It’s no secret that drinking excessively can take a toll on a person’s health. Over time, drinking in excess can lead to liver failure, heart problems, and cancer, among other serious health issues. Someone in the midst of a drinking problem may not realize the toll alcohol is taking on their body, or they may simply not care.
What happens when someone stops ingesting alcohol? The truth is that alcohol is essentially poison, and when it is removed from the equation, your physical health will improve in a number of ways. Here are just a few.
1. Hangovers will be a thing of the past.
Not many people know this, but hangovers are actually caused by your body withdrawing from alcohol. Some people rarely get hangovers, while other people get debilitating ones. Towards the end of my drinking, my hangovers got so bad that they sometimes kept me from following through on certain responsibilities. It’s easy to look at hangovers as the price you pay for a night of letting loose, but the truth is that you don’t realize how much they limit your body until you wake up without them. The first time you wake up with a clear head and happy body, while others around you wake up groaning with a splitting headache, you’ll realize just how freeing it is to no longer worry about being hungover.
2. Your body will take in fewer toxins.
Alcohol includes toxins, which are chemicals that the body needs to rid itself of. When toxins enter the body, they get broken down and flushed out of the body. The main organs that play a role in this are the liver, kidneys, and the intestines. Working to eliminate toxins around the clock can eventually wear these organs down, which is why so many long-time heavy drinkers experience problems with these organs. When the body is no longer taking in alcohol, it won’t need to work to eliminate the toxins from it. This means less work for these vital organs, which means they will function longer.
3. Your skin will look healthier.
This is one of those sneaky things that excessive alcohol can affect. Drinking in excess can cause dehydration, which can affect the skin over time. In the long-term, it can cause the skin to wrinkle earlier on than it would in someone who does not drink. This can cause people to look older than their actual age. Alcohol can also affect the skin short-term. For some people, drinking can cause redness in the skin as well as inflammation. Though at first these may be temporary effects of drinking, they can become permanent over time. When I was drinking, the skin on my face was puffy and had a yellowish tint. Within a month of getting sober, I noticed huge changes in my appearance. My skin began to look healthy again, simply by cutting out alcohol.
4. Sleep will come more easily.
Often with excessive drinking comes an unpredictable schedule. You may sometimes stay out until the early hours of the morning, then sleep until the late afternoon, while other times you try to maintain a normal sleep schedule because you need to work the following day. This type of back and forth confuses the body, making it more difficult to sleep when needed. Getting sober allows you to restore some consistency to your schedule and get back into a normal routine, for which your body will thank you in big ways.
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it creates a drowsy or relaxing effect for the user. This alone can affect a person’s energy levels when they are drinking. In addition to alcohol being a depressant, it can affect a person’s sleeping schedule negatively, which can result in limited energy. When you remove alcohol from the equation, your body doesn’t have to work to rid itself of the toxins. You can return to a more normal schedule, resulting in better energy levels.
6. Your diet will probably get healthier.
People who drink heavily may not make the best choices when it comes to food. When I was drinking, I would eat anything and everything because being drunk made me incredibly hungry. It also made me completely unaware of the choices I was making when it came to food. I just didn’t care. When you stop drinking, you likely become more aware of what you are putting into your body. Because you feel healthier without alcohol dragging you down, that feeling will probably carry over into your nutritional choices as well. Even if you don’t make 100 percent healthy choices, you are still probably eating less quantity-wise than you would if you were eating while drinking.
7. Your mental health will improve.
Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. I find that when I am not taking care of myself mentally, it also manifests physically. Because removing alcohol from the equation will improve your physical health, you’ll likely find that you feel better mentally as well. Having a clear mind and feeling good physically makes conditions such as depression and anxiety more manageable.
The really amazing thing is that this list doesn’t even include all the physical benefits of cutting out alcohol. There are so many ways in which alcohol affects the inner and outer workings of the body, and you won’t truly realize the extent until you remove alcohol from the equation. When you do, once you realize what it feels like to be healthy, you’ll likely wonder how you ever felt like your body functioned well while you were drinking.
About the Author
Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. In her day-to-day life, she works as a reporter at the local newspaper. Her passions are writing about recovery at Lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design, and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. She hopes her writing can bring clarity to other young people struggling with addiction and let them know they are far from alone.