“I have never experienced this level of calm.”
Why We Drink Alcohol
There is a multitude of reasons individuals choose to drink alcohol. Covering the, ‘why’ people drink is an article in and of itself. But, in short, we start drinking as a social endeavour that later becomes a way to cope with both external pressures and internal pain. What was once a way to connect, later becomes the tool we use to be with others, largely driven by anxiety and a persistent sense that our mood can’t lift without a little exogenous assistance.
When You Stop Drinking Alcohol
If you have made the commitment to either decrease the amount you are drinking, or stopped drinking altogether, take stock in the magnitude of the decision you have made. It is nothing short of monumental.
The first thing you will notice are the physical changes associated with not consuming alcohol. You will no longer wake up with a hangover. Even better, within about a month, friends and family will comment on your new found, ‘glow’. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, making it dry and appear more wrinkly from the associated decrease in elasticity.
Mental Health Benefits of Sobriety
Over time, you will also notice the mental health benefits after you stop drinking alcohol. Improvements will depend on how long you have been consuming alcohol, how often, and average quantity during each setting. Within about a month, you will start notice the following:
- Decreased Overall Anxiety: As you increase your consumption of alcohol, anxiety fills the periods between drinking events. This is more profound the longer you have been drinking. Within the first month of going alcohol free, you will notice a significant decrease in overall anxiety. However, initially, your sense of anxiety will spike in response to the lack of chemical intervention.
- Decreased Reactivity: Experiencing less anxiety means that you will feel less reactive to every day stressors at home and work. In the past you were primed for frustration due to the physical toll alcohol placed on your body. This decrease in reactivity promotes objective problem solving and better social engagement with family, friends, and colleagues.
- Increased Baseline Mood: Alcohol directly impacts the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems in the brain. As you continue to drink in regular intervals, you continue to seek alcohol as a powerful mood regulator. When you stop drinking alcohol, it is common for your mood to initially become worse. As you continue to abstain, your mood slowly returns to the organic baseline you experienced before you started drinking.
- Increase Hopefulness: The longer you decrease or abstain from drinking, the more hopeful you become. Your future is no longer consumed with events centring around alcohol. You engage your creativity with success. With improved relationships and more time, your future feels bright and hopeful.
- Increased Psychological Independence: You care less about what others think about you and your choices. You care less about the approval of others and can quickly identify judgement. This means that you start making decisions for you and your family with independence and confidence.
It is important to note that there are both physical and mental health benefits seen in individuals decreasing or eliminating alcohol use. While these are closely linked, it is important to differentiate. Problems with mental health associated with alcohol, are seen most prominently in a deteriorated sense of wellbeing and mood, thus requiring significantly more time for noticeable improvement. Moreover, it is likely that such changes will require help from a mental health professional who has a firm understanding in addiction.
Don’t Do It Alone – Alcohol Free Check-In
Are you looking to make a change to your drinking? The Finding My Psych Alcohol Free Check-In is a place to connect with others embarking on the same journey. We offer weekly Zoom session facilitated by a member of our support team.
Registration for our Alcohol Free Check-In is easy! Click, “Book Check-In” below to reserve your seat. Once seats are full for that week, we shut down registration. A Finding My Psych team member will confirm that you have completed any prerequisites and finalize your registration. We will send you a Zoom link before the event.