It seems like the world we live in is obsessed with alcohol. There is advertising for it literally everywhere. We tend to think that in order to have fun on a night out we need to drink. We glorify alcohol and blame it (or thank it) for the decisions we make when drunk and avoid responsibility. Sometimes we even drink to “run away” from our problems. Let’s consider taking a hiatus from alcohol.
I can’t deny that alcohol sometimes is fun. It makes you feel relaxed and uninhibited. And if you drink it occasionally and in moderation, the negative effects on your health are probably minimal. However, if you find yourself drinking regularly, it may be affecting your body and mind in ways you might not imagine.
I was an alcoholic all through my adolescence. I decided to get clean almost a decade ago. If there’s something these nine years of sobriety have taught me, it is how much quitting alcohol can change your life for the better. With this post, I won’t try to get you to give up alcohol forever. But I do encourage you to quit drinking for a short period—30 days—so you can see the benefits of being alcohol-free.
Have you ever heard of “empty calories?” These are calories that don’t contain any vitamins, minerals, no nutritional value whatsoever. Alcohol is filled with them. Your body absorbs the sugars present in alcohol as excess fat.
In addition to this, alcohol slows down your metabolism. Alcohol is so hard to break down. Your metabolism “pauses” every other process it was supposed to be doing in order to metabolize. The result? A direct relationship between alcohol intake and weight gain.
During my addiction, I was a little bit overweight. When I gave up alcohol, my body’s processes started functioning normally again. I was able to drop those extra pounds fairly quickly.
Alcohol is a risk factor for many diseases. You might already have heard about how you have more chances of developing liver cirrhosis as a heavy drinker, but did you know that drinking increases your chance of getting cancer too? And not just one type of cancer: alcohol is associated with cancer in the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal region.
If this wasn’t enough, alcohol is also linked to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, anemia, depression, dementia, and pancreatitis, just to mention a few.
Quitting alcohol, even if it just for 30 days, can bring immediate positive health results. For instance, you might feel more energetic, your liver and metabolism will start working faster, and you will be more fertile.
Drinking alcohol can increase your libido. You may have experienced how it is easier for you to make contact with someone you like the effects of alcohol. While it increases your sexual desire, it also makes it harder for you to act upon that desire. What I mean is, both men and women tend to have a harder time enjoying sex when drunk, both in terms of satisfaction and arousal.
Also, in my experience, drunk sex is a really bad idea. When you are drunk, you are more prone to making bad decisions, which means you probably care less about protection, and we all know what this can lead to. Sober sex is much better.
Thinking and Learning
You might already be aware that alcohol affects your thinking process. When you’re drunk you have a harder time getting your thoughts straight, speaking fluently and coherently, and concentrating on the simplest of tasks. While these effects are only temporary, heavy drinking can have long-term effects on your brain’s functioning. Studies show that regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time makes you more vulnerable to brain damage, learning, and cognitive impairment.
Quitting alcohol can make you feel sharper. You will be able to focus and be more efficient when carrying out tasks at work or school.
Alcohol changes your mood while you’re drunk making you feel more cheerful and relaxed. You might even think it makes you happier. But it doesn’t. In fact, studies have shown that there is a correlation between alcohol consumption and mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. So, as much as you would like to think that drinking a couple of beers after work will make you forget about your problems (even if it does for a little while), it might actually be doing quite the opposite, leaving you feeling sad, angry and stressed when the effect wears off.
On the other hand, people with mental illnesses often self-medicate with alcohol in an attempt to feel better, which creates a vicious cycle and can lead you to become addicted. This is called a co-occurring disorder and, if not treated, can be fatal.
After nine years of sobriety, I can’t really say that I never feel tempted to drink anymore. I do sometimes, but then I think about what a mess my life used to be when I was an alcoholic, and how great it is now that I’m sober, and the temptation fades right away.
At the end of the day, there is nothing like feeling truly happy and healthy, and that’s something that, in my experience, can only be achieved by taking care of your body and mind properly. Giving up alcohol for 30 days might be a great way to start.
If you have experienced any other benefit of giving up alcohol or have any tips on how to give it up easier, please let us know in a comment below.
About the Author
Hi! I’m Andy. I have been 8 years clean. Since then, I have learned to love myself, take full control of my life, focus on growing my business, and helping others.