“Not a Drop More”: How Quitting Alcohol will Make your Life Better

Aug 26, 2019

 

Alcohol has become a vital part of life for many. A bottle of beer in front of  the TV after work, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, an unlimited number of cocktails at a friend’s birthday party… Even if you drink infrequently, alcohol consumption can become a serious problem sooner or later – it could develop into an addiction that will take a long time to fight. In this article we will discuss an important question: how can you quit alcohol? How will your life change after giving up alcohol?

Contents:

 

  • Who should completely stop drinking alcohol?
  • Quitter’s calendar: what happens after quitting alcohol?
  • Abrupt abandonment of alcohol: mistakes, consequences
  • Benefits of a sober lifestyle
  • Nine tips to quit drinking

Who should completely stop drinking alcohol?

Quitting alcohol is reducing the use of alcohol to a minimum level or its complete exclusion. [1]

 

There are many reasons why people at some point decide to completely stop alcohol consumption. These can be related to health problems caused by excessive drinking. Another common reason is an individual’s desire for a healthy lifestyle, having experienced all the advantages that quitting alcohol provides.

 

Sobriety is necessary if:

 

Alcohol addiction is developing rapidly, withdrawal symptoms appear and it is no longer possible to independently reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.

There are physical or mental illnesses related to alcohol which have started to appear.

Even a small amount of alcohol leads to a loss of self-control – committing rash acts, excessive spending of money, aggression.

Pregnancy is planned.

 

You can understand whether you are addicted to alcohol by asking yourself: “Are you looking for reasons or excuses why you can and should drink?” and “How often does this happen?” Assess how much the situation has changed recently and answer these questions as honestly as possible.

 

In this way you can understand whether you really need to give up alcohol, or you only use it in small quantities and have no dependence.

Quitter’s calendar: what happens after quitting alcohol?

“I won’t say that I drank too much and often. But my obligatory minimum of alcohol was this: a Friday party with friends for cocktails, a couple of bottles of beer a week for an interesting movie, Sunday dinner with my husband with 1-2 glasses of wine. My decision to completely abandon alcohol came unexpectedly. I just thought that it would be nice to test myself – to see if I could completely stop drinking alcohol. My life changed a lot when I did this.

 

As soon as I informed my friends that I had stopped drinking, they took it as a joke and for a long time did not believe me. They thought that I was pregnant or unwell with something, since I had made such a decision. My husband did not get used to my sobriety right away. Even my mother was distrustful of my decision – she asked if everything was okay with me. It is strange, but people’s understanding of sobriety is something out of the ordinary.

 

Quitting alcohol was not easy for me. Whatever party I attended, acquaintances and unfamiliar people would desperately try to give me a drink – “for good health”, “well, just the one!”. There were more than enough temptations. But I steadfastly held on. Only after a couple of months did I get used to the idea that in my life there is no place for alcohol.

 

After these months, I noticed that I had lost weight. All of the snacks with beer and wine had obviously harmed my figure. I began to sleep much better and feel vigor in the morning. My husband and I continue to meet friends. but the number of feasts and noisy parties have become much fewer. It turned out that without the numbing in the form of alcohol, I found the loud music in bars just annoying. I perceive all these as positive changes – so many free evenings have appeared. No more hangovers in the morning and my husband and have even joined a dance school. There are other ways to  delight.

 

As of this moment, I have not been drinking for six months. And I do not intend to interrupt my sober lifestyle for I like it. I am glad about everything that happened to me since quitting alcohol. It’s as if I have become more free!”

 

– Marina, 30

 

 

If a person drinks only occasionally and strictly controls their alcohol intake, then giving up the habit will go easily. But when alcohol consumption develops into a disease, and physical dependence has already been formed, the body will “resist” the lower doses. It such cases it is worth preparing for the fact that the transition to a healthy lifestyle will drag on for more than one month.

How does the body recover after giving up alcohol?

Period
Physiological and emotional changes
Day 1
After many years of drinking alcohol, even a day without alcohol seems an impressive amount of time. The body will demand another dose of ethyl alcohol. The first thing a drinker has to face is withdrawal syndrome of some severity. Symptoms are as follows: nausea, constipation, or diarrhea; dizziness; headache; hand tremor; fever; mood swings.
Day 2
Signs of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, compared with the first day, will be slightly reduced, but the body is still undergoing an active detoxification process involving the removal of the decaying products of ethyl alcohol. This may be accompanied by abdominal pain. In some cases, during the recovery of the body, discomfort in the liver is also apparent. The head continues to ache. A person who has begun to fight addiction may seek solitude, he/she is easily annoyed, sometimes aggressive and suffering from insomnia or nightmares. He/she sees everything in black – it seems that it will always be so bad. Therefore, during the first days it is most difficult to resist the desire to drink. An individual wants to get rid of these torments as soon as possible, but at this time, severe anxiety or panic fear can arise, sometimes flowing into an obsessive thoughts that if you do not drink it will be a disaster. Everything is aggravated by the severe state of the body. In the process of restructuring to work without alcohol, all body systems can malfunction, that is why this terrible impression develops – “I will die if I don’t drink”.
Day 3
The body in the first days after giving up alcohol begins to recover. Physical well-being improves, but the psyche is still “at the limit”. The addict can even get annoyed with the sound of a dripping tap. Mood swings provoke a headache and outbreaks of aggression. Sleep is still disturbed.
Days 4-5
Withdrawal syndrome in addicts at the first and second stages of alcoholism almost completely recedes. The drinker begins to feel hungry. But heavy meals can cause nausea and stool problems.
Days 6-8
The addict completely passes the withdrawal syndrome. His/her mental state significantly improves. About 7 days after quitting alcohol, sleep normalizes. A person begins to sleep more deeply, which means he/she feels much more cheerful than previously. The surge of energy often causes a desire to finally take up physical pursuits or sports. A person’s skin tone improves (swelling and red spots disappear) and hands cease to tremble, the work of the gastrointestinal tract normalizes.
2 weeks
Over the next week, a restoration of thinking processes occurs – consciousness becomes clearer and confusion of thoughts finally disappear. Pain in the head no longer an issue. Doctors note that 2 weeks after completely quitting alcohol, the heart rate and pressure indicators return to normal, shortness of breath disappears, and normal breathing is restored. A person who has given up drinking can experience weight gain during this period. Some try delicious, high-calorie food to compensate for alcohol.
Month
By the end of the first month after giving up alcohol, the body has removed the decaying products of ethyl alcohol. However, the psychological state can be difficult. Often a person becomes sad and depressed. He/she has lost the usual model of behavior, and this is stressful. Now he/she needs to figure out how to live on, what to do, how to compensate, etc. After one has gone through the first stage of withdrawal, he/she rejoices and enjoys a sober life for several days, but immediately after that the “struggle of motives” begins – “to drink or not to drink”. This is a stress and also a risk of developing depression. On the one hand, a person understands that it has become easier for him/her and that he/she has endured severe pain and discomfort, but the cravings that previously formed a pattern of behavior do not allow alcohol to be completely abandoned. The person is caught between “to drink or not to drink”, and the search for reasons to relapse begins, he/she often looks for an excuse. Hence the mood swings and irritability increase. If you are prepared for this, that is, you understand that this is inevitable, but temporary and will soon pass, it may be a little easier. But the physical condition improves – teeth whiten, swellings of the face and limbs disappear, and the dark circles go away. Trembling hands are no longer a concern. During the first and subsequent months after giving up alcohol, the liver function is actively restored.
3 months
The “quitter’s immunity” begins to work at full power. A person has become healthy and energetic. He/she has already learned to spend free time without alcohol, having found interesting replacement activities. Even a long period of abstinence is not a guarantee that a person will not break and start drinking alcohol again. The risk of relapse is still very high. If during stressful periods of life the hand reaches for the bottle, you need to stop yourself. Only willpower will help now.
6 months
6 months is an impressive period for a sober life. People who previously struggled with addiction will as a rule, have found interesting hobbies and activities. It helps not to think about alcohol while enjoying life.
Year
The physical and emotional state of the person who has quit drinking is stable. A person realizes that life without alcohol is beautiful. He/she actively communicates with friends and relatives, searches for goals in life and reaches them. After a long time without alcohol, the liver and kidneys are completely restored as long as no serious pathologies in the work of organs were previously diagnosed.

Abrupt abandonment of alcohol: mistakes, consequences

It is believed that a sharp and sudden quitting of alcohol can harm the health. This is only partially true.

 

If we are talking about the taking of alcohol in small doses, then the complete abolition of alcohol-containing drinks will only positively affect the state of the body. A person with the right behavioral attitudes can easily and painlessly give up alcohol. In such cases, the phrase “one can’t stop drinking abruptly” is just an excuse for those who are not yet ready to lead a sober lifestyle.

 

However for people who are diagnosed with the first or second stage of alcoholism, the sudden giving up of alcohol can, in fact, be harmful. They, as a rule, are faced with real withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal syndrome shows itself here in all its glory. In the acute stage, it can provoke convulsions and fainting, and it is fraught with negative health consequences. [1]

 

Why does the addict’s body react so violently to a decrease in the concentration of ethanol in blood? If the person has been drinking for many years, the functions of the internal systems under the influence of alcohol will have changed significantly. The synthesis of enzymes and hormones will have been disrupted and the organs will work falteringly. It will take time to restore the body after giving up alcohol – the detoxification process lasts at least a month.

 

 

With diagnosed alcoholism, the detoxification process of the body should occur under the supervision of specialists. In some cases, medical removal of the patient from the temptation to binge is required. Since a sharp change can have negative consequences for human health and it becomes almost impossible to practice various alternative methods of eliminating the habit.

Benefits of a sober lifestyle

The quest to get rid of alcohol addiction is a long road, which tends to be accompanied by numerous relapses. This is a real test of willpower and endurance, but as a reward you will get all the benefits of a sober life.

 

What positive changes will occur after giving up alcohol?

 

  1. Good health

Alcohol used in excess negatively affects most organs. Even low concentration alcoholic drinks can harm the liver, kidneys, pancreas, cardiovascular system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Quitting alcohol is an effective prevention of many serious illnesses that contribute to an early death.

 

In general, a sober lifestyle strengthens the immune system. Say no to alcohol and you will see that in winter you will become less sick. Already in the first month of quitting alcohol, the condition of your skin, hair and nails will improve. You will notice that your general appearance is much better.

 

  1. Good sleep

It is believed that a couple of glasses of wine in the evening will help you to fall asleep better, but this is a myth that you should not believe. When the effect of alcohol passes, a person may suddenly wake up, which violates the rest. Sleep after drinking even a small amount of alcohol is restless and shallow.

 

After 2-3 weeks of complete abandonment, good sleep is restored. Your rest is not violated by anything, which means that in the morning you will feel cheerful. [2]

 

  1. Feeling happiness

Many people think that alcohol is a something of an antidepressant. But the fact is that it provides a good mood only for a short time, which is then followed by apathy, aggression and guilt. You start to think that for the whole spectrum of negative emotions to go away, you just have to drink a little more. This is how a psychological dependence on alcohol is formed – a person ceases to enjoy life without the stimulation of alcohol.

 

Once you start to lead a sober lifestyle, you will gradually learn to be happy without alcohol. When being offered alcohol, the body may try to “resist” this, demanding another portion of doping. But if you allow a sober month to pass, you will look at the world with completely different eyes.

 

  1. Good memory

Scientists have found that drinking alcohol reduces a person’s ability to remember, because with the development of addiction, ethyl alcohol gradually destroys the neural connections in the brain. An “experienced” alcoholic will hardly remember his/her address or important dates.

 

Breaking neural connections is a reversible process however. It is a good motivation to stop drinking. Quitting alcohol, you will notice that thoughts become clearer. Any information is better absorbed and remembered and the overall performance of the brain increases. It is believed that memory efficiency can be restored on average after 2-3 months.

 

  1. Financial stability

Positive changes in the body are not the only advantage of refusing alcohol. Another welcome bonus is saving money. High-quality alcoholic drinks are expensive and this can be a serious blow to the budget.

 

Calculate for yourself how much you will save per month if you quit your daily alcohol intake.

 

Nine tips to quit drinking

It doesn’t matter after how long you decide to stop drinking, switching to a sober lifestyle is associated with major changes in life. You will have to change your established habits, and work on yourself.

 

The following recommendations will help you give up alcoholic dependency in its initial stages

 

1. Take a “sober pause”

Those who can’t get used to the idea that from now on there will not be a drop of alcohol may try to fool the brain. A good option is to take a sober pause. That is, to begin with, set yourself an achievable goal – perhaps not to drink at all for 30 days. This will be a kind of pause in the established lifestyle of regular drinking.

 

Perhaps, having experienced all the positive changes after the short pause you will have an incentive to stop drinking forever.

 

2. Find an interesting hobby

Replace bad addictions with good ones. This will distract you during the first, most difficult weeks after you have completely quit alcohol. An interesting hobby will calm you and create positive emotions. If earlier only alcohol brought positive emotions, now your hobby will.

 

Think about what you would like to try and proceed without hesitation.

 

3. Relieve irritation with sports

Quitting syndrome is certain to be accompanied by mood swings. Sadness, indefatigable joy, aggression, irritability – an addict can experience a whole range of emotions within an hour. This will cause discomfort not only to him/her, but also to others.

 

According to narcologists, sports will help the body after a complete rejection of alcohol. Exercises will relieve psycho-emotional stress and distract you from negative thoughts. Getting used to regular training can be difficult, but over time it will become easier, and the effort will pay off handsomely. You will become calmer, and in addition, you will start to bring the body back into shape and strengthen the immune system.

 

Physical activity can help with the rejection of alcohol at the initial stage, in the so-called “pink period”. In such cases, it is advisable to first obtain the support of a doctor.

 

4. Start planning your day

If you give up alcohol, you will have to learn how to plan each day (at least during the initial period). Let your schedule have as many active “windows” as possible – then there will be less temptation to spend a boring evening with a glass of wine or beer. Literally, in a month you won’t have to force yourself – you will have a lot of interesting pastimes.

 

5. Show your willpower

Most likely, sooner or later you will come across a temptation – a party with friends, a feast with relatives. Show your willpower in your quest to give up alcohol. At first this may turn out to be unusual, but very soon you will learn to have fun without any intoxication.

In the periods of even temporarily giving up alcohol, it is not necessary to stay at home. You can meet with friends and relatives, but just make sure in advance that there will be enough soft drinks at the party.

 

6. Tell your aspiration to the world

Share your decision to stop drinking with others, at least with those closest to you. Friends and family members will certainly support your goals, and with such a base, you can overcome any difficulties. In addition, you can minimize the risk of relapses – knowing that you have seriously decided to give up alcohol, friends ought not to persuade you to drink.

 

Blogging on the Internet may help some people. It may motivate you to share your successes and failures with subscribers and get support from them.

 

7. Start keeping your “diary of sobriety”

Are you not yet ready to make your goals and plans public? Then keep a personal diary. This is also useful for getting rid of other bad habits.

 

On the pages of the diary, record every day the process you are going through in your aim to quit alcohol – your physical and emotional state and further plans and goals.

 

8. Made a mistake? Do not be discouraged

No one is immune from mistakes on the way to achieving a goal. Given how difficult it is to deal with addictions, do not blame yourself if you have a setback trying to stop drinking forever. This is not a failure, but just a “hiccup” along the right track. Let this be an additional motivation, so that the next time you definitely will not regress.

 

9. Use the 7Spsy behavior modification technique

A sober lifestyle goal deserves respect. But it’s not necessary to achieve it alone. The process of completely abandoning alcohol will be much easier if you turn to a psychologist for some help.

 

Behavioral psychology based on changing a destructive behavior model is effective in combating addictions. An excellent result has been shown by the 7Spsy behavior modification technique. This is a patented method based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky.

 

Completing the course will help you develop positive attitudes and encourage you to stop drinking alcohol. You will learn the healthy behavior model necessary to finally say a solid no to alcohol. The training will help you switch to a sober lifestyle with minimal physical and psychological discomfort. You will realize how good it is to live without alcohol – you will be accompanied by a stable emotional state, high performance, and a feeling of well-being.

 

Working with a psychologist on the 7Spsy behavior modification technique is designed for up to 6 weeks. You will not need to share information with your friends and family. Training sessions are strictly confidential, and you can take them at a time convenient for you. Specialists answer all questions and advise by e-mail, in chat rooms and by phone.

 

 

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