by Renee W.
If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption but don’t know where or how to get help, let me offer you some hope.
I have been there.
For over ten years, I drank most days starting from when I woke up in the morning until I passed out at night.
I (barely) held down a job and was raising two boys at the time. From the outside, few people knew the inner turmoil I faced every day.
I was, what you would call, a functioning alcoholic, and I “functioned” miserably for over ten years.
I look back at those days and have no idea how I lived through them. But I did.
Today, I am a recovering alcoholic, and my main goal in life is to scream the message, “There is another way! You don’t have to live like that anymore!”
So, maybe you have an alcohol problem, and you need help. Keep reading.
Or maybe you don’t know if you have an alcohol problem. Maybe you just want to know how your life will change if you give up alcohol. Maybe you want to know if it’s worth it or not.
If you’re reading this, then you’re interested in the benefits of giving up alcohol.
With Dry January just around the corner, this is a great time to start thinking about this step. Oh, and by the way, just this year over four million people participated in Dry January! I wonder if we can top that for January 2020.
Based on research (and personal experience, of course), let me share with you the top ten benefits of giving up alcohol.
1. Giving up alcohol can sharpen your brain
Obviously, when you’re drinking or drunk, you’re not thinking straight.
In fact, there’s no point in trying to rationalize with someone who has been drinking heavily, because, well, there’s no logical thought process anyway.
However, research shows that alcohol has a negative effect on the brain’s functions, and that having five or more drinks one day can affect cognitive functioning up to three days!
The science behind this is that excessive alcohol shrinks the brain’s frontal lobes, which affects cognition.
Indeed, when people stop drinking, they begin to feel clearer. They begin to notice things in life they may not have noticed before. Their thoughts start to connect and make sense.
This is one of my favourite parts of sobriety.
Not only do I not have to think too hard about what I did or said the night before, but I can also enjoy mental clarity all day.
2. Giving up alcohol improves your sleep quality
Think about the last time you drank too much. Now think about how it felt to go to sleep.
You may have fallen asleep, but did you stay asleep all night and wake up rested? No, of course not.
Alcohol disrupts two essential sleep functions: Slow Wave Sleep and REM sleep. Slow Wave Sleep is the sleep we need to feel refreshed, and REM sleep is what we need to learn and remember.
Research shows that drinking can equal a disturbed night’s sleep. Put several nights of drinking together, and you become sleep deprived.
Giving up alcohol greatly improves the quality of your sleep, and waking up feeling refreshed and ready for the day is absolutely priceless.
3. It can help you lose weight
It is no secret that alcohol not only slows down your metabolism.
At seven calories per gram, alcohol has almost twice the calories in carbs! Studies show that when you drink alcohol, your body breaks it down first, and alcohol slows down the body’s function of processing fats and sugar.
During my first year of sobriety, I dropped 50 pounds (23kgs) without ever trying to lose weight.
Sure, when it started coming off, I was motivated to keep losing, so I started exercising, but my diet never changed.
4. Your mood will improve
Sometimes we forget that while alcohol makes us feel better temporarily, it is a depressant, meaning that it changes the chemicals in the brain.
Research shows that heavy drinking messes with the neurotransmitters that are responsible for mental health, causing moodiness and irritability.
You know the major mood swings you may experience while drinking?
There’s science behind those! Giving up alcohol stabilizes our mood, which is a wonderful benefit.
5. Your heart’s functions improve
Yes yes, I am sure you have heard that a daily glass of red wine is good for the heart.
I used to use this reasoning to indulge in glass after glass of red wine until I literally lost count!
The key here is one glass and one glass is 4-5 ounces of wine. If you’re reading this, chances are you don’t stop at one.
According to research, if you stop drinking alcohol, your blood pressure will naturally lower, the triglycerides in your blood will lessen, and your chance of heart failure will drop.
Giving up alcohol is great for the heart since it gives it a break! It doesn’t have to work near as hard.
6. Your liver will heal
Sometimes we forget about this organ: the liver.
The liver’s job is to filter toxins. Couple that with the fact that alcohol can be toxic to your cells. Heavy drinking can cause a fatty liver, cirrhosis, or other liver problems.
The good news is that with the absence of alcohol, the liver can heal itself. According to Medical Daily, the liver starts healing within a month of stopping alcohol.
7. Your relationships may improve
Another one of my favourite benefits of sobriety: I have meaningful, authentic relationships!
The reason is that I can be present and honest with people today. I am not needing to lie and manipulate others while feeding my addiction.
If you have broken relationships, they may take time to heal, but they are more likely to improve while you are sober than if you are not. Most of the time, when others see that you are trying, actually trying, they will support you.
8. You’ll save money
Think about how much you spend on alcohol. If you drink daily, write down that number. Then multiply by 30. That is what you spend on alcohol in a month.
If you drink less frequently, perhaps weekly, write down that number. Now multiply it by four, and you will see how much you spend on alcohol in a month.
The numbers add up!
I was shocked when I realized how much I was spending daily. Now, I am so happy to look back and see how much I have saved since I quit drinking.
9. Your energy levels will soar
This won’t happen overnight, but after a few weeks without alcohol, you will notice an increase in energy.
As I’ve said before, alcohol is a depressant, and it also drains your energy and dehydrates you. If you stop drinking, you will discover newfound energy that is certainly refreshing.
You will need to find ways to spend your time because you will have more of it. Now’s the time to revisit your bucket list (or start one!) and start working towards your goals.
Perhaps you want to learn a new skill, like playing an instrument. Maybe you want to start exercising more (which will, in turn, give you even more energy!)
10. You will feel better about yourself
I cannot stress this one enough.
There is no price put on how you feel about yourself when you are not dependent on a substance, in this case, alcohol.
You can truly be who you are with no fear, shame, or guilt.
You can look at the world in the eye proudly because you are becoming your best version of you.
So, here’s my list of ten benefits of giving up alcohol, but guess what?
The benefits are endless.
I could go on and on about all the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational benefits of giving up alcohol. I never ever want to go back to those long days filled with alcohol, guilt, and emotional pain.
Yes, it’s cliché, but one step at a time.
You can take the first step, then another, then another, and you will be on the road to freedom from alcohol.
Your body, mind, and soul with thank you.