When you think of serious substance abuse problems, you often don’t think of alcohol as one of the main offenders. Most people see alcohol as the social lubricant that helps them unwind after a hard week at work or the frosty beverage at the local cookout with the neighbours.
It would seem that moderation is the key, but there will always be those who have a difficult time moderating their own alcohol consumption. This means that no matter what, alcohol will always present a potential problem for an individual’s health. It has become more than simply an occasional intoxicant, it’s become a poison that is actively eroding the health of the user.
But this addiction can go on for years, even decades, before it begins to affect the individual’s health and life enough to cause lasting or permanent, or even noticeable effects. This can lead to people prone to issues being able to quietly abuse alcohol for long periods of time before having the issue be brought to light.
By recognizing that there may be a problem with excessive consumption and choosing to give up alcohol for good, there are a ton of health and wellness benefits that can be gained. Not only long-term benefits but short-term benefits as well. Noticeable changes that the individual can begin to see in the mirror in days, helping them to stick to their decision to give up drinking for good.
Why You’d Benefit From Quitting Alcohol: Risks & Side-Effects of Drinking Alcohol
Despite its legal status and highly accepted social status, alcohol is known to have some pretty significant adverse effects on the mind and body of the person consuming it. This includes effects on both short-term and long-term health, in relative proportion to the severity of the drinking that caused the conditions.
One of the most notable side effects of drinking alcohol is that all of the interests and activities of the user begin to revolve around whether or not there will be drinking at or during the event. This creates a highly self-reinforcing social environment where drinking is not just accepted but that it is actively encouraged and not drinking may be actively discouraged or looked down on. This has a profound effect on the mental health of the individual and can require much more in-depth recovery than the physical effects.
The physical effects of drinking alcohol to excess are varied. Some can be much more serious than others, and depending on the unique circumstances of each individual there can be a wide range of severity. Some may show up sooner than others, and some may be much more severe than more commonly experienced, it will depend greatly on the recovering individual.
Physical effects often include contracting hepatitis, developing anxiety disorders or other similar conditions, heartbeat irregularities, assorted cancers, cirrhosis, early-onset dementia, pancreatitis, increased blood pressure, lost or diminished sense of hearing, varying forms of fibrosis, digestive problems of assorted and varied seriousness, elevated stroke risk, wasting due to not eating or vomiting up food, and increased risk of other injuries or infections from the risky behavior that drinking causes.
The Benefits of Quitting Alcohol
When someone makes the decision of quitting alcohol for good, they are not only putting a stop to all of the negative effects that have been becoming entrenched in the health of the user, but they are soon to enjoy the positive benefits of an alcohol-free life. The initial withdrawal process will be a momentary delay in the benefits, but once the detox has finished the individual the positive effects will be quick to appear.
Immediately, along with the clarity and mental health improvement that follows after long periods of alcohol abuse, there will be a visual reduction in what is called “alcoholic face”. The alcoholic face is the culmination of the negative effects of alcohol on the skin and tissues in the face and often manifests as reduced collagen, a saggy or loose facial appearance from chronic dehydration, irregular inflammation or swelling from having regularly consumed a toxin, and the broken capillaries in the nose of the stereotypical drunk.
Following this visual benchmark, recovering individuals may also notice that they are getting some of the most restful sleep that they can remember. Alcohol is known for disrupting the sleep cycle significantly, so quitting alcohol can bring a much more consistent wake-sleep cycle and more restful sleep. Those who previously suffered from sleep apnea or snoring may notice that these symptoms lessen or go away entirely since the relaxation of the throat muscles is not being exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
Additional benefits will be seen in the improved digestion and vitamin and mineral absorption. Alcohol is a solvent, so drinking often or in large amounts serves to strip your body of vital components like vitamins and minerals that are needed for a wide variety of bodily processes. The intestinal disruption caused by constant drinking stops and allows the natural digestive process to heal and begin providing more nutrition from the foods that are eaten. There also isn’t a large daily intake of alcohol calories that are not easily burned off in daily maintenance. This helps the body maintain a more healthy metabolism.
Best Way To Ensure You Reap The Benefits of Quitting Alcohol
If you or someone you love needs some help with an alcohol problem, you should reach out to experienced outpatient rehab professionals that can help you start your recovery process but can set you up for a lifetime of sobriety. Once the initial withdrawal process is finished, the individual can begin working on coping mechanisms and trigger identification that can help them understand when they are more likely to use. This can help them avoid situations or events that may cause a relapse in their alcohol use. This helps create a stronger foundation for their recovery and gives them the tools to help their recovery last well into the future.