Have you ever thought those evenings at happy hour are not making you so happy anymore? Do you feel like you are drinking a bit too much and need to slow down or stop? Deciding to quit drinking can cause significant changes in the body and overall health by increasing weight loss, reducing the risk of cancer, and improving your heart. Living a sober life is an important and significant step to living a healthy lifestyle. Quitting drinking without help may be a hard task for some. Many people who suffer from alcoholism seek professional support to quit. Being addicted to alcohol can change a person’s body, mind, and spirit in negative ways. However, the sooner you stop drinking the better your chances are of reversing long-term health issues.
Effects of Drinking Alcohol on the Body
Consuming alcohol slows down the communication between neurons and neurotransmitters. The neurons and neurotransmitters control the passageway to your breathing, speaking, moving, and thinking. Your cerebral cortex, brain tissue, limbic system and cerebellum become damaged with long-term or excessive drinking. This can lead to depression, mood changes, lack of sleep, lowered brain cells, and eventually alcoholism.
Alcohol lowers your immune system, and it becomes harder for your body to fight off any illnesses. Alcohol makes it harder for white blood cells to fight off harmful bacteria.
The liver breaks down the alcohol in your body by removing the harmful toxins. Consuming alcohol in excess can cause fat and harmful toxins to buildup in the liver which leads to Steatosis. Steatosis, also known as fatty liver, is the beginning signs of liver disease. Having a fatty liver can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatitis.
Drinking in excess can cause heart damage, weakening the muscles. Weakened heart muscles can lead to heart arrhythmia, stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
Risk of Cancer
Your antibodies are responsible for fighting off cells that put you at a higher risk of cancer. Alcohol can cause dangerous effects on your antibodies.
How Your Body Changes When You Quit Drinking Alcohol
There are many health benefits from choosing to quit drinking alcohol and lead a sober life. Benefits may include:
Improved digestive health
Improved sleeping patterns
The body is more hydrated
You absorb minerals and vitamins easier
Lowered sugar and calorie intake can lead to weight loss
Decreased risk of heart disease and cancers
Improved immune system
Improved memory function
What to Expect When You Stop Drinking
During the first 48 hours, your body begins to remove (detox) the harmful toxins from alcohol. It is not uncommon to feel like you are suffering from a hangover, or overall feel ill during the detox stage. If you are a heavy drinker, withdrawal symptoms may last longer than 48 hours. A few common withdrawal symptoms during detox include a rise in blood pressure, sweating, tremors or “the shakes,” trouble sleeping, headaches, and nausea. If you are a heavy drinker, it is advised that you detox under the supervision of a doctor or medical professional to help you through the withdrawal stage.
During this time, you may start to feel withdrawal symptoms. Your blood sugar should begin to return to normal. Avoid processed sugar and increase fluids to help flush your system and stay hydrated.
Once you have reached 48 hours of sobriety, the hardest part of detox is typically over. Your blood pressure and body temperature should have returned to normal. However, some individuals can still experience withdrawal symptoms such as ‘delirium tremors.’ Delirium tremors cause confusion. You can also experience shaking, hallucinations, abnormal heart rate, increased body temperature, or seizures.
Physically you may be feeling better. However, you can still experience dizziness and become shaky, especially if you are a heavy drinker.
After one week, your sleeping patterns should have improved, and you may feel more rested. Your body should become more hydrated by now causing your skin to look clearer. It is not uncommon for excessive drinkers with skin conditions such as eczema, dandruff, and rosacea, to see improvements at this time.
Your liver should start to function better. At this time your liver fat should be reduced at least by 15%, and it can adequately filter harmful toxins from your body. You may notice your energy level has increased. Relapse can occur within the first six months of recovery. It is recommended to seek emotional support from an addiction therapist or other medical professionals and a 12-step rehabilitation facility.
One year of sobriety! Congratulations! At this time, you should have noticed many changes in not only your appearance but how you feel overall. On the average, an individual loses 13 pounds after quitting drinking. The most important thing is in this milestone, your risk of developing liver, mouth, breast and other cancers have reduced as well. Your liver should also be fully functional by now.
Life After Alcohol
You can experience cravings any time during your recovery. Some cravings can happen after a few weeks, months or for some, even years later. Cravings are very common after you have consumed alcohol in excess on a regular basis. Your body adjusted to allow your desired alcohol intake and it will notice when the normal consumption is missing.
Learning to Live Without Alcohol
Now that you are aware of what happens to your mind and body during the weeks following sobriety, it is essential to know what it is like to learn how to live without alcohol. Months, even years of abusing alcohol, changes the chemical configuration of your brain. The neurotransmitters dwindle down, and when your mind believes you are depriving it of alcohol, the reduction of neurochemicals displays many symptoms that can include cognitive problems or mood swings. Some may not even realize these side effects are due to your brain healing and trying to rebalance itself. When you develop emotional issues or begin craving alcohol, here are some tips to help you stay sober:
Exercise recognition, persistence, and patience.
Contact a post-treatment program.
Involve yourself in real-life or online recovery systems and interact with individuals dealing with the same problems.
Living a sober life has many different obstacles but crossing each mile marker is the same and one step closer to regaining strength against the addiction. With the right form of treatment and seeking support from family, friends, and other former alcoholics can help you on your road to sobriety. The long-term and direct advantages of overcoming addiction outweigh the momentary and damaging high alcohol gives you.
Addiction is a very sensitive topic and being able to admit to your addiction can be hard. For alcoholics, talking about how to deal with their addiction can be harder because alcohol is everywhere. It is almost impossible for someone to go out in public without being exposed to alcohol in some way.
Am I An Alcoholic?
Advertising has helped to make alcohol a significant and accepted part of our culture. This wide acceptance of alcohol can make it hard to admit your social drinking has turned into an addiction. People suffering from alcoholism will attempt to justify why they drink in order to deny it is a problem, such as they “had a long day at work” and want to unwind. The will maintain they can stop after a certain number of drinks.
Alcoholism changes your priorities so use of alcohol comes to rule your life. This change can be slow, or it can happen without you even noticing it. Answering yes to one or more of the following questions could be an indication your drinking may be controlling your life:
- Have I developed a routine or habit centered around drinking alcohol?
- Do I become irritated or have anxiety when I cannot drink?
- Am I focusing more on alcohol than other things such as work, family, and friends?
- Do I spend more time drinking alcohol?
- Do I try to hide how much I am drinking?
Choosing to quit using alcohol is a life changing decision. Knowing the severe changes becoming sober can do to your body will prepare you for the road ahead of you. However, it is not a road that you must travel on your own. Recovering from addiction requires expert experience and support from addiction professionals. At Serenity Acres, our professionals know how to help you or a loved one battle addiction and come out on top to live the best life possible. This is done merely through individual care and treatment customized for you. We can explain everything you should expect during your withdrawal and recovery and help you decide on a treatment option. If your addiction is spiraling out of control, contact us to learn more about your road to recovery.