Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction
Table of Contents
- When Alcohol Use Becomes a Disorder
- Side Effects of Alcohol Consumption
- Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol
- Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol Timeline
- Moderation or Cold Turkey?
- Can An Alcohol Detox Benefit Everybody?
When Alcohol Use Becomes a Disorder
It’s with you at dinner, celebrations, Sunday’s football game, or even brunch with the gals. Alcohol has become a key element in the diet of many Americans. It has seeped into the rhythm of our daily lives through references in music, movies, literature, and of course dining. It has managed to supersede religious, ethnic, and social diversities. According to a national survey, 85% of Americans have consumed alcohol this past year. This begs the question, is alcohol truly as harmless as it’s portrayed?
While many people can safely moderate their alcohol consumption, the reality is not quite the same for the 14.8 million Americans who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder. For those with AUD, their inability to stop or control their alcohol intake dramatically interferes with their lives. A mix of environmental and biological conditions can lead to one’s spiral into alcohol dependence. Once the addiction has begun, it can be excruciatingly challenging to stop. While recovery is always possible, it is not an easy road. For this reason and many others outlined below, it can be beneficial for many to avoid alcohol completely.
Side Effects of Alcohol Consumption
To understand the benefits of no alcohol consumption, we must first examine the side effects of drinking alcohol. When you consume alcohol, you likely experience a few short-term symptoms. Maybe you feel a bit dizzy, out of control, or experience the famous hangover headaches. These symptoms will pass quickly; however, long-term excessive alcohol use affects the body in many ways.
According to the NIAA, alcohol effects on the body can include the following conditions and changes. Prolonged excessive alcohol use has been linked to a number of life-threatening conditions.
Below is a breakdown of alcohol’s possible effect on some of our bodies’ vital organs.
- Brain– Alcohol changes the brain’s communication channels. This affects mood and behavior, making it challenging to think clearly.
- Heart– Excessive alcohol consumption can damage one’s heart. A few heart conditions associated with alcoholism are Cardiomyopathy, Arrhythmias, stroke, and high blood pressure.
- Liver– Alcohol is known to cause inflammation in one’s liver. This can lead to a fatty liver, Alcoholic hepatitis, Fibrosis, and Cirrhosis.
- Cancer– There are many forms of cancer that are linked to alcohol, and alcohol has been labeled a carcinogen. Specifically, a link has been found in alcohol and head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancer.
- Pancreas-Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances.
- Immune system– Alcohol can weaken the immune system. This can cause a person to be more susceptible to flu, infections, and viruses.
Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol
Paradoxically, not drinking alcohol has been linked to many benefits throughout the body.
Better Looking Skin – Heavy alcohol consumption can dry out one’s skin. It can also cause psoriasis, jaundice, and broken capillaries on the face.
Improved Sleep – Alcohol is closely linked with difficulty sleeping. It disturbs the regular sleep pattern; therefore, refraining from alcohol consumption can help sleep.
Healthier Weight – One of the side effects of alcohol is its effect on your metabolism. It is also high in calories and sugar. Regaining a healthy weight is often a benefit of reducing alcohol consumption.
Mental Health – Alcoholism often comes together with many mental health issues. Those who struggle with addiction may have a personality disorder, anxiety, or depression alongside it. While there is no clear established link between alcohol and mental illness, scientists speculate that people may use substances to self-medicate. As someone reaches sobriety, their mental health usually improves.
Better Immunity – Alcohol slows down the immune system by blocking the production of enough white blood cells needed to fight off infection. People who don’t consume alcohol are less susceptible to colds, flu, and conditions.
Nutrition – Drinking heavily can lead to malnutrition and strain one’s nutrition. When someone stops drinking, they often see an improvement in their gut health.
Cancer – Alcohol has been linked to multiple cancers. Refraining from alcohol lowers one’s risk of developing cancer.
Heart – Alcohol leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Thinking and Memory – The hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and learning, shrinks from alcohol. Stopping drinking alcohol can allow the brain’s structure to correct itself.
Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol Timeline
Generally, the benefits of not drinking alcohol are felt immediately by most heavy drinkers. After a few days, hangover symptoms will disappear. However, there can also simultaneously be withdrawal symptoms experienced.
The following breaks down the timeline of alcohol withdrawal.
The benefits of not drinking alcohol for one week are:
- Sleep improvement
- Weight loss
- Better skin
- Improved blood sugar levels
The benefits of not drinking alcohol for one month are.
- Decreased cancer risk
- Decreased liver fat
- Immune system boost
- Better fertility
- Improved brain function
- Better impulse control
The benefits of not drinking alcohol for a year are that symptoms will generally completely disappear at this point.
Moderation or Cold Turkey?
When you decide to quit alcohol, you may have an overwhelming sense of wanting to stop right now. However, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be intense, and often, it is crucial to detox slowly from alcohol. Many programs and support groups can help you on the journey to recovery and quitting. With most habits, breaking them, cold turkey can have unwanted repercussions. When someone stops alcohol, if their body has become dependent on alcohol, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, if you drink alcohol excessively, seek medical guidance before quitting.
Can An Alcohol Detox Benefit Everybody?
Across social media and the wellness community, a new trend of an alcohol-free lifestyle has been taking root. Dry January is trending with people reporting notable positive changes from even one month of an alcohol-free lifestyle. There are even numerous mocktail brands that have successfully made their way into the hearts of the wellness community. People are reporting back that they experienced higher levels of productivity, deeper social interactions, and better health from alcohol detox. While for an addict in recovery a life without alcohol is a consequence of sobriety, many other people can benefit from a sober life as well. It is worth a try for everybody.
To learn more about side effects and physical signs of alcoholism, read our online resources.
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