At the early phase of recovery, it may be difficult to imagine yourself being completely free from alcohol addiction and enjoying life.
However, the benefits of sobriety are manifested in several ways, including: mental(1) and physical health(2), markedly improved relationships with friends and family(3), as well as in your finances and career(4, 5).
Even if you are not experiencing these negative outcomes, heavy drinking can be detrimental both short and long-term. Getting sober may help to reverse or even eliminate the negative impact that alcohol may have on your mental and physical health, personal relationships, as well as your career or financial situation.
The Benefits of Being Sober
True Life Recovery, a Detox Center based-out of Orange County helps to outline the benefits of being sober.
Heavy alcohol use has been linked with a vast amount of negative outcomes, including(6):
- Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver
- Alcohol induced acute/chronic pancreatitis
- Alcoholic myophathy and cardiomyophathy
- Increased rates of certain cancers like breast, stomach, oral, and colon
- Degeneration of the nervous system (decreased ability to fight infection)
Chronic alcohol use has also been attributed to erectile dysfunction as well as other sexual dysfunctions(7). Sexual dysfunction was significantly associated with duration and severity of alcohol dependence as well as the amount of alcohol consumed per day.
Upon stopping the intake of alcohol, these physical consequences may subside. However, when a heavy drinker stops they may experience(8):
- Weight loss
- Improved pancreatic function
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Lower blood pressure
Heavy alcohol consumption has been associated with negative impacts on mental health. This is primarily due to blocking chemical signals between brain cells (neurons)(9). For instance, alcohol consumption results in slurred speech, slowed reflexes, poor memory, and impulsive behavior.
Due to heavy alcohol consumption the brain can adapt to these blocked pathways. When alcohol leaves the system it will continue to over-activate neurotransmitters that can result in damage to brain cells(10, 11, 12).
Alcohol use can also negatively impact sleep patterns. Similar to other sleep medications, the sedative or sleep inducing effects of alcohol are quickly adapted to which only leads to further sleep related problems.
Wile it can be hard to say whether alcohol plays a significant role in mental health issues such as anxiety, psychosis, or depression. Through the transitive property, we know that if these issues subside when the person stops drinking, it's logical to assume alcohol aggravates those conditions.
Relationships with Family and Friends
Alcoholism typically has a negative impact on personal relationships with friends and family.
Studies show that partner violence is associated with heavy alcohol consumption (however other factors are also involved)(13). Abstaining from alcohol has the opposite effect and may result in less conflicts and domestic violence.
Alcohol can also affect a person's attachment to others (partner, spouse, children, friends, and family). People who have attachment issues typically are less trusting, show signs of fear, and will isolate and detach themselves.
Career and Financial Situation
Most people who drink alcohol do not think about the impact of alcohol on their financial well-being. People who abuse alcohol are more likely to miss work and have conflict amongst co-workers and management.
Going to and from work may end up resulting in a DUI only adding more financial burden (bail, court fines, attorney, public transportation cost, etc).
Apart from the purported "holistic" benefits of being sober, there are fact-based reasons for why sobriety is beneficial. Including for your mental and physical health, personal relationships, and for your career/financial situation.