The decision to stop drinking is hard for many people. They may have some good reasons to quit but alcohol may be their only coping mechanism. Or alcohol may be central to how they relate to others or have fun. It’s easy to get hung up on what you would be losing by quitting alcohol. Here are three ways quitting alcohol will improve your life in a relatively short time, whether you’re a moderate drinker or you have an alcohol use issue.
You’ll sleep better.
Alcohol helps you relax and fall asleep more easily but the quality of that sleep is not as good. You’ve probably had the experience of crashing after a night of heaving drinking only to wake up a few hours later, feeling sweaty and anxious. This is the rebound effect of drinking. When you first fall asleep, your brain is working hard to counteract the presence of alcohol and maintain normal sleep. As your body metabolizes the alcohol, your brain is still pushing back so you become anxious and restless for the rest of the night. Studies also show that what sleep you do get is not deep and restorative.
Poor sleep doesn’t just make you tired the next day, it has many downstream effects. Poor sleep leads to poor concentration, less willpower, and more anxiety. Studies have linked inadequate sleep to much greater risk of major depression and anxiety disorders. And don’t forget the most immediate benefit of a sober night’s sleep: no hangover in the morning.
You’ll lose weight.
Many people are surprised how quickly they lose weight after they quit drinking. There are several ways alcohol makes you gain weight. One is that it’s just full of empty calories. A can of beer has about 150 calories and a glass of whiskey has about 70 calories. That’s not much compared to a cheeseburger but even a few drinks a night can add up to thousands of extra calories a week. And heavy drinkers consume far more than that. Alcohol also disrupts your hormones, lowering testosterone and making it harder to lose weight. Finally, studies show that alcohol actually stimulates your appetite, making you more likely to eat more. Once you quit drinking, you will probably lose weight easily, especially if you start exercising regularly too.
Your health risks drop.
Drinking is associated with many health risks, including liver disease, heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, liver, breast, and colon. When you quit drinking, all these risks drop quickly. The only exceptions are if you have already developed cirrhosis of the liver or dementia. Your body is good at healing itself, given the chance. Your health risks start to decline as soon as you stop pummeling your organs with alcohol and your risks decline even faster as you lose excess weight.
There are many good reasons to quit drinking, including those above and probably some of your own. However, quitting is hard and many people need help. At Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon, we help men quit alcohol and other drugs through a comprehensive program of physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Call us today at (503) 850-2474 to learn more about our unique approach to addiction treatment.