Deciding to stop drinking is a courageous and admirable choice. Although you may experience many challenges throughout your process of becoming alcohol-free, focusing on the ways sober life can change your physical and mental health for the better can encourage you to overcome obstacles and continue down the road to success. The long-term benefits you can experience when you quit drinking can help you live the happy, fulfilling life you deserve.
Table of contents 1. Mental Benefits 2. Mental Focus 3. Overall Well-Being 4. Physical Benefits 5. Lower Risk of Cancer 6. Improved Sleep 7. Better Skin 8. More Energy
Image via Flickr by nano.anderson
One of the main reasons people choose to stop drinking is because they realize the negative effects alcohol has on their mental health. As noted by British Columbia’s Here to Help initiative, alcohol is a depressant that affects your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord. Its impact on the central nervous system leads to slower breathing and decreased reaction times, which gradually worsen as your consumption increases. Although the effects of alcohol depend on many factors, such as your age, sex, height, weight, and genes, drinking excessively is dangerous for anyone.
When you drink, you might feel that it’s easier to talk to people and let go of your stress. However, this feeling is only temporary. The hangovers you might experience after drinking are harmful in many ways, including to your mental health. Maybe you’ve woken up the next morning and experienced intense shame or anxiety, or maybe you’ve found that your cognitive skills, like memory and ability to learn, aren’t as sharp. When you quit drinking, you’ll likely see a significant improvement in these areas.
One of the immediate changes people notice when they stop drinking is that their mental focus improves. Drinking often can lead to hangovers that make you feel confused, disjointed, tired, and unable to concentrate, even on daily tasks. Even if you don’t feel sick, you might still have trouble focusing and remembering things. When you get sober, your brain can recover from many of the effects of alcohol on your cognitive processes. Even within the first day or two, you may notice that you feel more clear-headed. Over time, you may experience other beneficial effects on your focus, such as improved:
- Reaction time.
Better Overall Well-Being
As it affects your mental health, alcohol can distress other areas of your life. Its effect on your brain can lead to a change in mood and behaviour that’s harmful to you and those around you. When you become dependent on alcohol, you might experience cravings that can lead to detrimental circumstances, such as:
- Missing work because of alcohol-related illness.
- Starting arguments with loved ones who worry about your drinking.
- Forgetting about important tasks.
- Losing money or other personal property while inebriated.
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence.
Becoming sober can help you recognize these effects on your well-being and your loved ones so you can rebuild your life and your relationships. You might find that you feel better more often, so you’re more reliable at work. You may get along better with your family and friends and regain control over your actions, finances, and other responsibilities. When you choose to embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle, you’re taking steps toward improving your entire life.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol is responsible for 5.3% of all deaths worldwide. Besides its potentially fatal effects, alcohol can also cause many serious health problems. Even if you haven’t experienced the harmful health effects of drinking, you may have noticed some physical signs that stem from alcohol use and use disorders, such as insomnia and inflammation. Quitting drinking may help you prevent, improve, or even reverse some of the physical effects of alcohol.
Lower Risk of Cancer
WHO attributes alcohol use to over 200 diseases and injuries, including cancer. While not everyone who drinks gets cancer, alcohol is a known carcinogen. According to the MD Anderson Center, the ethanol in alcohol breaks down and becomes a substance called acetaldehyde. This substance damages DNA and stops cells from repairing it, which leads to cancer cell growth. Some of the most common cancers alcohol can cause include breast, liver, colon, and throat. You may minimize your risk of developing them by choosing to stay sober, which can help you build a strong immune system.
Frequent alcohol use often leads to an abnormal sleep pattern that can affect your overall health. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard reports that poor sleep can lead to short-term and long-term issues. In the short term, you might experience cognitive changes that can affect your ability to work, drive a car, or care for your loved ones. After months or years of drinking, inadequate sleep can cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even death. When you quit drinking, you’ll likely notice that you experience more restful sleep that benefits your mood and your health.
Alcohol has a damaging effect on the skin because it reduces its elasticity. Collagen is a protein in your body that creates and strengthens connective tissues throughout your body, including your skin. This gives your skin a smooth, healthy appearance and staves off signs of aging, like wrinkles and discolouration. As the Harvard School of Public Health emphasizes, when you drink alcohol in excess, your body’s production of collagen decreases, leading to dull and saggy skin. When you quit drinking, you can begin producing adequate levels of collagen again, which can improve your skin’s appearance and health.
As we mentioned before, alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows your body’s functions. It can also decrease your immune system response and prevent you from getting restful sleep, all of which can decrease your energy and your ability to function normally throughout the day. When you quit drinking, you’ll have more energy to prioritize your responsibilities, your health, and your life.
The Canadian Centre for Addictions (CCFA) Is Here To Help
At the Canadian Centre for Addictions (CCFA), we know it’s difficult to quit drinking and stay sober. That’s why we’re here. We offer comprehensive, quality services that provide options for overcoming your drug and alcohol addiction, including flexible therapy and counselling. Contact us now to learn more about our addiction program.