What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

What happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol
What happens when you stop drinking alcohol? Alcohol consumption is on the increase, especially during the COVID crisis. But what actually happens to our body when we reduce or stop drinking alcohol?

There is no denying that alcohol consumption is a significant part of the life of many American, English and Australian cultures.

Impact of moderate to excessive alcohol intake

Besides the genuine risks of drinking excessively, alcohol consumption can cause:

But what happens to our body when we stop drinking alcohol? Before we answer that question lets explore alcohol further.

Jenny Champion, a registered dietitian, says that it is common to see high amounts of alcohol intake regularly in adults in certain countries. 

In Australia, alcohol is one of the most popular drugs with 40% of the adult population drink on a weekly basis, and 10% are daily drinkers.

COVID-19 and Increased Alcohol Consumption

With the recent COVID crisis, there has been an increase in alcohol consumption.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released figures that showed 70% of people were drinking more alcohol than normal, with 34% now drinking daily. 28% of those people reported they were drinking more alcohol to cope with anxiety and stress.

As a result of this increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has announced $6 million in funding to help people experiencing alcohol problems.

Dangers of drinking alcohol

Sears, Ph.D., natural chemist and maker of the Zone diet says that alcohol’s negative effect on the body can include everything from fiery impacts for your organs to expected harm to your DNA.

“Incidental drinking has been said to improve wellbeing. However, regular moderate to large consumption of alcohol doesn’t” she says.

The effects of alcohol goes beyond just the physical and mental issues. In Australia, alcohol is the most consumed drug.

Alcohol consumption in abundance can put you in danger of malignancies, diabetes, and liver illness, among other bleak conditions (i).

Huge bummer, we know.

For the vast majority of drinking binges, your body can recover from the harmful impacts of alcohol surprisingly fast.

Inspiration for quitting drinking

Numerous individuals do “Dry January” and stop drinking as an inspiration to begin the New Year alcohol-free.

In Australia, this is called “Dry July“, where people pledge money for you to succeed alcohol-free for 30 days, and if you do they will donate money towards finding a cure for cancer.

However, while keeping away from alcohol for a month may appear to be a popular thing to do, there are a few medical advantages that accompany quitting alcohol long term.

“The advantages can differ from individual to individual contingent upon the amount of a change from their normal drinking habits” – Dr Rekha B. Kumar

How quitting alcohol can affect us

How quitting alcohol affects your health

Dr Kumar further discusses that somebody who drinks minimally and decides to stop drinking, “may feel a feeling of authority over their wellbeing or feel a feeling of achievement from accomplishing a set objective.”

Meanwhile, other people who drink vigorously “might see more articulated physiologic impacts, for example, more mental lucidity, better rest, weight reduction, and feeling the ‘detox’ sensation, notwithstanding accomplishing a set objective.”

Amitava Dasgupta, PhD, educator of pathology and lab medication at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, and writer of the book The Science of Drinking concurs.

Dr Amitava said that for individuals who consume a moderate quantity of alcohol, partaking in Dry January (or July) and quit drinking won’t have a lot of effect on their body.

Nonetheless, for individuals who surpass proposals in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Trusted Source, he said Dry January can harvest changes.

The rules express that alcohol ought to be consumed with some restraint — up to one beverage for every day for women and up to two beverages for each day for men. Although, thoughts differ on what amount of alcohol is considered “safe”.

Newly published National Guidelines in the UK recommend not to drink any more than 14 units of alcohol per week and ideally spread over the week not consumed in one binge session.

What does units of alcohol look like?  The recommendations from the UK national guidelines recommend 10-14 units of alcohol per week, spread over the week and not in one session. Here is what units of drink looks like.

“Studies show that regardless of whether you drink in abundance once per month, it expands the danger of cardiovascular ailment and stroke,” said Amitava. “My admonition isn’t for the individuals who drink with some restraint. It’s for the individuals who drink excessively.”

Stopping or quitting alcohol consumption for as much as one month provides an increase in physical prosperity, emotional wellness and disposition, profitability and centre, ability to focus, and cash left in our pocket.

Changes to our body and mind when we stop drinking

Changes to your body and mind when you stop drinking or quit drinking alcohol.

It is common knowledge that drinking alcohol in excess is not the best habit to get into. But engrained in many cultures, it can be a difficult habit to kick.

Lets have a look at what happens to our body when we stop drinking.

Your Liver Starts Healing

Your liver is an amazing organ that can recover from large amounts of alcohol consumption. Your liver will start to regenerate after your quit alcohol, improving your overall health

Your liver’s responsibility is to dispose of poisons in your blood, and you truly make it stay at work past 40 hours when you drink alcohol.

Drinking more than the recommended amount (excess of 14 standard beverages seven days for men or 7 standard drinks for women) can prompt illnesses, for example, liver ailments, malignancies, oral medical issues and cardiovascular disease (ii).

Cirrhosis of liver can happen after some time in the individuals who drink unreasonably.

“Liver damage doesn’t occur in a day, however for a person, who drinks too much alcohol, there are fatty changes in liver, so when you quit drinking, those progressions are reversible and the liver can become normal once more,” said Amitava.

The liver is a truly amazing organ, as in it can regenerate and repair itself.

So it’s a smart thought to help it along by quitting alcohol or reducing your alcohol consumption to a safe level.

Interesting fact!

Your liver fat reduces by up to 15 %, increasing its ability to filter toxins out of the body. (iii)

Rekha included that without alcohol, “the liver can zero in on its different tasks, and for example, breaking down different toxins produced in and by the body, using fats and overabundance hormones that should be broken down.”

Your Heart Gets Healthier

Improve your cardiovascular health by reducing alcohol

Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by an enzyme called dehydrogenase, and when you drink in overabundance, the dehydrogenase is saturated and is itself metabolized by various other enzymes.

“When alcohol it’s metabolized by this specific pathway, it results in the generation of free radicles which are known to oxidize low-density cholesterol or bad cholesterol (LDL), and when the LDL is oxidized, it deposits on the carotid arteries framing blockage,” said Amitava.

Then again, in the event that you stop drinking or drink with some restraint, alcohol doesn’t have any impact on LDL. But instead, builds good cholesterol or high-density cholesterol (HDL).

To read more about lowering your cholesterol naturally, see related post below

“Drinking a couple of glasses of alcohol more than once per week has some medical advantages, particularly for men more than 40; it diminishes danger of cardiovascular diseases, for ladies you can get those advantages whenever, it’s not age-subordinate,” says Amitava.

 If you drink in overabundance, it may cause rise in your blood pressure, level of triglyceride fatty acids and ultimately the risk of heart failure. So if your blood pressure is too high, you might be able to bring it down by doing one simple thing: “quit drinking”.

“The point is, secure the heart with low measure of alcohol, however increase the danger of cardiovascular ailment with high measure of alcohol,” Amitava further said.

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and can be predicted in part by examining patients’ cholesterol levels.

While an average decrease of 5% in blood cholesterol might not seem like much, it’s quite significant when achieved as a result of cutting out alcohol.

To better your heart further when removing alcohol, experts propose including exercise, which additionally builds good cholesterol.

You Have A Reduced Risk Of Cancer

Alcohol causes 2.8% of malignancies each year (iv) and is named a class 1 carcinogen (v). Other cancer-causing agents, you may have known about incorporate asbestos and tobacco smoke.

However, individuals who run a mile from asbestos and cigarettes are frequently very glad to down a bottle of red wine each night.

The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services records alcohol as a known human cancer-causing agent in its Report on Carcinogens.

The report expresses that an individual’s danger of building up an alcohol related malignant growth increases with the more alcohol consumption consistently after some time.

Connections have appeared between alcohol use and the advancement of the accompanying sorts of head and neck, esophageal, throat, (vi) liver, breast and colorectal cancer.

Information from 2009 distributed in the American Journal of Public Health stated that 3.5 % of malignancy diagnosed in the United States were alcohol-related.

You Might Shed Pounds

Alcohol contains high calories which are "empty". Reducing or cutting down on your alcohol consumption can help you shred those kilos.

A glass of brew has around 150 calories, and a serving of wine has around 120. On top of those empty calories, alcohol also increases your craving and you are more likely to go for unhealthy snacks and eat more of them.

Think about this: only 3/4 of a bottle of red wine contains a similar measure of calories as a Mighty Zinger. Wouldn’t you hope to get in shape in the event that you quit eating a Mighty zinger consistently?

It’s not simply the calories in the alcohol, either – alcohol makes you more imprudent and along these lines more vulnerable to that enticing bowl of French fries. So when you avoid alcohol, the number on your scale may well begin descending.

In an interesting Netflix documentary called The truth about alcohol, they performed a small experiment where there were two groups of men at a pub.

The first group had alcoholic beer, the second group had non-alcohol beer. Both groups assumed they were served full-strength beer. A measured amount of snacks was put in front of both groups, and the findings found the group who drank the alcoholic beverage consumed more calories than those who didn’t consume alcohol.

Enjoy A Better Night Sleep When you Quit Alcohol

Quitting or reducing alcohol has the benefit of getting better quality sleep and feeling more refreshed after a nights sleep

Alcohol may get you deep sleep initially; however, it can wake you up over and over in the night. In addition, it disturbs the significant REM phase of rest and may meddle with your relaxing.

You likewise may need to get up more regularly to pee as it has a diuretic effect on your body. Have a go at skipping alcohol, particularly in the late evening and night, for more soothing shut-eye (vii).

Alcohol may you feel relax and tired at the start, yet it can wake you up more than once in the night as your liver accomplishes the essential work of processing it out of your body.

It can alter brain function, which upsets rest and sleep, especially during the second half of the night. At the point when you stop drinking alcohol, you’re probably going to see a lot further and serene sleep design rising.

So for a better more quality sleep, skip those alcohol beverages at dinner time!

Your Brain Functions Better

“Some particular mental problems are specific to drunks because of too much alcohol consumption. Brain damage can diminish memory and fixation,” said Amitava Dasgupta.

I have seen this first hand in my nursing career, where I have nursed patients with alcohol-related brain impairment from the overconsumption of alcohol.

Approximately 2,500 Australians each year get diagnosed with Alcohol Related Brain Impairment. Alcohol-related brain impairment affects thought processing, change in behaviour patterns and mood and change physical movement and coordination.

Alcohol reliance can make it harder to think or recollect things. After some time, heavy drinking can cloud your view of distance and volumes, or slow and debilitate your motor functions.

It can even make it harder for you to peruse others’ feelings. However, on the off chance that you quit drinking, your brain is by all accounts ready to recover a portion of these capacities.

Fewer headaches by quitting alcohol mean fewer days off and a superior capacity to focus on workday undertakings. Researches have tried this with the Daybreak application on 287 individuals more than a quarter of a year. Their decrease in drinking was joined by a decrease in ‘days out of work’ from 3.5 days to 0.5.

So to improve the function of your brain, limit or cease consumption of alcohol to avoid these negative affects.

Your skin improves when you reduce alcohol

Glowing skin is what happens when you reduce or stop the consumption of alcohol. This is one of the many benefits of reducing your alcohol intake.

Alcohol has a getting dried out impact on the skin, and this turns out to be especially recognizable all over.

Luckily, a large portion of the impacts are reversible, and individuals who quit any pretence of drinking generally notice a gleam getting back to their appearances inside a week or thereabouts.

Your Sex Life Improves

A touch of alcohol may make couples friskier. However, anything over the recommended amount may do the opposite.

With excess alcohol consumption, there may be performance issues in the bedroom and reduction in libido.

Cut down on the alcohol, and check whether it works up the feelings and peformance in the bedroom.

You Might Experience Alcohol Withdrawal

For some people, quitting alcohol can be dangerous. People who consume alcohol in overabundance for a long time, may have both psychological and physical problems when they try to stop drinking.

This condition is called alcohol withdrawal, and the symptoms may range from mild to severe often leading to death.

Signs of alcohol withdrawal may include:

  • Sweat breakouts
  • Racing heart beats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme cravings

If you don’t drink heavily, you’re unlikely to get withdrawal symptoms when you stop. But if you’ve gone through alcohol withdrawal once, you’re more likely to go through it again the next time you stop drinking.

If you’re a heavy drinker, it is important to not quit alcohol “cold turkey”.  It is always best to work in with your General Practitioner or substance abuse specialist, who can offer direction and may endorse prescription like benzodiazepines or carbamazepine to assist you with traversing it.

Take Away Message

Take away message for the affects of reducing or stopping consumption of alcohol

Although alcohol has been around for many years, consuming it in excess can be bad for your health.

When you choose to quit drinking, it may be difficult at first as your body flushes all the alcohol from your system.

You may experience some withdrawal symptoms initially, however, the advantages of stopping drinking is worth it for your health and well-being.

In the event that you quit drinking, make sure you consult and work with your medical health professional.

Our bodies love being grog-free. Quitting alcohol brings with it a number of amazing benefits for your physical and mental health. Many people start noticing improvement in their overall health even one week after they stop drinking.

How does quitting alcohol affect your body?  There are many benefits to reducing or stopping the consumption of alcohol. From improved cardiovascular health to reduced risk of cancer.

Resources to help you quit

Helpguide.org

Australian Government

https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/alcohol/about-alcohol/how-can-you-reduce-or-quit-alcohol

Reach out

https://au.reachout.com/tough-times/addiction

References:

  1. Chronic diseases and conditions related to alcohol useAlcohol Res. 2013;35(2):155–173.
  2. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/biomedical-risk-factors/risk-factors-to-health/contents/excessive-alcohol-consumption
  3. The effects of short-term alcohol abstinence on fatty livers. February 10, 2014.
  4. https://www.cancer.org.au/policy-and-advocacy/position-statements/alcohol-and-cancer/#jump_1
  5. https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3944/rr-3
  6. Alcohol drinking cessation and the risk of laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers: a systematic review and meta-analysisPLoS One.
  7. The within-person association between alcohol use and sleep duration and quality in situ: an experience sampling studyAddict Behav. 2016;61:68‐73. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.05.018

Emilie MASI

Registered Nurse, Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice Graduate Diploma of Wound Care Working towards Masters of Wound Care

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