Alcohol, like food, is a staple of celebration and social gathering in many people’s lives. It is also a means to cope with life’s stresses. We may turn to a drink to celebrate a birth or mourn a death, to applaud our achievements or drown our failures, to greet the arrival of the weekend or ease the frustrations of a stressful day at work.
Alcohol is everywhere and used for just about any occasion, so deciding to quit can be challenging, even for the most determined person.
When you decide to quit drinking you may feel as if you have excommunicated yourself from the world—one that turns to a drink for just about any reason.
Whether you occasionally binge drink or regularly drink more than the recommended daily limit of alcohol, the following are 3 life-changing reasons why quitting alcohol can change your life for the better.
#1 Save Money
Drinking alcohol can be a very expensive pursuit or life choice. Depending on how much you drink, how frequently you drink and whether or not you are buying drinks at a bar or for home consumption, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars a month to feed your alcohol habit.
Imagine being able to set aside several hundred dollars a month! What would you do with it? You might pay your bills on time, pay off debt, buy that big purchase item you’ve had your eyes on, or save for a dream vacation.
Try this: for the next 7 days, set aside your receipts from alcohol purchases. At the end of the week add up your total and multiply that by 4 and then by 12. That’s how much you could save in a year. Now begin to imagine the things you could be doing with all that money!
#2 Repair Your Relationships
Abusing alcohol can have a devastating effect on relationships, especially the ones you consider the most important. If you are an occasional binge drinker your friends may get wary of the unfiltered behaviors that appear once your inhibition is removed. Or they may get tired of making sure you get home safely, or don’t asphyxiate on your own vomit. They may even get tired of the person you become when you drink if you say and do things that are hurtful.
If you abuse alcohol on a regular basis your loved ones may get tired of you breaking plans or always being intoxicated. They may tire of you losing jobs or asking for money. Your relationship with alcohol may begin to take precedence over your relationships with your loved ones, and that hurt may definitively drive friends and family away.
Whatever your circumstances, identifying that alcohol is causing problems with your friends and family can help you decide to stop drinking and work toward repairing broken relationships. This effort may not be an easy one, especially if you have broken trust, but it is possible to succeed with authentic and deliberate action toward that goal.
#3 Get Healthy
Alcohol abuse affects your heart, liver, and brain. Over time your heart muscles weaken and sag from the strain that alcohol places on it. A weakened heart cannot adequately pump the blood required to flow to other vital organs in the body; impeded blood flow can lead to varying types of chronic illness in addition to high blood pressure, blood clots, irregular heart beat, and stroke.
The liver is usually the most affected organ, since this is where alcohol is metabolized. Drinking alcohol heavily can force the liver to build up fat, a condition most closely associated with cirrhosis and alcoholism, but which can also be caused by binge drinking.
Drinking alcohol can also lead to hepatitis, a condition that if severe enough may require dialysis or even an organ transplant.
Alcohol also affects the areas of the brain that are responsible for coordination, memory, and emotional regulation (anxiety, depression, aggression), as well as the ability to problem solve and learn. Additionally, the byproducts of breaking down alcohol in the liver are toxins, including ammonia and acetylaldehide, which find their way to the brain. These chemicals have been associated with killing brain cells and increasing the risk of certain cancers.
All of these health problems are associated with even a few binge drinking events as well as the chronic abuse of alcohol. There is a silver lining, however—and that is if you do not already have a chronic illness associated with alcohol abuse, abstinence from alcohol and systematic detoxification of the liver can lead to recovery in a few months to a year.
National Institute of Health. (2010). Beyond Hangovers: Understanding Alcohol’s Impact on your Health. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15(7604), 26