Positive effects of giving up alcohol

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Giving up alcohol can have numerous positive effects on both your physical and mental health, as well as your social and financial well-being. Physically, abstaining from alcohol can lead to lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, fewer alcohol-related symptoms like headaches, heartburn, indigestion, and stomach upsets, less fatty build-up around the liver, better sleep, more energy, weight loss, and better absorption of nutrients like vitamins B1 and B12, folic acid, and zinc2. Over time, your body can begin to recover from the influence of alcohol, leading to a healthier heart and cardiovascular system, decreased risk of cancers, fewer illnesses due to your immune system improving, and even your liver can begin to recover5. Mentally, giving up alcohol can lead to improved mental health, especially among women. A study from the University of Hong Kong found that adults, and women in particular, who completely give up drinking experience a boost in mental well-being3. Regular, heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. So, while you might initially feel relaxed after a drink, alcohol can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. And stopping drinking could make feelings of stress easier to deal with6. Socially, a better relationship with alcohol can mean better relationships with the people you care about. This can mean more quality time together, fewer arguments, the chance to bond over different activities, and less tension2. Improved relationships, more money for activities, more energy, improved accountability, and improved confidence are some of the social benefits of not drinking4. Financially, depending on how much you drink, you could save a lot by cutting back. For example, 1 in 3 Irish people spend between €30 to €75 a week on alcohol. An extra €150 a month could give you a family holiday every year, around 8 years and €50,000 off a 30-year mortgage worth €300,000, dinners out, sports or theatre tickets every month, a monthly treat, some new clothes, fancy gadgets or something special2. In conclusion, giving up alcohol can lead to a multitude of benefits that can significantly improve your quality of life. However, it's important to note that if you think you may be dependent on alcohol, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional before stopping abruptly, as this can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms6.
how long does it take to see the benefits of giving up alcohol

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The benefits of giving up alcohol can be seen in both the short-term and long-term, and they affect both physical and mental health. Short-term benefits:
  • Within the first 24 hours of stopping drinking, withdrawal symptoms may begin. These can include anxiety, hand tremors, sweating, and headaches. Alcohol cravings, reduced energy, and feelings of depression are also common12.
  • Between 48 to 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms begin to recede or become more manageable for most people12.
  • After one week, sleep patterns are likely to improve1.
  • After two weeks, weight loss may be noticeable due to the removal of alcohol calories. The liver can start showing signs of recovery if it has not been badly damaged by drinking1.
  • After three to four weeks, blood pressure may reduce to healthier levels if drinking was causing an increase1.
  • After one month, skin may start to look better, and there may be a general sense of better health and more energy12.
Long-term benefits:
  • After three months, there is a reduction in the risk of developing many cancers. For example, women who drink between 14 and 35 units of alcohol per week have a 15% chance of developing breast cancer, compared to an 11% chance for those who don’t drink. For men, those who drink up to 14 units of alcohol per week have a less than 1% chance of developing colorectal cancer, but an 11% chance if they drink more than 35 units per week1.
  • After one year, almost everyone will leave behind the sense of low energy, anxiety, sleeping troubles, and/or alcohol cravings present at the beginning of withdrawal and begin to enjoy all the benefits of being drink-free1.
  • In the long term, giving up alcohol can lead to better hydration, improved memory, increased productivity, and daily wellbeing. The liver, stomach, and skin also benefit from not dealing with alcohol23.
  • After one year of not drinking, the risk of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and kidney disease all drop dramatically. Immune function improves, which may even address symptoms of autoimmune diseases3.
Physical health benefits:
  • Giving up alcohol can lead to weight loss, better skin, improved liver function, and a reduction in blood pressure123.
  • After a month of not drinking, liver fat may be reduced by up to 20%, significantly reducing the risk of cirrhosis of the liver or fatty liver disease3.
  • After three months of not drinking, the risk of cancer reduces. Types of cancer that alcohol is known to contribute to include liver, oral, breast, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectal, and ovarian3.
Mental health benefits:
  • After one month of not drinking, most physical withdrawal symptoms should have subsided and you should start to feel less anxious and more positive4.
  • In the long term, giving up alcohol can lead to clearer thinking and improved symptoms of psychiatric illnesses4.
  • After one year of not drinking, work productivity will probably be much better, and relationships may have improved3.
It's important to note that these timelines are estimates and can vary from person to person. Heavy or dependent drinkers should seek medical support and advice before they quit drinking due to the potentially dangerous impacts of going cold turkey without the right monitoring1.
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