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The Benefits of Quitting Alcohol and How to Do It

Absolut ads tower above the highway on billboards. The Most Interesting Man in the World apparently only drinks Dos Equis.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Read more: 8 Reasons I Quit Drinking 16 Years Ago — and Never Went Back

Weddings, of course, are incomplete without champagne toasts and office parties become just a little more interesting with the addition of a few cocktails.

But do the benefits to your social life outweigh the risk to your health? And how hard is it really to live without a few drinks?

Those who have suffered through the bleary-eyed, head-in-a-vise headache of the morning after know the grave toxicity of alcohol. But there are effects that outlast the hangover.

Alcohol use and abuse increases the risk for many types of cancer, pancreatitis, digestive problems, cardiovascular issues, stroke, depression, anxiety and dementia. What’s more, a consistent use of alcohol depletes neurotransmitters and changes brain function.

Several immediate health improvements occur after alcohol cessation. According to a study published by New Scientist, after just one month of not drinking, liver fat decreased by 15 percent, blood glucose levels dropped 16 percent and cholesterol decreased by five percent. In addition, participants' sleep quality and ability to concentrate improved significantly as well.

Read more: 10 Ways You May Be Shortening Your Life

You'll Save Your Brain

Your liver isn’t the only organ at risk from consistent heavy drinking. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Heavy drinking may have extensive and far-reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple ‘slips’ in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care.”

Even moderate drinking can cause memory lapses, and on the other extreme, binge drinking can result in severe memory loss. However, even alcoholics who'd already experienced cognitive impairment can regain at least some brain function within a year of abstinence.

Giving up booze can also assist in the growth of new brain cells, since large amounts of alcohol can slow or halt the growth of new brain cells. It's this lack of growth that results in the long-term deficits found in key areas of the brain.

And on top of all that, alcohol abuse can lead to thiamine deficiency, which leads to serious disorders of the brain, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS).

Read more: 9 Scary Side Effects of Social Drinking

Abstinence Will Save Your Waistline

What Effects Does Alcohol Have on the Body & Brain?

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Good news if you’re looking to drop a few pounds: Quitting alcohol promotes weight loss, especially for women. Many types of alcohol are loaded with sugar or become sugars when processed by the body.

Registered nurse Travis Peitrick says, “For women, drinking spikes estrogen, which promotes the storage of belly fat. The cessation of drinking has a multitude of health benefits, which are experienced instantaneously.”

Research shows that drinking causes additional physical consequences for women. Alcoholic women develop cirrhosis of the liver, heart muscle damage or cardiomyopathy and nerve damage more quickly than alcoholic men.

Read more: The 13 Worst Alcoholic Drinks Sure to Derail Your Diet

Improve Your Mood

You may have heard that alcohol is a depressant. You may have even experienced a next-day slump. But beyond that, alcohol can disrupt brain function and brain cell and neurotransmitter function, possibly leading to brain damage, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

Read more: 10 Bad Habits to Ditch for a Happier You

So, How Do You Stop Drinking?

Physical Signs of an Alcoholic

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Alternative suggestions for treatment, according to Passages Addiction Treatment Center in Malibu, California, include:

  • acupressure
  • massage
  • acupuncture
  • art therapy
  • equine assisted therapy
  • hypnotherapy
  • sound therapy
  • tai chi
  • yoga

What Do YOU Think?

Have you successfully quit alcohol for a period of time? What compelled you to stop drinking? Do you have any tips to share for abstaining from alcohol? Share your thoughts, stories and questions in the comments below.

Read more: 10 Things Never to Say to Someone Who Isn’t Drinking

The Wrap Up
  • Absolut ads tower above the highway on billboards.
  • Read more: 8 Reasons I Quit Drinking 16 Years Ago — and Never Went Back Weddings, of course, are incomplete without champagne toasts and office parties become just a little more interesting with the addition of a few cocktails.
  • But there are effects that outlast the hangover.
  • Alcohol use and abuse increases the risk for many types of cancer, pancreatitis, digestive problems, cardiovascular issues, stroke, depression, anxiety and dementia.
  • In addition, participants' sleep quality and ability to concentrate improved significantly as well.
  • Even moderate drinking can cause memory lapses, and on the other extreme, binge drinking can result in severe memory loss.
  • Have you successfully quit alcohol for a period of time?
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