• Alcohol addiction
  • Alcohol addiction

Quit alcohol and reclaim your health

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In 2022, nearly 8 in 10 adults reported drinking alcohol in the past year. The pursuit of better health is a process of careful consideration and informed decisions. Whether you have concrete intentions to stop drinking or are still unsure about the impact of alcohol on your health, this guide provides valuable insights and expert guidance to support you on the road to good health.

How many people struggle with alcohol?

Interestingly, as many as 36 percent of people who said they drink 14 glasses of alcohol per week reported wanting to drink less. This means 63 percent of those surveyed do not want to reduce drinking because they don’t believe their relationship with alcohol is problematic. What is also striking is that more than a third of the men stated they are happy with their current alcohol consumption, despite the fact that they drink more excessively and heavily than women.

Why drink? The reasons for drinking alcohol vary between men and women. Men typically drink alcohol for personal satisfaction (enjoyment), to lower inhibitions in social situations, or to get tipsy or drunk. Young people most frequently cite social reasons for drinking, while all age groups claim the most important reason for drinking alcohol is because they genuinely like the taste of it.

Why drinking alcohol can harm your health

Alcohol and its breakdown products have significant effects on the body. After its consumption, alcohol is distributed throughout the body in the blood stream and crosses biological membranes which affect virtually all organs in the body. Areas with increased risk include the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, brain, heart, liver and intestines.

Depending on the severity of alcohol use, much of the damage caused by alcohol is reversible: the body heals itself when you stop drinking. The crucial insight here is that the more you drink, the more damage it causes to your body. Even one glass of alcohol can be harmful, as evidenced by the increased risk of breast cancer in women who drink one glass a day. Raising awareness about these health risks is therefore essential.

How does alcohol affect your body?

Alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for many health problems. Below you will find a clear overview of risks for certain diseases in people who drink compared to people who don’t, based on daily alcohol intake.

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These health risks show the seriousness of alcohol consumption and are a powerful motivation to quit drinking. Glass of wine represents alcoholic beverage.

Discover the benefits of quitting alcohol

Not drinking has many health benefits. The effects will become apparent after only a few days and continue over time as the body recovers from the influence of alcohol. Here are some benefits you can expect after quitting: 

  • Improved sleep 
  • Increased vitality and alertness 
  • Improved immune system 
  • Radiant skin 
  • Weight loss 
  • Enhanced sexual health 
  • Improved emotional well-being 
  • Improvements in sports performance 
  • Reduced chance of serious illnesses 
  • Increased fertility 

In short, you will not only notice positive changes in your physical condition, but also in your overall well-being when you give up alcohol.

What happens to your body when you quit drinking?

After your last drink, your body will immediately start breaking down alcohol, which can cause some discomfort in the first few hours. During this time, alcohol acts on neurotransmitters in your brain, such as GABA and glutamate, which can cause withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating and nausea. Below we have listed what physical symptoms you can expect after quitting.

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How to take the first step towards an alcohol-free life

After reading the above, you may be concerned about the impact of alcohol on your life. Do you need support in going alcohol free? Here's a step-by-step plan to help you give up drinking: 

  1. Consider the pros and cons: Write down the disadvantages of drinking alcohol and list the advantages of cutting back or quitting. Think of benefits like having more energy and saving money, versus disadvantages like hangovers and low self-esteem.
  2. Make a decision: Decide if you want to cut back or stop completely. Set a start date and decide how long you want to keep it up.
  3. Set goals and keep track of them: Set a clear goal and keep track of your consumption pattern. Choose how many glasses you can drink per day or per week, and monitor whether you have reached your goals.
  4. Prepare for withdrawal symptoms: Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms. They may last anywhere from three to seven days. Distinguish between mild symptoms, such as poor sleep and agitation, and serious symptoms such as seizures or delirium.
  5. Keep a journal: Make agreements with yourself and write them down. For example, about avoiding social situations or informing a friend when you're struggling.
  6. Prepare how to deal with cravings and tempting situations: Think about how to manage alcohol cravings and identify tempting situations. Think of ways to distract yourself, for example, by taking a shower or going for run. Also, make a plan for high-risk situations for relapse. 

These steps give you the tools you need to take on the challenge and work towards an alcohol-free lifestyle. 

Tips for going alcohol free

Have a positive mindset Stay positive, even if you’re struggling. Remind yourself that you don't need alcohol to feel good. Be proud of your commitments to your goals. Give yourself compliments and celebrate your milestones.

Be prepared for tempting situations Anticipate challenging situations and plan ahead to avoid triggers. Inform your friends and family about your decision to abstain from alcohol so that they don’t offer you drinks. Surround yourself by people who respect and support your decision to quit drinking.

Relapsed? Don't see it as a failure if you ever slip up. Put the drink away, take a break and distract yourself. Learn from the situation and make a plan for what to do next time.

Learn to deal with a relapse A relapse does not mean all progress is lost. Find out what caused you to relapse. Write down the reason and discuss it with someone you trust. Don't let disappointment defeat you. Instead, learn from it and stay motivated.

Distract yourself when faced with cravings Avoid situations that remind you of drinking and be ready when someone offers you a drink (practise saying 'no'). Think of activities to get you through difficult moments, such as relaxed breathing, walking, reading or talking to a friend. Actively seek distractions to alleviate cravings.

Take the first step and reclaim your health! Discover the power of medication in your journey towards an alcohol-free lifestyle.

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