What are the benefits of quitting alcohol?
The benefits of quitting alcohol are many and far reaching, but first it’s helpful to understand your relationship with alcohol.
Do you abuse alcohol or have a dependence on it?
The terms’ abuse and dependence are often used to mean the same thing, but in fact (medically) there is a difference, and if either is the case then you may need some professional help to achieve your aim.
Let’s say as a result of recurrent excessive drinking you fail in your obligations to attend work or miss family occasions. Or you regularly combine drinking with hazardous activities such as driving and operating machinery. Or you engage in socially unacceptable behaviour while drinking. This type of activity has a negative impact upon the lives of others and is classed as alcohol abuse. Usually this type of drinker can carry on with their day to day life, albeit in a fashion that is both dangerous and a serious risk to their health.
When a person becomes alcohol dependent then alcohol starts to become the centre of that person’s life. This can lead to giving up on the important things such as relationships and career.
An early sign of dependence is when you need more alcohol to achieve the effect of intoxication or feeling satisfied.
Eventually a person can end up spending most of their time thinking about alcohol and planning their activities around alcohol consumption.
Many times the dependent person will try to cut back or stop drinking completely believing that they still have control, but that just causes them to feel generally unwell, and in more severe cases it will cause shakes or tremors. When this happens they have to return to drinking in order to feel ‘normal’ again and avoid these symptoms.
If you think you are either abusing alcohol or have become dependent on it then it’s important that you seek professional advice. This can be from your GP or self referral services and organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Change Grow Live (CGL) for example who can assess your situation in total confidence and offer the help and guidance you need.
The effects of consuming excess alcohol
Drinking alcohol excessively or above the recommended limits over a period of time can have many negative health effects.
Just 2 large glasses of wine per day equates to approximately 20% of your recommended daily calorie intake. That’s similar to eating two bars of milk chocolate everyday!
If you continue to consume more calories daily than you burn off it will not only affect how you look, but laydown dangerous fat deposits around your vital organs leading to complications such as high blood pressure and even heart disease or strokes.
And if you are a beer drinker then you are just at risk. Drinking just 3 pints daily (or 3 large cans at home) equates to consuming 2 burgers with all the trimmings each day.
These 2 quick video explains more.
2 Large Wines Each Day
3 Pints of Beer Each Day.
Sadly many people die each year from alcohol related cancer. It can’t be predicted who will develop cancer from excess alcohol, or what type. However, it is a very real problem which is on the increase, and if you drink excessively, binge drink, or regularly consume more than the recommended maximum guidelines you dramatically improve your chance of developing an alcohol related cancer.
This can include (but not limited to):
Liver Cancer. > Read More
Breast Cancer. > Read More
Bowel Cancer. > Read More
Oral Cancer. > Read More
Pancreatic Cancer. > Read More
And if that’s not enough, excessive drinking can cause all sorts of other life threatening and debilitating diseases.
Diabetes. All sorts of complications including loss of limbs
Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) – Caused by drinking while pregnant
Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Raised blood pressure.
Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
Rosacea (skin disorder).
All these diseases are life threatening, debilitating, cause hardship and incapacity. However, they are all avoidable by cutting down alcohol intake or quitting drinking altogether.
As well as all those issues above, women are at a far greater risk of developing breast cancer through excess drinking. Not only that but a much increased risk of fertility problems.
You can read more on the Drink Aware website HERE
Like women, men are also at a much higher risk of all the above. However, problems that affect men also include reduced or poor sexual performance, heart disease and the classic beer belly which is caused by laying fat around a man’s middle area smothering vital organs so they have to work harder.
You can read more about the effects on men on the Drink Aware website HERE
The Hangover Effect
I’m sure we are all familiar with the effects of far too much to drink on a Saturday night. You wake up in the morning with a banging head, you feel dazed, hot, sweaty and it takes until the next morning before you feel like anything near normal again.
This is the body’s natural reaction to the occasional over drinking episode. It’s trying to say to us that this is not good and don’t do it again for a long time.
In fact, how many people do you know who have got into that state and bemoaned the next day that they’re never going to drink again?
You’ve heard it plenty of times and for many people it’s true. They manage not to drink for a while and enjoy drinking in moderation after a few days of abstinence.
However, there are a certain section of drinkers who don’t get the classic hangover effect. They don’t suffer headaches, they don’t feel sick, they even get up in the morning and move on with their normal daily routine.
These are the drinkers who consume alcohol every day. Their bodies are so accustomed to alcohol intake that they don’t suffer the effects that moderate or occasional drinkers suffer, and the reason why is that they are in a permanent hangover state.
Mostly they don’t even realise this, but if questioned they would say things like they’re tired all the time, the kids play up all the time, work is stressful. Or they flair up easily, they can’t be bothered with family interaction and they just don’t seem to have any zest for life.
Often they will put it down to a busy month, heavy workload, stressful situations etc, but the real reason is a permanent state of alcohol intoxication.
Often this can go on for years without realising what the cause is. Many people will even visit their doctor thinking there is some sort of medical problem causing it, and worryingly a lot of people will be prescribed medication and antidepressants that they just don’t need.
Thankfully though simple lifestyle changes can often reverse these negative feelings and give a person the life back that they once enjoyed and took for granted.
Help is Out There.
If you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself, or are sufficiently concerned enough to want to make changes then plenty of help is at hand.
Try visiting the Drink Aware website as a starting point for great information and solid advice for cutting down.
if you feel you need help to cut back or quit completely then have a chat with your doctor to see what help and support is available to you in your area.
If the doctor is not an option, then take a look at Change Grow Live (CGL) where you can speak to a councillor in confidence, have an assessment of your situation and self refer without going through your doctor.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to suffer drink related worries and anxiety alone. There is plenty of help available and it no longer has the stigma attached that it once had.
Get help and get your life back on track.
World-renowned Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology David Nutt breaks down the science and effect of alcohol on our health, mood, sleep and productivity and how it travels through our bodies and brains and explains on a practical level how we can make changes to positively impact our relationship with it and understanding of it, thereby improving our quality of life for the long-term.