Absolut ads tower above the highway on billboards. The Most Interesting Man in the World apparently only drinks Dos Equis.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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
- Your liver isn’t the only organ at risk from consistent heavy drinking.
- However, even alcoholics who'd already experienced cognitive impairment can regain at least some brain function within a year of abstinence.
Abstinence Will Save Your Waistline
How Bad Is Beer for Your Diet?
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.
- Good news if you’re looking to drop a few pounds: Quitting alcohol promotes weight loss, especially for women.
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
- You may have heard that alcohol is a depressant.
So, How Do You Stop Drinking?
What Just One Glass of Wine Does to Your Brain
Alternative suggestions for treatment, according to Passages Addiction Treatment Center in Malibu, California, include:
- art therapy
- equine assisted therapy
- sound therapy
- tai chi
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.
- Have you successfully quit alcohol for a period of time?
- Do you have any tips to share for abstaining from alcohol?
How Bad Is Beer for Your Diet?
What Just One Glass of Wine Does to Your Brain
Physical Signs of an Alcoholic
Effects of Alcohol on Sports Performance
Parts of the Brain Affected by Alcohol
The Calories in Skyy Vodka
Muscle Soreness the Day After Drinking Liquor
The Effects of Alcohol on Enzymes
Liver Health and Beer
How Fattening Is Light Beer?
- Claridge LC. Drugs and harm to society. The Lancet. 2011;37(9765):552. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60194-3
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking Levels Defined.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking is a serious but preventable public health problem. Updated December 30, 2019.
- Maimaris W, Mccambridge J. Age of first drinking and adult alcohol problems: systematic review of prospective cohort studies. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2014;68(3):268-74. doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203402
- Arain M, Haque M, Johal L, et al. Maturation of the adolescent brain. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013;9:449-61. doi:10.2147/NDT.S39776
- Dang JN. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration technical report. Statistical analysis of alcohol-related driving trends, 1982-2005. 2008.
- U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Results of the 2013–2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. Traffic Safety Facts. February 2015.
- Fell JC, Voas RB. The effectiveness of a 0.05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving in the United States. Addiction. 2014;109(6):869-74. doi:10.1111/add.12365
- Agius P, Taft A, Hemphill S, Toumbourou J, Mcmorris B. Excessive alcohol use and its association with risky sexual behaviour: a cross-sectional analysis of data from Victorian secondary school students. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2013;37(1):76-82. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.12014
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. College Drinking. Updated February 2020.
- Thomas S. American Addiction Centers. The Effects of Alcohol on the Body. October 24, 2019.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Cancer. July 8, 2019.
- Mirijello A, D'angelo C, Ferrulli A, et al. Identification and management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Drugs. 2015;75(4):353-65. doi:10.1007/s40265-015-0358-1
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Alcohol Poisoning Deaths — United States, 2010–2012. January 2015.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose.
- Gudin JA, Mogali S, Jones JD, Comer SD. Risks, management, and monitoring of combination opioid, benzodiazepines, and/or alcohol use. Postgrad Med. 2013;125(4):115-30. doi:10.3810/pgm.2013.07.2684
- Melemis SM. Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery. Yale J Biol Med. 2015;88(3):325-32.
Sara has served as Editor-in-Chief or Contributing Writer for a variety of magazines, such as Dubious and Minty in Seattle, XLR8R of San Francisco, Chicago’s Blacklist, the New York-based Flavorwire, Los Angeles' URB, and Resident Advisor of Berlin. Sara specializes in well-bred content and content marketing for a range of industries, from fashion and fitness to finance, hospitality, technology and entertainment.