How quitting Alcohol can benefit your health
Most of us have had some experience with the nominal effects of mild alcohol intoxication: a feeling of being relaxed, a little more open, with fewer inhibitions, and maybe an inflated perception of our abilities, such as for dancing or singing. Creative people sometimes say they’re more passionate in their work.
That’s how we feel when we drink, but what happens to our bodies when we drink alcohol?
Alcohol is a chemical compound. When ingested, it kicks off a chain of events resulting in the feelings and sensations we perceive when we use alcohol as a recreational drug. While drinking alcohol is considered a socially, medically, and personally acceptable form of relaxation, even moderate and occasional use has some risks.
Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse Among the conditions associated with chronic heavy drinking are:
- Anemia: low red blood cell count.
- Behavioral changes.
- Cancer of the liver, breast, and the gastrointestinal tract—breast, throat, esophagus, and colorectal region.
- Cardiovascular disease due to blood clotting, causing an increased risk of stroke and other heart ailments.
- Cirrhosis of the liver.
- Dementia and other mental problems due to accelerated brain shrinkage and nutritional deficiencies. Blackouts may happen with greater frequency. We don’t just act differently, we are different.
- Epileptic-type seizures.
- Fetal alcohol syndrome. There is no known level of safe drinking for pregnant women.
- Aggravates and maybe causes gout in the joints.
- High blood pressure, sometimes leading to kidney and heart disease.
- Suppresses the immune system, leading to sometimes serious infectious lung disease.
- Reduces inhibitions causing reckless behaviors such as unprotected sex.
- Nerve damage in the extremities causing muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and other problems.
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
What Happens When Alcohol Abuse Stops
So, what happens when we stop consuming alcohol? Depending on the severity and length of the dependency, a complete or near-complete recovery, in many cases. Here are some health concerns that get better:
- First few days: Eyes, skin, and nails take on a healthy glow as circulation is restored and the body begins to catch-up with the detoxification process.
- About 40 days: The liver and pancreas begin to rebuild. They are no longer producing toxic chemicals associated with processing alcohol.
- Around six months: Risks for mental degeneration, depression, and anxiety begin to lower. Acuity—sharpness of the mind—is on the mend. Metabolisms are more even, so weight management is easier. Fatty liver disease and the overall body fat index shrinks.
- Near the one-year mark: Cancer risks lower and high-risk behaviors become less commonplace. The ability to make better choices replaces impulsive decisions, while tendencies toward binge drinking diminish.
Not everything that can happen when you stop drinking is good for you. For some longtime heavy drinkers, potentially lethal alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS)—shaking, headache, high blood pressure, anxiety, and increased heart rate—or delirium tremens (DTs) may result.
Involving another in the decision to stop drinking can improve your odds of success. The overall landscape is so diverse, professional help is recommended whatever seeking a solution to the issues and behaviors surrounding addiction, abuse, or misuse of drugs and alcohol. The many facets of this condition defy a single answer. Get help. Know your options. And talk with someone who has experience.
Author Bio: Jon Richardson is an avid writer. He graduated with an English degree from Central Michigan University and is currently a recovery coach for www.willowspringsrecovery.com. When he is not writing he is shooting hoops with his friends.