The life-changing health benefits when you stop drinking alcohol

The reasons why you should consider going dry this July...and beyond.
Collage of ingredients in an alcohol free cocktail

When July rolls around each year, lots of Australians sign up to Dry July to raise funds for cancer charities by not drinking alcohol for the entire month. Given alcohol is a common part of social gatherings, for many people it can become a crutch that impacts overall health. Quitting alcohol for an extended period of time, or for good, can lead to a multitude of health benefits, both physically and mentally, that significantly enhance quality of life. From improved physical health to enhanced mental clarity, we run through what happens when you stop drinking alcohol.

Improved Physical Health

Liver Recovery

One of the most significant organs affected by alcohol is the liver. Alcohol is metabolised in the liver, and excessive drinking can lead to fatty liver disease, hepatitis, or even cirrhosis. When you quit alcohol, the liver begins to repair itself. Studies show that within weeks of abstaining, fat accumulation in the liver decreases, and liver function improves. Over time, this can significantly reduce the risk of liver disease.

Heart Health

Alcohol consumption is linked to high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathy. Quitting alcohol can reduce these risks. Within just a few weeks, blood pressure can decrease, and heart rate normalises. Long-term abstinence lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, contributing to a healthier cardiovascular system.

Weight Loss

Alcoholic drinks are calorie-dense and often contribute to weight gain. When you quit drinking, you eliminate these empty calories. Many people find they lose weight without changing any other aspect of their diet or exercise routine. Additionally, quitting alcohol can improve metabolism and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, aiding further in weight management.

Better Sleep

Although alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it disrupts sleep cycles and decreases sleep quality. It can prevent deep REM sleep, leaving you feeling tired and unrested. After quitting, many people experience more restful and uninterrupted sleep, leading to improved energy levels and overall well-being.

Happy senior woman and man embracing and walking outdoors on sandy beach in autumn.

    Mental Health Benefits

    Reduced Anxiety and Depression

    Alcohol can exacerbate anxiety and depression. Initially, it may seem to relieve stress, but over time it can worsen mental health issues. Quitting alcohol can lead to a more stable mood, reduced anxiety, and lower rates of depression. Many people report feeling more clear-headed and emotionally balanced after quitting.

    Improved Cognitive Function

    Long-term alcohol use can impair brain function, affecting memory, concentration, and decision-making. Quitting alcohol allows the brain to heal, improving cognitive functions over time. Enhanced focus and sharper memory are common benefits, contributing to better performance in daily tasks and work.

    Multiracial women doing yoga exercise with social distance for coronavirus outbreak at park outdoor – Healthy lifestyle and sport concept

      Boosted Immune System

      Alcohol weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections. Quitting alcohol enhances immune function, leading to a reduced risk of illnesses. A stronger immune system means fewer colds and quicker recovery times from illnesses, contributing to overall vitality.

      Improved Skin Health

      Alcohol dehydrates the skin and accelerates aging, causing issues like dryness, wrinkles, and redness. Quitting alcohol improves skin hydration and elasticity, leading to a healthier, more radiant complexion. Many people notice a reduction in acne and other skin conditions, as well as a more youthful appearance.

      Senior couple using laptop while planning their home budget, Happy senior couple going through home finances and using computer at home.

      Increased Energy & Productivity

      Alcohol can drain energy, leading to fatigue and reduced productivity. Without alcohol, energy levels often soar. People find they can concentrate better and have the motivation to engage in physical activities or hobbies. This newfound energy can lead to a more active lifestyle, enhancing overall health.

      Long-Term Disease Prevention

      Quitting alcohol reduces the risk of various long-term diseases, including:

      • Cancer: Alcohol is a known carcinogen linked to several types of cancer, including breast, liver, and esophageal cancer. Abstaining significantly lowers cancer risks.
      • Diabetes: Alcohol can affect insulin sensitivity and contribute to weight gain, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Quitting can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes.
      • Digestive Health: Alcohol can damage the digestive system, leading to issues like gastritis and ulcers. Quitting allows the digestive tract to heal, improving nutrient absorption and gut health.

      Improved Mental Clarity & Self-Esteem

      Without the fog of alcohol, many people experience improved mental clarity. They gain a better understanding of themselves and their emotions. This self-awareness can boost self-esteem and lead to healthier coping mechanisms for stress and challenges.

      Please remember to drink responsibly. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Alcohol and Other Drug hotline 1800 250 015 or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

      Interested in finding out more about Dry July? Head to their website

      Related stories