There are many reasons why you may want to stop drinking alcohol. Maybe your drinking habits are starting to affect your physical and mental health, or else you may have been heavily drinking for years. Either way, quitting alcohol is never easy.
However, the good definitely outweighs the bad. Cutting alcohol out of your life comes with amazing social and health benefits. We know it can be difficult to take those first steps, but recognising these benefits can help support and motivate you to quit alcohol.
Effects of Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol affects numerous aspects of your mental and physical health. Any amount of alcohol use can have its toll over time. These effects may be more intense if you are a heavy drinker. Several short term effects can be noticed while drinking alcohol or afterwards:
- feelings of relaxation
- changes in mood
- impulsive behaviours
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of coordination
These effects may not last long, but they can negatively impact your way of life by affecting your behaviour, judgment, and decision-making.
Heavy alcohol use can also cause some long term side effects; these may include:
- changes in mood
- insomnia and other sleep problems
- weakened immune system
- changes in appetite and weight
- problems with concentration and memory
- difficulty focusing
- conflict with friends or family
If you are thinking about cutting back or quitting alcohol altogether, plenty of options are available for more support and treatment.
Benefits of Giving up Alcohol
Giving up alcohol has many benefits for our physical and mental health. Alcohol can have adverse side effects on our brain, liver, heart, and gut. The good news is that this damage can heal after you stop drinking. Other benefits include:
If you drink alcohol throughout the day, it can heavily impact your quality of sleep. Alcohol interferes with your sleep schedule, duration of sleep states, and overall sleep time.
This is because alcohol disrupts two important sleep cycles: rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep. A lack of sleep can result in problems in our day-to-day lives. If you cut back on your alcohol consumption, you will have improved sleep, wake up feeling brighter, and have more energy to start each day.
An alcohol use disorder is described as the inability to control one’s drinking, despite harmful consequences to relationships, work, or health.
Most people associate drinking with social interactions. It’s easy to connect over a bottle of wine or a few drinks. Many social drinkers enjoy drinking alcohol for its mood-boosting effects, making it easier to connect with others.
However, excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact our mood. This can have adverse effects on how we treat our loved ones.
By giving up alcohol, you allow the space to create new and healthy relationships and the ability to work on existing relationships with family and friends.
Lower Blood Pressure
Drinking too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure, the leading cause of heart disease. By quitting alcohol, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack.
A study found that people involved in heavy drinking are twice as likely to experience a cardiovascular event within 24 hours than people who don’t drink.
Alcohol negatively impacts your metabolism rates. This makes it more difficult for the body to process fats and sugars.
Alcohol is filled with sugar and calories, and many mixers are very high in sugar. A medium glass of red wine contains around 160 calories, and there are about 210 in a pint of beer. If you binge drink alcohol, it can be easy to consume much more than the recommended daily calorie and sugar intake.
The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse says that binge drinking is defined as having five or more alcoholic beverages for men and four or more for women.
Alcohol increases the appetite and makes you feel impulsive; this can result in late-night food binges, which, over time, are detrimental to your physical health.
Not everyone’s experience with alcohol is the same. However, we know that quitting alcohol can support you in living a healthier lifestyle, whether through weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight.
Better mental health
Alcohol addiction and mental health illnesses, such as anxiety or depression, have been closely linked. Scientists are unsure what this exact link is, but many people who partake in alcohol misuse do so to self-medicate symptoms of an existing mental illness. However, alcohol abuse only contributes to these symptoms.
By giving up alcohol, you can reduce the side effects of a mental health condition and work towards improving your mental health. This can be through increasing your self-esteem and self-confidence, alongside decreased depression or anxiety.
Tips to Help you Stop Drinking Alcohol
Giving up alcohol can seem daunting at first and can cause alcohol cravings, which are a result of withdrawal symptoms. If you have an alcohol use disorder, it is always important to seek professional medical advice before entirely quitting alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and challenging to manage without the correct knowledge or support.
Cutting back on your drinking is also a step in the right direction and can be the starting point on your recovery journey. If you are ready to quit drinking, you are not alone, and help is always available to support you. You could:
- Speak to a doctor
- Tell your family and friends
- Join a peer support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
It is much easier to tackle your drinking habits with the help and support from those surrounding you. Once you have made the decision to be alcohol-free, some practical steps can support you in stopping drinking. These include:
- Attempt to have alcohol free days; this will help change your habits
- Try not to drink on an empty stomach; by having a meal before drinks, you are able to line your stomach
- Attempt to engage in a new hobby
- If you begin to have alcohol cravings, mindfulness or meditation can help distract yourself
- When out socialising, try drinking a nonalcoholic drink
Alcohol Abuse Treatment
If you have attempted to stop drinking by yourself, but haven’t been successful, maybe it’s time to seek professional medical advice.
A range of treatment options is available to guide you in starting your recovery journey.
The first stage in addiction treatment is detox. This involves allowing the body time to heal from alcohol abuse by clearing it of toxins consumed when drinking heavily. During this time, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced, but these can be easily managed with the proper support.
There are several treatment options for addiction treatment:
This involves living in a residential home provided by a treatment facility. Here, you will receive around-the-clock care and intensive therapy to help support you in your recovery.
Outpatient treatment programs allow you to live in the comfort of your home whilst attending regular check-ins and appointments to keep check-in with your progress.
A personal commitment to improving your relationship with alcohol is needed for it to be successful. The most successful treatment for an alcohol use disorder includes a combination of behavioural therapy and preventative medicine to help with cravings and side effects and avoid relapse.
Contact Us Today
The Revoke Programme offers therapeutic and peer support from an expert team of therapists, psychologists, medical doctors, and psychotherapists.
Our program is offered on an outpatient basis which allows you to receive individualised treatment plans that take your personal and working life into account. This means you can benefit from undergoing treatment whilst maintaining your responsibilities and daily routines.
We are here to help. Contact us today to find out more about The Revoke Programme.