Stronger Immune System — Excessive alcohol consumption can decrease a person’s immune system and its ability to fight off infection and illness. In fact, heavy drinkers are more likely to contract diseases such as pneumonia. Quitting alcohol can immediately improve the immune system and increase a person’s ability to fight illness.
- Weight Gain Or Loss — Many people experience weight gain as a result of regular alcohol consumption. On the flip side, some individuals may lose weight from not prioritizing nutrition while actively drinking. When a person quits drinking, he or she may lose or gain weight depending on the individual’s previous habits when drinking.
- Better Sleep — While alcohol is depressant and can cause individuals to feel sleepy, it doesn’t do much in the way of helping people actually stay asleep. In fact, heavy alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep and prevent a person from getting high-quality sleep. Excessive drinking may also cause irregularities in breathing while sleeping. Quitting drinking can provide an almost immediate improvement in overall sleep quality.
- Decreased Risk Of Cancer — Regular alcohol consumption can harm antibodies that fight cancer. This can increase a person’s risk of a number of different cancers, including throat, breast, and liver cancer. Quitting drinking can greatly decrease an individual’s chances of cancer.
- Improved Digestion — Chronic alcohol consumption can cause damage to the pancreas and decrease the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. This can result in poor digestion and other health issues such as nausea, anorexia, and chronic diarrhea. Quitting drinking can improve digestion and increase the absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
- Improved Cardiovascular Health — Heavy drinking can significantly impact the heart and cause damage to its muscles. People who drink chronically are at an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and hypertension. Giving up alcohol can reduce the risk of heart problems and strengthen the heart.
As the body heals from alcohol abuse, a person will experience more and more physical benefits of giving up the substance. Some physical effects may take longer than others to be felt. However, overall, quitting drinking can provide a number of significant physical health benefits.
Mental Effects Of Quitting Alcohol
Physical changes aren’t the only benefits that come with giving up alcohol; many people will also experience a number of psychological effects as well. Individuals will likely feel more mentally clearer and less foggy as well as more emotionally stable after quitting drinking.
Other mental effects of quitting alcohol may include:
- Improved Memory — Regular alcohol consumption can affect the brain’s ability to store memories. This can result in forgetfulness that may interfere with daily life. Once a person stops drinking, he or she will likely experience better memory retention.
- Healthier Brain Function — Several parts of the brain can become damaged as a result of chronic alcohol abuse. This damage can lead to a number of problems, including depression, trouble sleeping, and a decrease in brain cells. Quitting drinking can allow the brain to heal and will likely result in increased cognition and overall brain function.
- Reduced Depression And Anxiety — Many people who abuse or are addicted to alcohol experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. When a person quits drinking, he or she will likely have reduced symptoms of these conditions.
Additionally, quitting alcohol after struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction can be liberating. Individuals may feel more confident and sure of themselves and their decisions in life. Many people also experience improvements in social and work settings.
Treatment Programs For Overcoming Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Some people may be able to quit alcohol on their own. Others, however, may need professional help to successfully give up drinking. Additionally, individuals who are physically dependent on alcohol should not attempt to stop drinking on their own, as they may experience serious and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Vertava Health offers a number of treatment programs for individuals of every walk of life looking to overcome an addiction to alcohol.
To learn more about what happens when you stop drinking alcohol or to get more information on the alcohol addiction programs we offer, contact an Vertava Health’ treatment specialist today.