There are times when we feel we are consuming too much alcohol. Maybe it was just one evening out, or maybe it’s a regular pattern of having several mixed drinks when we are home from work. Whatever the reason for quitting drinking is, there are some good things happening to your mind and body that maybe you didn’t notice.
Alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your body and brain. It can cause cancer of the neck, liver, esophagus, breast, colon, and rectum. Moderate-to-heavy drinking can also cause memory and balance problems, weight gain, personality change, and insomnia. When you stop drinking for one day, you will notice how your body feels the relief of not having to process the alcohol, and your mind seems clearer. You might even sleep better.
The Good Things That Happen to Your Body When You Stop Drinking
Your Liver Starts to Function Normally
Heavy drinking causes fatty buildup in the liver, which means the organ must work harder to do its job. When you stop drinking, the damage that alcohol has caused begins to reverse within a few weeks of not drinking. It can once again start to break down other toxins in the body, metabolize fats and break down excess hormones.
You Might Lose Weight
Wine, beer, and mixed drinks are usually high in calories and sugar. Heavier drinks are more prone to developing stomach fat, which occurs when there is a sugar buildup in the system. If you stop drinking, add regular exercise to your daily routine, and eat more healthily, chances are you could see some weight loss on the scale. You may also see your body composition improve, have less stomach fat, and feel better overall.
Your Appearance Improves
Alcohol can cause your skin to become dry and have a grayish tone, and your hair may be dry or even greasy, or you could be losing some hair. Alcohol can be a dehydrating substance. Quitting drinking can improve your appearance. Your skin will start to become a more natural color, and your hair will begin growing and look better. You will also probably start taking better care of your appearance than when you were putting back a few drinks every day.
Your Energy Level Improves
Alcohol is a central nervous depressant, meaning it slows down those functions in your body. This is why you feel more relaxed when you consume an alcoholic drink. When you drink more, it causes you to feel drowsy, and if you drink alcohol in excess, it can lead to an alcoholic coma. However, when you stop drinking for a week, you’ll notice that you’ll start to have more energy. The longer you are not drinking, the more energy you will have for activities that you enjoy, like dancing, jogging, walking outdoors for pleasure, taking pets for a stroll, and more.
Your Digestive System Begins to Heal
Alcohol consumption wreaks havoc on your digestive system. When you are consuming large amounts of alcohol, the organs in your digestive system prioritize breaking down the toxins from alcohol before anything else. Digestion begins in the mouth, then the throat, stomach, small intestine, and anus. Alcohol is absorbed straight into the bloodstream through the stomach lining, passes through the intestines and out of the body. Alcohol affects the lining of the stomach, and drinking can cause ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract.
Alcohol affects stomach acid production, reducing its ability to destroy the bacteria that enter it, possibly permitting harmful bacteria to enter the upper small intestine. Alcohol and acetaldehyde (its metabolite) are classified as Group 1 cancer-causing agents called carcinogens, which is the highest rating. It is equal to that of smoking and asbestos.
When you stop drinking, the saliva in your mouth does not contain alcohol. Saliva is essential in breaking down food for digestion. It also eases food and drinks through the esophagus and into the stomach. The stomach can then function as it should, causing no discomfort from alcohol.
When you quit drinking, you reduce your chances of developing any cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, intestines, and anus.
Your Immune System Begins to Fight Off Germs
When you stop drinking, your blood pressure might return to a more baseline, normal reading. Also, the levels of fat, known as triglycerides, will be reduced, and the chances of serious heart problems or heart failure are also reduced. In addition, your immune system, the body’s germ-fighting mechanism, will start to repair itself and begin to fight off the agents that cause you to feel ill.
Consider that all it takes is one episode of binge drinking to cause your immune system to work harder than needed and cause inflammation, a regular cause of several ailments. Quitting drinking will reverse that, and your immune system will begin to strengthen again.
The Good Things Happening in Your Mind When Drinking Stops
Your body is not the only part of you in which good things are happening when you end drinking. Your mind is also on the way to healing and working as it should be. Consider these positive effects on your mind and brain when you are not drinking.
You Can Sleep Better
Contrary to popular belief, having an alcoholic drink before bed does not help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Moderate alcohol use lessens melatonin production, the hormone that regulates sleep. When you cut alcohol from your life, you will be able to get a full night’s sleep, as melatonin levels start to level out. When you get a good night’s rest, you will find you are in a better mood, have fewer junk food cravings, and your cognitive function is much better. Cognitive functions are those that relate to attention, memory, language, and executive functions, like planning, focusing, and remembering.
Your Mind Becomes More Clear
When you quit drinking, it becomes easier to see your life in clearer terms. Your memory will improve. The frontal lobe of the brain, which often becomes damaged from heavy drinking, begins to heal, which means that rational thinking, decision-making, and impulse control will soon be back to normal. These are the functions of this part of the brain. You will be able to think rationally and make sound decisions instead of those that are alcohol-fueled. Perhaps, you will even be able to understand why you made some bad decisions before.
Your Mental Health Improves
Your mental health is probably one reason why you drink. For some, drinking and drinking heavily relieves the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, once alcohol’s effects wear off, those feelings can come back and sometimes with a vengeance. When you stop drinking, it may take a few days before you feel like the old you again—sans alcohol. You might feel more motivated to engage in healthier habits and routines and find alternatives to consuming alcohol when things become tough. You may even feel more mentally stable.
Your Brain Cells Bounce Back
Research has found that new cell growth occurs in the hippocampus part of the brain in as few as five weeks of abstaining from alcohol. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning. This also includes a great burst in brain cell growth, which happens soon after quitting drinking.
Many drugs affect the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for muscle control and coordination. This is why when you drink too much, you may stumble or weave when you walk. When you stop drinking, this part of the brain begins to correct itself and heal, and you will be able to walk without the tell-tale signs of alcohol abuse.
Quit Drinking, and the Good Things for Your Body and Mind Will Happen
It may seem like the most difficult decision to make is to quit drinking. Alcohol may have been your constant buddy during good times and bad. Maybe you just enjoy having a drink or two after work. Then there are those who cannot stop at just one or two drinks. They finish the bottle of wine or start downing shots of alcohol when the mixed drinks don’t ease their stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Quitting drinking, indeed, may seem like a nearly impossible decision to make.
However, if you stop drinking for one day, then one week, and perhaps longer, you will very soon begin to notice the good things happening to your body and mind. Why not give it a try? If you need help, there are people who understand what you’re contemplating and might offer information and advice.