Drinking alcohol is a big part of the social fabric of many cultures. Drinking is a way to celebrate, to relax, to socialize, and to fill time. However, if an occasional drink goes to being a daily drinking habit or alcohol addiction, you may want to learn how to quit drinking in order to improve your body and mind.
If you’ve made the decision to stop drinking, you’re already on the right path. Once the decision is made, it’s time to take action.
Here we will look at the consequences of drinking too much and some steps you can take to quit drinking.
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How Much Is Too Much?
This is a great question to ask in our discussion of how to quit drinking for a healthy body and mind. Let’s look how much drinking is too much and when it can become a problem.
A recent 2018 study of nearly 600,000 alcohol drinkers found that those who drank less than 100 grams of alcohol per week (about 6 glasses of wine) had the lowest levels of mortality.
The study suggested that those who drink more than 100 grams of alcohol per week had increased risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm.
Occasionally going over 100 grams of alcohol a week likely won’t do lasting harm, but if you find that you’re consistently passing this threshold, or that you can’t go more than a couple of days without a drink, it may be time to learn how to quit drinking.
How to Quit Drinking Alcohol
When you want to quit drinking, it’s all about changing habits. Here are some steps to help you get started.
1. Admit You Have a Problem
Awareness is the first step in wanting to change any situation, and it’s just as true here. This is often the most difficult step as your brain wants to continue on the familiar path it’s on. If you can overcome this and admit that you want to change, you’ve done a great thing.
When you find yourself thinking more and more often that drinking is creating problems in your life, it’s probably time to admit you have an issue with drinking too much.
There is no shame in admitting it. Many people have issues doing too much of lots of things.
2. Think About Why You Should Quit
When we think about the long-term effects of drinking too much alcohol, such as cirrhosis of the liver, it’s not usually enough to make us quit. The reason is because it’s not real yet.
Think about the very real, short-term effects drinking has. If you drink four drinks at a time, three days a week, and each time it takes two hours, you’ve “lost” six hours a week to drinking. Add in the cost of the alcohol, say $30 a week (and that’s being generous), times 52 weeks a year, and you realize you’re spending over $1500 a year on alcohol.
When you toss in the things you miss out on by drinking, it becomes much more real.
It may help to make a list of your motivations to quit drinking. That way, you can go back to it when you start finding it difficult to quit drinking.
If you’re not sure how to find your “why,” check out this article.
3. Change Your Environment
This is a tough step. You have to change multiple things that have been central to the way you live your life.
You’ll need to shift your social life by not going to happy hours or other similar get togethers. You’ll most likely have to cut certain people out of your life, as well as alter the places you go.
If you know that you will inevitably drink when you go see a specific friend, it’s time to have a talk with that friend. If they’re not willing to support your decision, it’s time to spend more time with other friends who will.
If you know you won’t be able to resist a drink if you go to your coworker’s birthday party, you may need to excuse yourself until next time, when you’re more prepared to being around other people who are drinking.
4. Adjust Your Attitude
When drinking is a big part of your life, it’s difficult, under the best of circumstances, to quit.
You will get mad at people who think they are “helping” you. You will most likely get down on yourself and beat yourself up internally. You might have trouble falling asleep, and your mind will think about drinking a lot.
Keep pumping yourself up and know that you are working towards a goal that you know is right for you.
5. Get Help From Rehab or Support Groups
Many people are not able to quit drinking on their own. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are serious illnesses, and if the addiction has been in charge of your life for quite a while, your brain will have a particularly hard time giving it up.
If you find yourself unable to quit drinking on your own, it may be time to check into a rehab treatment facility. Another option is joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The support of a group of people with a similar problem will help you feel like you’re not alone.
There are a variety of support groups and rehab facilities that can help you if you want to learn how to quit drinking.
6. Keep Going
If you decide to remove alcohol from your life for good, it will be an ongoing process. Once you get through the initial stage and become a non-drinker, you will have to work on it as long as you want to stay away from alcohol.
This isn’t as bad as it sounds though. This is really true of any situation you want bad enough.
If you want to be in great shape, that takes ongoing commitment to exercise. If you want to make a million dollars, that takes consistent and ongoing hard work and hustle.
Any major life improvement is constant, hard work. Keep reminding yourself why you’ve made this change and how it’s benefiting you. Find friends and family members who will continually support your struggle in case you have days where it feels particularly difficult.
If you need more motivation to keep going, you can check out the benefits you’ll receive when you learn how to quit drinking alcohol.
What Happens When You Quit Drinking
Here are numerous negative effects of alcohol, and many ways your body and mind benefit when you decide to quit drinking. Here are just some of them.
You Will Sleep Better
This benefits both your body and your mind. Many people believe that alcohol helps you sleep because it makes you feel tired, but one scientific review found that alcohol consumption “increases the quality and quantity of NREM sleep during the first half of the night,” but that it disrupts sleep during the second half, which is when your deepest sleep occurs
When you quit drinking, your body will rest better, which will improve your energy levels, concentration, mood, and mental performance.
You’ll Lose Weight
Alcohol is full of empty calories. An average beer contains approximately 150 calories. If you are a weekend drinker and typically have five beers on Friday and 5 beers on Saturday, that’s 1500 calories saved in a week. That’s pushing a full days worth of calories right there.
Your Skin Will Look Better
Since alcohol is a diuretic, you urinate more when drinking on a regular basis. This causes you to be less hydrated than you should be. When you quit drinking, you’ll be more hydrated, and this shows up on your skin in a positive way.
You Will Be Able to Concentrate More
Several studies have suggested that your concentration levels can improve up to 18% and your work performance can go up by 17% after a month of not drinking any alcohol.
That’s a substantial boost to your mental health!
Your Immune System Will Improve
Heavy drinking makes you more
susceptible to serious infections like tuberculosis and pneumonia because alcohol suppresses both the innate and the adaptive immune systems.
One study specified that “alcohol’s combined effects on both innate and adaptive immunity significantly weaken host defenses, predisposing chronic drinkers to a wide range of health problems, including infections and systemic inflammation”.
When you quit drinking, your body is much better at fighting off infections because the immune system is no longer suppressed.
You Will Feel More Alert
Alcohol can disrupt the way neurotransmitters work in your brain. You chalk up the foggy brain to a hangover, but there’s more happening than that.
Your neurotransmitters aren’t working as well, especially if you’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time.
After you’ve put alcohol in the rear view mirror for several months, your head will feel more clear than it has in a long time.
Your Muscles Will Thank You
If you are someone who works out and enjoys staying in shape, your muscles could benefit if you quit drinking. For one thing, you put a lot of hard work into building up muscle and staying in shape.
Drowning your muscles in beer and wine only helps add empty calories. There has also been recent studies that suggests that alcohol my decrease the production of human growth hormone, which is a key part of muscle building and repair.
The Bottom Line
We’ve taken a look at how to quit drinking for a healthier body and mind. It’s readily apparent how much alcohol is woven into the fabric of our society. Like most things in life, you can control whether you pick up a drink or not. It’s not impossible to stop!
If you decide that drinking isn’t for you, you are on your way to a healthier body and mind.