During the quarantine prompted by the COVID-19 virus, alcohol sales are up 14 to 53%, depending on the venue and type of drink. The extra time at home can prompt people to start drinking, drink more than usual, or even relapse if they were in recovery.
A Timely List
To that end, we think it is timely to review again some of the many, many reasons to quit drinking, from increased financial independence to a greater sense of empowerment. Times are tough, dealing with this pandemic, but drinking will only deteriorate your health and well-being. We hope that this list inspires you to embrace a sober lifestyle, free of alcohol and filled with opportunity.
- Save money. Consider how much you spent on your last bar tab or at the liquor store. Probably close to fifty dollars and upwards, right? Now consider what you could do with all of that money if you didn’t spend it on alcohol. You could dive into a new hobby, sign up for a class you always wanted to take, or do more traveling. You can download innovative applications for iPhones and Androids that help you track the exact amount of money you save when you quit habits like drinking.
- Repair your liver. Our livers are responsible not only for detoxing all of the blood in our body of harmful toxins, but also for bile and protein production, nutrient metabolism and storage, and a handful of other essential functions that keep us healthy. Alcohol addiction severely overworks this organ, leaving it undernourished and potentially diseased. When you quit drinking, you can repair some or most of this damage, especially if you eat a healthy diet, get proper hydration and electrolyte balance, and exercise.
- Avoid DUIs and legal complications. While you may be driving less during the COVID-19 crisis, quitting drinking now reduces your risks for when you get back on the road. Sobriety brings with it a sense of freedom, including the freedom and relief of knowing you no longer have to worry about your drinking leading to a DUI or other legal complication. A sober lifestyle enables you to make more informed decisions and to have discernment about where you spend your time and with whom.
- Renew relationships. Alcohol addiction can damage–even destroy–relationships. When you quit drinking, you have the chance, over time, to heal your relationships. Without the influence of alcohol, honest communication can begin to take place. You can address the broken trust between you and your loved ones and cultivate compassion and forgiveness.
- Boost your immune system. Research suggests that continuous alcohol consumption will compromise the immune system, rendering us more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, imbalanced endocrine systems, and emotional problems. Evidence also suggests a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and disease and death. Embracing sobriety now will reshape your potential health outcomes.
- Regulate sleep cycles. Alcohol is a depressant by nature, and while it may seem to help you sleep, there is a huge difference between an alcohol-induced slumber and deep, restorative sleep. Alcohol disrupts our bodies’ response to certain neurotransmitters in the brain such as gamma aminobutyric acid (or GABA), serotonin, and norepinephrine. Alcohol is also linked with increased chances of sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, and related conditions. While insomnia can often plague the newly sober, eventually the brain will regulate itself and provide better sleep. Herbal teas such as chamomile and lavender are safe and flavorful ways to help the brain relax during this time.
- Feel good in the morning. It is hard enough to get out of bed in the morning, eat a nourishing breakfast, and make it to work on time, whether you’re working from home because of the COVID-19 sitution or not. Adding a wicked headache and nausea to the mix makes it even worse, if not impossible. One of the greatest benefits of tackling alcohol addiction is the liberation from hangovers and hanxiety. With a new sober lifestyle, the time that was once spent nursing a hangover can be devoted to more meaningful tasks like taking on more responsibilities at work or creating a self-care routine that feels supportive, such as journaling or listening to music.
- Empowerment. This is a biggy! Those in recovery can sometimes feel powerless or weak as they transition to sobriety. How can you trust yourself? But as you embrace a sober lifestyle, your thinking will no longer be muddled by alcohol, and you will be able to make decisions with clarity and focus. Being able to fully own your decisions is empowering. Recovery will allow you to reconnect with your inner voice.
- Reduce risks for heart attacks and strokes. The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued numerous warnings addressing the potential health concerns of binge drinking and alcohol consumption in general. Research suggests an increased risk for serious heart conditions and strokes due to alcohol’s ability to affect blood circulation and coagulation and to increase LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
- Lose weight and feel good. One twelve-ounce beer contains approximately 140 calories, and a shot of vodka is about 100 calories per shot! These numbers add up fairly quickly while regularly consuming alcohol. Many assume that because alcohol suppresses the appetite, drinking will result in rapid weight loss, but the stark opposite is true. Alcohol actually decreases our bodies’ metabolism, slowing the rate at which we burn calories. Alcohol is also linked to the overproduction of estrogen, a hormone that in some may cause weight gain, specifically around the waist and the chest. Replacing alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks that have fewer calories, such as fruit drinks, smoothies, and infused water, can not only support sobriety but also encourage weight loss.
Are You Ready? We Can Help
There are many reasons to consider abstaining from alcohol use. If you are ready to begin the journey to sobriety, please reach out to our team at Great Oaks Recovery Center. We are open, with precautions in place to protect you from the COVID-19 virus. We would love to help you experience the many benefits of an alcohol-free life.