Getting sober is no easy feat. It is, no doubt, a difficult process, requiring a lot of support and dedication. People choose to get sober for all different kinds of reasons. And while the impetus for sobriety (and the road to recovery) may be distinct to each person, the benefits of being sober are universally experienced.
No doubt there are some pretty obvious effects of stopping drinking. Sobriety means no more hangovers, no more alcohol-induced “bad decisions,” no more chances for getting a DUI, the list goes on and on. However, there are some unexpected (and very advantageous) effects of sobriety that people don’t typically think about.
If you are thinking about giving up alcohol, be prepared to experience:
Alcohol tends to have a dulling effect on one’s senses and overall brain function. Studies show the brain’s ability to function at it’s normal capacity is diminished for three days following a night of heavy drinking. So, it makes sense that getting sober would immediately increase mental clarity and cognitive abilities. These cognitive changes also promote the brain’s ability to process information quicker, form more distinct thoughts, and retain information for longer.
When you stop putting the unnecessary toxins of alcohol into your body, you will naturally experience increased energy levels. Also, because alcohol is a depressant, eradicating it from your system will help eliminate the inherent lethargy, allowing you to feel more motivated. Plus, not having to deal with hangovers, you will most likely find yourself more driven to be physically active.
Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking extremely thirsty and dry-mouthed? If you haven’t already figured it out, alcohol is hugely dehydrating. And unfortunately, alcohol isn’t only dehydrating your mouth. Alcohol sucks the hydration from your entire body, including your skin. Dry, dehydrated skin is one of the biggest contributing factors to premature aging. And if that is not enough of an argument for premature aging, alcohol also significantly impacts skins elasticity, and contributes to redness and uneven tone. Thankfully, for people getting sober, the skin and complexion is one of the first areas of noticeable change. Staying away from alcohol, the skin can begin to retain more moisture, creating a more radiant, supple appearance.
Heavy drinking tends to go hand in hand with unstable, tumultuous relationships. Thus, it isn’t surprising most alcoholics also struggle with co-dependency issues. Unfortunately, this does not just pertain to intimate relationships, but friendships and family relationships as well. And while, getting sober might mean re-learning how to interact with friends and loved ones, it also means the chance to experience strong relationships, with healthy boundaries and communication.
Go to sleep after a night of drinking, and you will most likely wake feeling unrested and exhausted. This is because alcohol reduces sleep quality and disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle. Sleeping with alcohol in your system disrupts one’s ability experience both rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where brain chemistry is restored, and deep sleep, where the body heals itself. When alcohol is removed from your system, the body will, over time, begin to return to a normal sleep pattern and rhythm.
The world can be a stressful place. Jobs, families, money problems – all of life’s potential stressors make it easy to understand why people need ways to cope. Unfortunately, countless people turn to alcohol as a way to manage the stress. Yet, what many fail to understand is that alcohol actually causes more stress! Alcohol triggers an increased production of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. Thus, drinking, especially when done in excess, is counter-productive to stress management.
While the physiological changes associated with the cortisol hormone are reason enough to put down the bottle, there are other reasons people feel less stressed after becoming sober. Eradicating the ongoing cycle of a drunken haziness into debilitating hangover will allow you to feel more focused and present. Thus, tackling everyday worries and stressors feels more manageable.
Most people who enter into sobriety end up with a much healthier lifestyle than they were living before. Diet is one of the biggest areas of change for people who give up alcohol. As most of us know, drinking and bad food choices almost always go hand in hand. Whether it’s a late-night stop at a fast food joint, or a greasy brunch to quell a hangover, unhealthy food options are what most turn to when alcohol is involved.
Stopping drinking automatically promotes more mindfulness when it comes to what you are putting in your mouth, thus allowing you to make more conscious decisions around food. And because a healthy diet promotes physical health, many find they lose weight as a result of getting sober and eating better. Plus, giving up alcohol, most discover their sense of taste and smell improves significantly, meaning actually experiencing the flavors of the food.
Although alcohol can enhance your libido, it also has the tendency to reduce your ability to act on that enhanced libido. When it comes down to actually engaging in sex, alcohol can create some major problems. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning the initial sexual arousal is typically short-lived. And for men, alcohol abuse can cause erectile dysfunction, sometimes resulting in permanent damage. For women, alcohol is connected with decreased sensitivity and sensation during sex.
Additionally, people tend to engage in riskier sexual behavior when alcohol is involved. You are less likely to use protection, thus increasing your chances of contracting an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. Being sober promotes safer sexual decisions.
Heavy drinkers typically believe that fun and alcohol are mutually exclusive, meaning there isn’t the possibility to have a good time without it. So, it is not hard to understand why people who enter into sobriety often worry they will never have fun again. This is absolutely not true. While getting sober does mean you’ll need to adjust your view of what fun is, it does not mean that fun cannot be had.
In fact, getting sober allows people to discover what they actually do enjoy doing. No longer relying on alcohol as the sole source of fun, those who are sober tend to start exploring new hobbies and interests. Getting really curious about what you find entertaining and pleasurable is helpful in identifying new venues of fun. Plus, being able to be sober and fully engaged in whatever you are doing means you can actually experience (and remember) the fun times, rather than just witness them from an intoxicated fog.
Heavy drinkers often fail to realize the enormous amount of time and energy they actually devote to alcohol, even when they don’t have a drink in hand. Not only are there the obvious time and energy suckers, like hangovers, but also the many moments that alcohol controls one’s thoughts. Alcoholics’ lives become consumed with thinking about the next drink, or planning their activities around alcohol. Essentially, coordinating life to accommodate alcohol is a huge time and energy sucker.
Obviously, the advantages of giving up alcohol and getting sober are numerous. And what is amazing is the positive effects of sobriety are guaranteed. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or thinking about getting sober, contact Orange County Hope at xxx-xxx-xxxx.