You may not be feeling any pain when you’ve numbed yourself by abusing alcohol, but the same can’t be said for your body. Alcoholism has the potential to ruin your life in many ways, and one of the major areas where it takes a severe toll is on your physical health. The effects of heavy drinking can ravage your liver, heart, and brain, and raise your risk for several diseases, not to mention the dramatic impact it can have on your mental health. The great thing about making the choice to stop drinking is that it can completely transform your health—you will be amazed by what sobriety does to your body.
What Sobriety Does to Your Body Immediately After You Stop Drinking
Once you make the decision to quit drinking, you should be prepared for the transition your body will go through. As your body detoxes from the alcohol that has been in your system, it can be a shock to suddenly be without a substance it has functioned with for so long. If you have been abusing alcohol for a considerable amount of time, you may experience withdrawal.
Withdrawal is your body responding to this sudden change, and it can take several forms. You may feel sweaty and uncontrollably hot because your body temperature has increased. Your body may start shaking or tremoring without warning. Your energy will dip, while your craving for alcohol may intensify. All these symptoms can also be accompanied by mood swings. You may veer from irritability to anger and back again in a very short period of time. If your alcoholism is severe, you may even experience hallucinations or feelings of delirium. Because these symptoms can be hard to manage on your own, you should seek out a professional treatment program that can oversee you during this critical time.
These symptoms can sound very frightening, but it’s important to remember that the withdrawal period is only temporary—you can start to feel better very soon.
What Sobriety Does to Your Body Post-Detox
Once you pass through the withdrawal stage, the weeks and months ahead will likely bring significant change to your body—for the better.
Perhaps the most important alteration to your physical health will be a marked improvement in your sleep. Alcohol can cause insomnia and other sleep issues, and research shows that if you don’t get enough sleep it can wreak havoc with your health. Once you are sober, you will start to sleep better, and along with that will come more energy, improved mental clarity and brain function, regulated blood sugar, and a brighter mood. It’s called a good night’s sleep for a reason—your body gets recharged and renewed.
Sleep is just one of the changes to your body that you may notice. Your skin may look better—alcohol can be dehydrating, and when your skin isn’t getting the moisture it needs, it can appear wrinkled and dry. You also may feel stronger and less susceptible to cold and flu germs because your immune system—which had been weakened by your heavy drinking—will rebound and better fight off illness. You may also notice a difference in how your clothes fit. Your metabolism, freed from the grip of alcohol abuse, can rev up again. Also, eliminating several alcoholic drinks from your daily diet means you are also eliminating what could be several hundred calories. As long as you are eating a healthy diet and not substituting food for your alcohol addiction, you can lose weight.
What Sobriety Does to Your Body Long-Term
If you keep up with sobriety, and healthy habits such as eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep, you may feel and look like a completely different person when you are several years into your recovery. You may look fitter from the weight loss you experienced after you quit drinking, and more energy and more free time can enable you to get more physical activity. You will look more alert because you are no longer in an alcohol-induced haze.
You can also have significant changes take place that aren’t as readily noticeable in your outward appearance. Your internal organs were definitely affected by overconsumption of alcohol. For instance, all areas of your brain are affected by alcohol, including the gray matter, which is the brain tissue where information is processed. Alcohol abuse can cause a loss of volume with your gray matter, but one study indicates that volume can return in some regions of the brain after you stop drinking and get sober.
As most people know, the liver is another organ that sustains severe damage from alcoholism. The liver has the task of eliminating alcohol from your bloodstream. But when you drink too much, your liver can’t keep up and remove the alcohol, which has a toxic impact on the organ. Your liver can also develop scar tissue from the damage caused by alcohol abuse, which is called cirrhosis. The only way to stop the damage is to stop drinking. If you make the decision to get sober earlier in your addiction, you may have a better chance of seeing your liver function return to normal or near-normal levels.
After years of sobriety, your heart function will also likely have improved. Alcohol consumption has a correlation with an increase in triglycerides, the type of fats that can contribute to heart disease risk. (Weight gain from too much alcohol can increase that risk even more.) Alcohol may also cause damage to the heart’s muscles. After you stop drinking and are sober for several years, your heart disease risk can decrease. Another risk that you can also cut down considerably with sobriety: the chance of getting certain kinds of cancers, such as in the breast, mouth, or liver.
All these positive changes to your physical health can make you feel pretty good mentally, too. If you used alcohol as a way to cope with intense emotional issues, it’s important to have replaced it with healthier strategies, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, exercise, an encouraging support group, or therapy. With these tools, you will be better equipped to handle tough times without fear of falling into depression or relapsing. They also have the benefit of boosting your mood and giving you ways to lower the impact stress can have on your mind. Plus, because you are sober, you are more present and can see more clearly the gifts in your life you can be grateful for. You have the capability to lead a more mindful, contented life.
Now that you understand what sobriety does to your body to improve your life in so many ways, you know that it is the time to get the help you need. If you want to learn more about the alcohol addiction treatment programs offered by Casa Palmera, contact us today. We are ready to help you get back on the path to a healthier you.