Being a human being is weird. We all experience the same emotions, but for some reason, some people are better at dealing with them than others. Some people power through sadness and stress like it’s their life fuel, while others turn to substances to make them feel better.
Yes, I’m talking about alcohol. That inescapable substance that even though we know is super bad for us, it’s everywhere. It’s a social staple, which makes it even harder to quit cold turkey.
Some people are more at risk than others to the dangers of alcoholism, like people who already have family members who drink a lot. Others might think it’s normal to drink often because their peers do it too. Others live in a culture where drinking is so normalized that the line between healthy drinking and alcoholism is blurry.
Whatever your situation, if you’re reading this it means you want to make some lifestyle changes by halting your alcohol intake. You’re here because you want to hear it from people who already quit. You want to hear about what happens to your mental health, body and overall quality of life when you quit drinking alcohol (both good and bad). So, here’s a handy list that includes 20 things that people realized happened to them once they quit drinking:
1. You sleep better. After a few weeks of quitting alcohol completely, your sleep cycle becomes more stable. As a result, you’ll feel more rested and refreshed after a full night of sleep.
2. You eat less. A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition revealed that alcohol makes people eat excessively. This is because alcohol enhances your senses, making everything taste and smell really good!
3. You might have more sugar cravings. Alcohol boosts dopamine, a pleasurable chemical released during reward-motivated activities. Once you give up drinking, your body might gravitate towards consuming more sugar, which has the same effect.
4. You lose weight. One can of beer can has up to 160 calories, and cocktails like margaritas and pina coladas can have between 300-450 calories each. Once you cut off those dead calories, you’ll see an immediate drop in your weight.
5. Your skin becomes healthier. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to urinate very often. By losing so much water, the skin of someone who drinks tends to look parched and rough.
6. You become less likely to get certain types of cancer. The National Cancer Institute has found that people who drink are more at risk of getting mouth, liver, breast and colon cancer.
7. Your liver gets healthier. Specifically, abstaining from alcohol for a month led to a 15% decrease in liver fat. Fat accumulation in the liver is one of the causes that leads to liver damage.
8. You get a boost to your immune system. Drinking has been linked to a higher risk of contracting respiratory diseases like pneumonia and slow wound healing.
9. You become more fertile. A study found that women who drink 10 or more drinks a week were 34% less likely to conceive children when they tried. A separate study found similar results in women who drink moderately (up to 5 drinks per week).
10. Your brain health improves. Alcohol impacts the brain negatively by affecting the areas of learning and impulse control. The good thing is that once you stop drinking, the damages will slowly revert over time.
11. Your mental health improves. Alcohol tends to have a muddying effect on the mind (which is why so many people seek it out; to drown negative emotions). Once you quit, you’ll start to see that you can, in fact, deal with negative emotions on your own.
12. Your body becomes stronger. Once you quit drinking, your body’s ability to absorb minerals and vitamins will increase, making you feel better overall.
13. Your cholesterol levels decrease. Alcohol doesn’t have cholesterol, but it has cholesterol-increasing effects nonetheless. A study in mice once found that bad cholesterol levels decreased by 40 percent after they stopped their alcohol intake.
14. You feel less mental fogginess. The same study found that people who quit drinking experienced an 18% increase in their ability to concentrate and remember things.
15. Your blood pressure goes down. A study by the Royal Free hospital tested a group of people to see what kind of effects quitting alcohol would have. Many reported that their high blood pressure dropped.
16. Your risk of diabetes will decrease. Alcohol can increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which in turn leads to type 2 diabetes.
17. You’ll never have to deal with hangovers again. Granted, this one is a bit obvious. But after a certain age, hangovers tend to feel worse and last longer.
18. You save money. Drinking every week is an expensive habit. In fact, if you drink regularly, do the math and you’ll see that your monthly booze tab is pretty high!
19. You save time. When you drink habitually, your body is less likely to do a lot of things like get up early, exercise and spend time in nurturing hobbies. After you quit drinking, you’ll see how much more time you have to do other things!
20. You learn you don’t need alcohol to have fun. After a while, you’ll stop craving alcohol and feeling envious of your drinking peers. You’ll simply lose the taste for it, and you’ll learn other ways to have fun that don’t involve getting blackout drunk.