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What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

03/10/2019

If you’re considering doing Sober October, you might be wondering what happens when you stop drinking alcohol.

“Taking a break from drinking alcohol—even if it’s just for a couple of weeks—is a good idea, especially if you’re regularly consuming more than the recommended daily limit,” says Dr Damon Raskin, a Los Angeles–based physician who is certified in addiction medicine.

Current NHS guidance states that, to keep health risks from alcohol low, women should drink no more than a bottle and a half of wine per week – and it should be spread out.

Whether you drink more or less than the guidelines, you might notice some changes take place in your body, which are outlined below.

1. YOU’LL SLEEP MORE SOUNDLY

One recent study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found drinking before bed increases alpha wave patterns in the brain—a kind of cerebral activity that usually occurs when you’re awake but resting.

The result? Disrupted sleep quality. Another review of 27 studies found that while alcohol may help people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it seriously messes with sleep quality after that initial restful period.

You may toss and turn a bit at first, but give up alcohol and the sleep you get will likely leave you feeling more refreshed and sharp the next day.

The byproducts of better sleep? Improved mood, concentration and mental performance, Raskin says.

2. YOU’LL CONSUME LESS AT DINNER

According to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, alcohol is one of the biggest drivers of excess food intake.

That may be because alcohol heightens our senses, according to a new study published in the journal Obesity. Researchers found some women who’d received an alcohol ‘infusion’ equivalent to about two drinks ate 30 per cent more food than those who’d received a saline solution.

Even mild intoxication increased the women’s brain activity in the hypothalamus, making them more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting them to eat more.

3. YOU MAY FEEL NEW SUGAR CRAVINGS

Sugar boosts levels of the ‘reward’ chemical dopamine, which fuels feelings of pleasure, Raskin says. Alcohol does the same thing.

So it’s very possible that when you give up one substance that causes happy-making chemicals to float around your brain, you’ll be more likely to reach for the other.

“Don’t be surprised if you try to get that same enjoyment or rush you used to get after a drink from something sweet,” he says.

4. YOU’LL CUT DOWN ON CALORIES

Alcohol has a sneaky way of increasing your daily calorie intake without you realising it. One margarita may contain 300 calories or more—mostly from sugar—and an Aperol can have upward of 245 calories dependent on how friendly the barman is.

One study found men consume an additional 433 calories on those days they drink a ‘moderate’ amount of alcohol. For women, it’s 300 calories.

Cutting those means goodbye to hidden calories.

5. AND YOU’LL SAY HELLO, CLEAR COMPLEXION

Within a few days, you’ll notice your skin looking and feeling more hydrated. That’s because alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to urinate more, Raskin says.

Alcohol also decreases the body’s production of antidiuretic hormone, which helps the body reabsorb water. (Less water in the body equals parched-looking skin.)

Ruddiness in your cheeks and around your nose may also start to fade, and other skin conditions—such as dandruff, eczema or rosacea—may also improve, Raskin says.

6. YOU’LL HAVE MORE MONEY

Drinking—especially a fine wine or scotch habit—is an expensive undertaking. Take a moment to crunch the numbers, adding up what you spend for drinks both at home and out on the town. It can be an eye-opening—and motivating—exercise.

7. ENVY WILL OVERCOME YOU WHEN YOU’RE AROUND OTHERS WHO ARE DRINKING

It’s important to understand that there will be times when you have FOMO—and it can make you pretty testy, Raskin says.

“People often use alcohol as a lubricant for emotions, and when they stop drinking they may feel agitated and restless,” he adds.

8. YOUR RISK FOR CANCER FALLS, THOUGH YOUR HEART DISEASE RISK MAY CREEP UP

According to the National Cancer Institute, alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk for cancers of the mouth, liver, breast, colon, and rectum. The risk increases the more you drink.

On the other hand, multiple studies have shown moderate alcohol consumption may lower your odds of heart trouble.

More research suggests your risk for stroke, diabetes and mortality may all rise slightly when you give up alcohol—assuming you were a light drinker before you quit.

From: Prevention US

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