This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking
The pandemic has made many of us drink. Many of us add another cocktail, beer, or glass of wine at night, whether it's an extra stress reliever or trying to ease months of nerve-wracking monotony. Does it lead to sluggish, irritable mornings? Sometimes. But even if you don't notice the change if you look at the science of what happens when you stop drinking, let's just say you might be worrying about how to lean into this new habit.
First of all, alcohol in moderation is mostly okay and maybe even good for you, according to some research. The problem lies in the fact that it is surprisingly easy to beat what the experts call "moderate". For men, drinking 15 or more drinks a week makes them a "heavy" or "problematic" drinker. For women, it only takes 12 or more a week to enter the problem area.
If you have had that many drinks now for seven days, it doesn't mean you are an alcoholic (although doing so puts you at risk of becoming addicted). However, it is harmful to your health. "Alcohol is non-discriminatory - it affects the entire body," said Mita Johnson, addiction educator and president of NAADAC, the Association of Addiction Professionals. "It slows systems down and makes them work harder than necessary, and that becomes problematic."
Some of the cons of heavy drinking are painfully obvious: low energy levels, morning headaches, a growing waistline, to name a few. Others are more subtle but potentially more harmful, such as B. high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, liver damage and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and various types of cancer. "Just because you can't feel something doesn't mean nothing is happening in your body," says Johnson.
The good news is that these negative effects are reversible. Eliminating alcohol can help you stand up more, be more patient with your children, clear your mind, and be in much better overall health - and it won't be long before you reap the benefits. While each person's experience will be unique, here is a general schedule of what happens when heavy drinkers take a rest.
What happens when you stop drinking: Day 1
On your first day without a drink, don't expect to feel any different. Unlike an alcoholic who experiences acute withdrawal symptoms and cravings within a few hours of leaving the cold turkey, most heavy drinkers who quit won't notice the effects immediately “because you don't have that much alcohol in your system all the time . ”
What you might notice is sugar or carbohydrate cravings as your body isn't getting the empty calories it's used to from alcohol. "If you stop using alcohol, your sweet tooth will still show up, so be careful what foods and drinks you replace it with," Johnson says.
What happens when you stop drinking: days 2 and 3
Since you are unlikely to be physically addicted to alcohol, going without it for a few days doesn't make that much difference physiologically. Emotionally, however, you could be missing out on the relaxation and relaxation that you are used to from wine, beer or mixed drinks. When a stressful situation arises you may want you to have your point of contact and feel easily irritated that there is nothing you can indulge in. Simply slide it through. Good things will happen.
What happens when you stop drinking: Days 4 through 7
According to Johnson, subtle physiological changes occur within 72 to 96 hours without alcohol. The first big problem that most people will notice is getting more sound sleep, as alcohol greatly affects sleep cycles.
"When a problem drinker has alcohol in their system, two things happen: They have fewer REM cycles than normal and often don't sleep all night," explains Johnson. “The body breaks alcohol down into sugar before further breaking it down into vinegar and water for the kidneys to remove. At the point where it's sugar, it's a stimulant and the effects are enough to wake you up at night. “Although most people eventually fall asleep again, they often don't get a deep sleep, which is key to cell regeneration and restoring energy.
After four or five consecutive days with no alcohol in the system, sleep cycles usually begin to normalize, according to Johnson, and people wake up refreshed and rejuvenated.
What happens when you stop drinking: Week 2
With a better sleep comes more energy during the day. Once restful nights become a regular occurrence, tasks feel less stressful, work doesn't drag as much, and if your kids ask you to play a board game, you're more likely to say yes.
At this point, you'll find that you look better too. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that you pee more, flush water out of your body, and lead to dehydration. This hinders all systems, but it really shows on the face. When skin cells are dried out, the face looks dull, dry, tired, and old. When alcohol is no longer absorbing your moisture cells, you may be less scared of the reflection in the mirror.
What happens when you stop drinking: Weeks 3 through 5
This is when the really good stuff starts to happen. After a few weeks to a month, Johnson says, the central nervous system repairs: "You think more clearly, your memory is better, and you can concentrate better." At the same time, anxiety and depressive symptoms often subside.
You are also likely to experience fewer digestive problems. "If you drink regularly, your stomach is upset because of too much acid," says Johnson. “This can cause pain, indigestion, and acid reflux. For many people, this all slows down and starts reversing after several weeks of not drinking. "
The liver and kidneys also get a lot healthier, which Johnson says is a very big deal. "The liver is so important," she says. "It is responsible for ridding the body of toxins and converting nutrients into substances the body can use, such as vitamin K for blood clotting, that will return to normal levels." We're seeing a reversal of alcohol-related fatty liver problems, which can lead to liver cancer if someone stops drinking. The cirrhosis or scarring of the liver will stop. "
During the three to five weeks, sugar cravings caused by a lack of alcohol tend to subside, Johnson adds. And assuming you haven't indulged the cravings in the past few weeks, you might find that your clothes are a little looser. Johnson insists that it is impossible to set a weight loss schedule because everyone's diet, metabolism, and activity level are different. Even so, it's common for people to lose a few pounds at this point.
What happens when you stop drinking: Months 1 to 3
After a few months of abstinence from alcohol, any positive changes that result from abstinence lead to a significant improvement in long-term health prognoses. "Within a month to a few months, we see a decrease in heart problems such as high cholesterol and blood pressure," says Johnson. "Future cancer risks - such as throat, stomach and liver cancer - also decrease significantly." Cheers.
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