The topic of immunity has been popping everywhere in the last year during the pandemic, including in the field of substance use treatment. How alcohol use affects the body’s ability to protect itself from disease and infection has always been an important conversation, though. Today, we’ll talk about how sobriety relates to immunity and discuss other health benefits of starting and sustaining an alcohol-free life.
The health benefits of sober living are numerous. They include weight management improvement, healthier skin, healthier heart, and the ability for the liver to repair itself. The body can respond quickly to sobriety and start showing some results quickly. A longer recovery creates more significant results, such as a potential reduced risk of developing cancers. Sober living can also improve a person’s mental health, although a diagnosable mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, should be addressed by a professional.
What health benefits can you expect in recovery?
Sober living brings with it numerous benefits to improve your health. Some benefits tend to show up more quickly than others. Mood and weight management are among them. Skin health and blood pressure may also improve during the early stages of recovery.
Staying sober longer can add even more health benefits. A healthier heart is one of them, with a reduced chance of heart failure. The liver’s ability to heal itself gets restored when you stay sober. It can filter toxins in the body better, too. Better weight control can come from both stopping drinking and the change in eating habits connected to alcohol use. Those late-night fast food or 24-hour diner visits after a night out may disappear, for example. As heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing cancer, sobriety may reduce those risks over time.
What happens to your body when you quit drinking?
Your body has the potential to respond quickly to your sober choices. You may notice an improvement in sleep patterns and decision-making. Your physical performance may increase as you remain better hydrated and feel more energetic.
As your period of sobriety continues, the list of your body’s positive responses grows. You may notice an issue with acid reflux decreases or disappears. Kidney health can improve as well and a lower blood pressure means reducing the risk of stroke or heart problems.
Does being sober improve mental health?
There’s often a strong connection between substance use and mental health in people. Both disorders affect the other, and it’s not often clear which one appeared first. They may have overlapping symptoms so someone in treatment may not be aware of a mental health issue until it’s diagnosed.
Staying in recovery can help mental health overall by helping you create a positive, productive lifestyle. You may begin to repair relationships and create stability in your home and work life. Those aspects can make you feel better and help you function daily. At the same time, a mental health disorder doesn’t go away with sobriety alone. If you have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or other mental health concern, you should address it with the help of a professional. Leaving it unresolved can create a risk in relapsing while you’re still working hard on your recovery.
Does sobriety help immunity?
Heavy drinking affects the body’s ability to fight off infection. When it interferes with this function, a person may experience sickness more frequently and lose time at school or work. Even worse, it can increase the chance of developing chronic diseases.
Abstaining from alcohol use improves the functioning of the immune system. Over time, sobriety restores a person’s ability to rebound from infection or illness. Some of sober living’s impact on immunity comes from an increase in self-care in other areas: better sleep, better hydration, and increased physical activity, for example.
Can you lose weight with sobriety?
We mentioned weight loss above as a health benefit of sober living. Eliminating regular alcohol use reduces calorie intake, of course. In four week’s time, a former wine drinker may save themselves more than 3800 calories contained in 24 glasses of their favorite drink. A former beer drinker may cut out 4300 calories from 24 pints.
It’s important to mention that managing your weight is still something you will need to work on actively. Adding a regular exercise regimen can help you get fit and increase your stamina. You may even consider teaming up with someone who’s also in recovery to share workout time and remain accountable to each other.