Quitting drinking isn’t easy for everyone, especially for people who have been abusing alcohol for years. Despite how socially accepted this substance is, alcohol is highly addictive, and many people fall victim to its empty promises of fun and use it to escape from stressors and other problems. For those who are worried about quitting alcohol or don’t feel motivated enough, our Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab is sharing the benefits of alcohol detox that might convince you.
Health Risks of Drinking
Before you learn the benefits of alcohol detox, it’s helpful to understand the risks of heavy or frequent drinking. Heavy alcohol use can take a major toll on your physical and mental health, increasing your risk of:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Digestive issues
- Hearing loss
- High blood pressure
- High sugar levels and diabetes
- Sexually transmitted infection
Addiction is also a common risk of heavy alcohol consumption. Many people turn to alcohol for emotional support or simply to have fun and end up becoming dependent on the substance entirely. If you find yourself becoming more and more attached to drinking, it’s better to try quitting alcohol now than waiting years down the road.
Health Benefits of Quitting Drinking Alcohol
Research shows that the brain, heart, liver, and gut can naturally recover over time following alcohol detox or cessation of use. After you get past the initial withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, eventually you’ll notice the many benefits of quitting drinking, which may include:
- Healthier-looking skin: If you’ve ever heard of the term “alcoholic face,” then you might be aware of drinking’s impact on the skin, such as broken capillaries on the face and nose, dry skin due to dehydration, inflammation, jaundice, saggy skin, and more. Fortunately, when you stop drinking, your body gradually restores collagen and elasticity to the skin. The redness and jaundice associated with heavy drinking also dissipate the longer someone doesn’t drink.
- Improved sleep: Alcohol and poor sleep are linked, mainly because alcohol interferes with the body’s natural sleep cycle. It also relaxes the muscles in the throat, increasing your risk of sleep apnea. The longer you abstain from alcohol and practice good “sleep hygiene,” the more of an improvement you’ll see in your sleep.
- Healthier weight: Alcohol usually contains empty calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, all of which can contribute to weight gain when consumed excessively. Alcohol also robs your body of essential nutrients and slows down your metabolism. If you binge drink, you’re likely to consume up to 600 calories or more in alcoholic beverages in one night. Paired with regular exercise and a cleaner diet, quitting alcohol can help you regain and maintain a healthy weight.
- Improved immune system function: Alcohol can interfere with your immune system, preventing it from producing enough white blood cells to fight off infections and disease. This is why people who drink heavily for long periods tend to struggle with bouts of pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- Improved nutrition: Because alcohol contains so many calories, carbs, and sugars, people who struggle with heavy drinking tend to “drink” their meals rather than eat nutritional foods. When alcohol replaces food, it can interfere with the digestion, storage, and utilization of nutrients in the body. Quitting drinking leaves more room for healthier foods.
- Lowered risk of cancer: Alcohol is a carcinogen, meaning it comes with an increased risk of cancers like breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, liver cancer, and more. Considering that the American Society of Clinical Oncology has shared that limiting alcohol use can prevent complications like cancer recurrence or the development of secondary primary tumors (SPTs) during cancer treatment, stopping alcohol consumption altogether can lower your risk of cancer significantly.1
- Improved mental health: There’s a rate of comorbidity between drinking alcohol and mental illness, including disorders like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and addiction in 2018 alone, yet nearly 60% received no addiction or mental health treatment.2 Alcohol and mental illness negatively affect each other, creating a vicious and ongoing cycle. Many people with mental health disorders turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, but alcohol physically impacts chemical messengers in the brain, impairing its ability to naturally release mood-boosting hormones and more.
- Improved memory and cognition: Heavy drinking can cause the hippocampus to shrink, which is the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory and learning. As a result, long-term or chronic drinkers begin to struggle with their memory. Quitting drinking can help reverse the negative impact of alcohol on cognition, including functions like problem-solving, memory, and attention.
How Medical Alcohol Detox Can Help
Due to its impact on the neurotransmitter GABA, alcohol also has a high potential for dependence and addiction. The longer and heavier someone drinks, the more likely they are to become addicted to alcohol. Once addiction sets in, not only can quitting be mentally challenging, but it can also be physically difficult.
We stand by the benefits of quitting alcohol, but we don’t advise anyone to embark on this journey cold turkey. Especially for long-term heavy drinkers and people with alcohol use disorders, our Massachusetts treatment center recommends medically monitored detox for alcohol to avoid any physical complications like seizures.
Alcohol is known for being one of the most difficult substances to withdraw from, so medical support is best for quitting. Our facility offers alcohol detox that incorporates 24-hour care and medical support that addresses withdrawals and prevents other complications from occurring.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and needs help, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 for more information.
- Journal of Clinical Oncology – Alcohol and Cancer: A Statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
- SAMHSA – Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health