A lot happens to your body when you drink alcohol. Your blood pressure and sugar levels change, you become drowsy, and with enough in your system, you eventually find it more difficult to speak correctly and walk in a straight line. If this becomes a consistent pattern, you might eventually find yourself needing more alcohol to feel “relaxed” and satiate your cravings. But even if you’ve never consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication or blacking out, there are plenty of reasons to stop drinking. Here are a few.
The short-term effects of alcohol include slurred speech, drowsiness, relaxation, distorted vision, and more. Although everyone’s tolerance for alcohol varies, with enough in your system, eventually, that desirable “buzz” becomes a dizzy feeling of incoordination, slurred words, and confusion. The more someone drinks, the higher the risk of alcohol poisoning and blackouts.
And, of course, we can’t forget the infamous hangover. Most people who had nights when they had one too many drinks are familiar with hangovers. That’s the day-after-drinking syndrome marked by headaches, nausea, and other unsightly side effects of overdrinking. These only make up a few of the 16 reasons to stop drinking that we’ve shared below.
Have you ever calculated how much money you spend on alcohol? If you’re a weekly drinker, find the sum. Now multiply that by 52. Shocking right?
Alcohol is expensive and, combined with lowered inhibitions, it’s easy to order back-to-back drinks regardless of the effect on your body and your wallet. Even if you limit your drinking to the weekends, this habit can quickly add up.
Eventually, the more often you drink, the more likely the habit will cut into your other expenses, such as rent or mortgage, groceries, car payments, phone bills, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, financial stress is a common contributing factor to heavy or frequent drinking, which can create a dangerous cycle. One of the best reasons to quit drinking alcohol is to save money and avoid financial stress.
If we’re honest, no one likes feeling hungover. Your head hurts, you’re nauseous, and you feel physically drained. You may even wonder whether drinking that whole bottle of wine or those eight bottles of beer was worth it.
Of all the reasons to stop drinking, this one is felt immediately. Imagine waking up the next morning after a long night out with friends and not feeling productive or refreshed, or even simply tired from going to bed late. If you can’t remember the last time you didn’t wake up with a hangover the day after hanging out with friends, then put this reason to the test.
Of the many good reasons to stop drinking, healthier-looking skin is a major one. Think about it: is alcohol worth looking years older than you really are? Is it worth premature aging and skin wrinkling?
When you drink, your body (including your skin) becomes dehydrated and is deprived of necessary nutrients. Alcohol also throws off your blood sugar levels, which impacts your hormones and increases the likelihood of acne and other unwanted skin problems.
Over time, heavy drinking can have a more permanent effect on the skin, leading to excessive wrinkling, lose or saggy skin, jaundice, inflammation, and broken capillaries in the face or nose. If this is a description that you don’t want to fit, replace alcohol with water and watch your skin thrive.
One of the main health reasons to stop drinking is to lower your risk of cancer. Alcohol can lead to cancer of various kinds, including liver, breast, colon, esophagus, mouth, throat, rectum, and voice box cancer. Especially if you already suffer from issues in any of these areas, alcohol may only make it worse.
Alcoholic drinks often contain empty calories and high levels of sugar and carbohydrates. As a result, frequent drinking can lead to some unwanted weight gain, hence the term “beer belly.” A glass of regular beer has about 150 calories, and a serving of wine has about 120 calories. But how much are you consuming after six beers or four glasses of wine?
Like money, the calories add up. Alcohol also ramps up your appetite because it has no nutritional value (empty calories.) In turn, not only are you drinking lots of calories, but your appetite opens, so you eat lots of calories, too. When you stay away from alcohol, you might lose some weight and adopt healthier eating habits.
Do you drink at night because it helps you sleep? Although alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it doesn’t support long-term sleep or a restful night.
In fact, alcohol blocks your REM or restorative sleep, which is the stage of your sleep cycle that stimulates the areas of your brain associated with learning and making or retaining memories. In the long run, poor concentration, irritability, lack of productivity, and memory problems are some of the sleep problems that alcohol can cause.
Although alcohol is often consumed to feel relaxed, drinking impacts mental health when consumed frequently and in large amounts. Even if you aren’t struggling with mental illness, alcohol’s impact on GABA and other chemical levels in the brain can contribute to mood swings. Therefore, it’s common for people with alcohol use disorders and binge drinkers to become easily angered, have violent outbursts, be impulsive, and be demanding and threatening.
Because alcohol can impact your mood, chronic, heavy drinking can eventually affect how you treat others and your relationships. You might begin to isolate yourself from your loved ones or find yourself easily angered or argumentative. If you’ve already noticed your mood or mental health changing because of your drinking, quit while you’re ahead.
A lot of people who struggle with alcohol abuse initially took to drinking as a coping mechanism. Whether it’s for stress, mental illness, or any other issue, using alcohol to self-medicate anything is a dangerous road to take. At this point, alcohol becomes an emotional crutch, which can make quitting more difficult.
Emotional attachment to a substance is also a common sign of a growing addiction. If you find yourself emotionally distressed whenever you think of quitting drinking, you should reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. Additionally, if you find yourself unable to stop drinking or emotionally dependent on it, our Heartland recovery center offers various levels of addiction treatment that can help.
Alcohol-related injuries make up one-tenth of the total impact of alcohol on health. Alcohol also impacts health systems, contributing to between 5% and 40% of all emergency department injuries across 27 countries.1 Common injuries associated with alcohol use include:
Especially if you’re a heavy or frequent drinker, quitting alcohol can greatly reduce your risk of accident, injury, and even death.
Although we’ve mentioned a few ways your health improves when you quit drinking, general physical changes you might experience when you stop drinking include improved:
These positive changes can also contribute to improved self-confidence and self-esteem, among other good changes in your mental and physical health.
And speaking of changes, alcohol can also impact your ability to perform at school and work. Not only can alcohol intoxication produce immediate effects that can interfere with everything from concentration to movement, but long-term drinking can also impact the way your brain works. We’ve also mentioned alcohol’s effects on mood and mental health, all of which can lead to inhibited performance at school or work.
Additionally, as a person becomes more dependent on alcohol, they tend to neglect other responsibilities in their life, including their job and schoolwork. This could lead to further consequences if drinking isn’t stopped.
You probably know that alcohol directly impacts the liver, mainly because it’s processed through this vital organ. Constant drinking pushes the liver to work harder than it should and doesn’t allow it time to rest. Like anything that’s overworked, it eventually hits a wall.
Signs of liver damage or injury include yellowing skin and eyes, abdominal pain and swelling, itchy skin, and dark urine color. If you have a pre-existing problem with your liver, then alcohol will only make it worse. Quitting drinking reduces these risks.
As we mentioned previously, when people become more and more fixated on drinking, they begin to neglect important areas of their lives, such as their relationships. As a result, a person’s relationship with their spouse, children, family, friends, and even coworkers may suffer because of their alcohol abuse. Drinking not only immediately impacts your mood, but as an addictive substance, drinking heavily and frequently for long periods can lead to addiction.
Addiction is a chronic disease that usually requires treatment to achieve recovery. Because of the emotional and physical hold that substances like alcohol have, someone who’s addicted may eventually prioritize their drinking over other people in their lives, which can lead to various issues. If you find yourself looking forward to drinking more than spending time with loved ones, it might be time to seek out a partial hospitalization program.
As a central nervous system depressant, drinking too much alcohol can make it more difficult for men to get and keep an erection, which can negatively impact a person’s sex life. Alcohol can also lead to decreased sex drive (libido) among women as well as reduced lubrication. Cutting down on the drinking might stir up the romance.
Alcohol increases the levels of a hormone called renin, which leads to vasoconstriction (constricted vessels.) Renin also decreases how much fluid is eliminated in urine. This combination of high fluid levels in the body and constricted blood vessels increases blood pressure. High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.
As a result, chronic high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death. If your blood pressure is high, quit drinking to see if you can lower those numbers. Speak with your doctor to determine what healthy blood pressure is for you and other ways to manage it.
While there are plenty of reasons to quit drinking, our last and most crucial reason is to avoid addiction. Alcohol is an addictive substance and a difficult one to withdraw from when physical dependence develops. Alcoholism is the result of long-term, heavy drinking, which can happen to anyone.
Especially if you have a history of alcoholism in your family, be mindful of your drinking habits. If you find yourself unable to control your drinking regardless of the repercussions it’s had on your life, then you might need alcohol addiction treatment.
Banyan Treatment Centers offers Illinois addiction treatment programs, including treatment for alcoholism, for people with all kinds of substance use disorders. Whether you require 24-hour care in a residential program or support as you transition to a sober life in a PHP, we’re here for you.