For many, stopping drinking may seem like a daunting challenge, and it’s especially hard for those dependent on alcohol. People with an alcohol use disorder often feel as if they cannot enjoy life at all without drinking. And despite all of the adverse effects it wreaks on many areas of their lives, they continue to consume it.
Fortunately, however, countless individuals have shown that recovery is possible, and, over time, the benefits of not drinking alcohol become evident. Through long-term sobriety, many people have been able to improve their lives in a number of ways, including the following:
Alcohol isn’t a healthy substance—it’s a toxin. When an individual drinks alcohol heavily, the body is forced to work harder to process it. The liver can be pushed to the very limit attempting to metabolize it as the brain struggles to restore equilibrium, and the heart begins to pump at an irregular rate.
Those who don’t drink or drink minimally tend to be healthier in a variety of ways. They aren’t as susceptible to alcohol’s effects on the body., and because their system is free from toxins, it can focus its efforts elsewhere.
Drinking is also detrimental to mental health. Excessive drinking often leads people to make choices they will ultimately regret. Thus, alcohol abuse is often linked to feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse. Over time, this can be harmful to an individual’s emotional health. In fact, one of the best benefits of not drinking alcohol is the cessation of guilt.
Alcohol dehydrates the body because it is a diuretic. Dehydration can result in drier skin that loses its elasticity more rapidly than it would otherwise. As such, excessive, extended alcohol use tends to make drinkers look older than they really are.
Drinking also causes inflammation in the body’s tissues, and this is why some people experience flushing in the face when they consume alcohol. Initially, the redness may subside once alcohol is cleared from their system, but eventually, constant inflammation can damage their skin and become more permanent.
Alcohol can also decrease levels of collagen, a protein that connects skin cells and strengthens tissue. As it breaks down, skin starts to appear more loose and saggy.
The benefits of quitting drinking alcohol aren’t just physical—there are financial benefits, as well. Any person who drinks regularly is well aware that the cost of alcohol addiction can quickly add up. When purchased on occasion, the price of a couple of beers or a bottle of wine may be only a few dollars. But, when an individual drinks on an everyday basis, the costs accumulate over time, possibly into the thousands, every year.
Also, ill-informed decisions often accompany drinking alcohol. If any legal issues occur (e.g., a DUI), the cost can be enormous. Alcoholics who are in recovery are usually quite happy to find that their wallets are much fatter after stopping use.
Alcohol is packed full of calories and has little nutritional value. The body processes alcohol as sugar, which is eventually stored as fat. Those who drink excessively often weigh more than those who drink recreationally or not at all. In fact, research has shown heavy alcohol use has been linked to obesity. The more an individual drinks, the more likely it is that they’ll carry extra unwanted weight.
Of course, some individuals have higher metabolisms than others, and their activity levels vary as well. These factors play a critical role in how much a person weighs. Therefore, there is not necessarily a direct association between a person’s weight and the amount of alcohol they drink. But if someone is looking to lose some weight, abstaining from alcohol is a great start.
New Activities and Hobbies
Drinking takes up a lot of time, and upon adding day-slowing hangovers, you will probably discover that you have more time to be productive after you stop. Finding a new hobby or activity (or renewed interest in an old one) is often essential for maintaining sobriety.
Some former alcoholics turn to exercise, painting, gardening, or playing golf. It’s not important what the hobby or activity is, as long as it gives the individual something enjoyable with which to occupy themselves and fill the time they would otherwise waste on drinking.
Healthy Liver Functioning
Excessive alcohol consumption is notoriously harmful to the liver. When someone drinks to excess, the liver exhausts itself to process it. In severe instances, alcoholics can develop liver disease, including fatty liver, hepatitis, or cirrhosis. These problems can lead to both internal and external damage to the body, and liver cirrhosis is extremely serious and also permanent.
The liver is a regenerating organ and can often repair itself when given enough time to do so. It produces new cells to fix problems that arise. Alcohol undermines the regenerative system, however, and when consumed in excess, the liver has a harder time regenerating itself.
With extended alcohol consumption, over time, the liver may become less able to function and be inflamed, fatty, or scarred. To prevent existing damage from getting worse, heavy alcohol drinkers should quit drinking and give their liver some time to recover.
When an individual stops drinking, his or her liver will begin to flush out the leftover toxins produced over time. This process can last as long as several weeks, but in some cases, it may take as long as a few years. After the byproducts have been eliminated, the liver can be restored to normal functioning.
Some types of liver damage, such as cirrhosis, are permanent. In most instances, however, those who decide to abstain from drinking alcohol will notice the benefits of abstaining within a few months.
Making Amends and Righting Wrongs
Most individuals have done things that they feel ashamed for and regret, but excessive drinkers tend to engage in even more lamentable behavior. One of the greatest benefits of stopping alcohol use is having the opportunity to apologize for past transgressions. Abstinence gives people the chance to make amends for their wrongs.
Alcoholics often behave in ways that result in conflict with family or friends, who may respond by distancing themselves. But, when the person stops drinking, this is concrete proof that he or she is taking steps toward recovery and becoming a better person.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, alcohol consumption can interfere with quality sleep, despite its depressant effects.
According to sleep experts, drinking alcohol represses REM sleep, can exacerbate breathing problems and may lead to an increased need to urinate and make frequent trips to the bathroom. The benefits of not drinking alcohol, therefore, include an improved night’s sleep with feelings of restfulness and more energy the next day.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Many people find it difficult to quit drinking on their own. Most addiction professionals advise those who are dependent on alcohol to enroll in an integrated treatment program that focuses on evidence-based services, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, individual and group counseling, and peer group support.
Just Believe Recovery employs highly-trained addiction specialists who deliver these services to each individual we treat with compassion and expertise. We provide people with the tools, resources, and support they need to achieve sobriety and enjoy long-lasting health and wellness.
If you are suffering from alcohol addiction, please contact us as soon as you can to discover how we can help you get started on your recovery journey!