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Alcohol was an exhilarating part of my life for several years—as it is for a lot of people. Gin and tonic were my go-tos, and it was my way to relax at the end of a long, stressful day. It also gave me a way to socialize with others, have fun on the weekends, and let loose a little bit.
When I was 27, I had started to gain a lot of weight, and had been reading a lot about alcohol and weight gain. In addition, I had always been an anxious person, but my anxiety was getting worse, so I made the decision to go 30 days without a drink, and see how my health improved.
My skin cleared up.
Before I stopped drinking, I had no idea that alcohol could lead to acne and blemishes. I started getting acne as a young teenager, so it just seemed like a normal part of life. Alcohol not only dehydrates the skin, causing premature aging and discoloration, but it actually dilates the skin’s pores, which leads to blackheads and whiteheads. I learned to hide it with layers of foundation and concealer. Within a week, my skin had almost completely cleared up. The acne was barely noticeable, and my skin was more even-toned. I felt a lot more confident, and stopped layering on so much makeup, allowing my skin to breathe. I even stopped using such harsh cleansing products and chemicals on my pimples—I didn’t need any of it anymore!
I lost weight.
The American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who drink heavily have a higher risk of excessive weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. Alcohol is full of calories, and oftentimes, the things I was mixing alcohol with were full of sugar. Within four days of quitting alcohol, I was less bloated, and had more energy, which inspired me to start going to the gym. I was both shocked and thrilled at how quickly I was able to start shedding the pounds—after all, this is the primary reason why I wanted to quit drinking in the first place.
I slept through the night.
I had no idea that my drinking directly influenced my quality of sleep. I knew that if I drank, I would get drowsy and fall asleep faster, but I didn’t realize that it was causing me to miss out on the quality sleep I needed. I just thought that I was a light sleeper, and that I had gotten used to waking up multiple times throughout the night, finding myself exhausted the next day. However, it is proven that alcohol and a good night’s sleep don’t mix. Although alcohol can make people fall asleep faster, it is often offset by disrupted sleep during the second half of the night. Since alcohol can trick people into believing that it is a sleep aid, alcohol dependence, or alcohol use disorder can easily develop. It is estimated that 17 million people in the United States are living with an alcohol-use disorder, and many of these individuals may be under the impression that alcohol induces sleep, when it really disrupts it.
My anxiety got better.
I have always struggled with anxiety, but when I would drink, it would always go away. If I drank too much, I would blackout and wake up with anxiety regarding what I had done during the blackout. If I got anxiety in the morning, it was too early to drink, and I didn’t know how to cope with it, which only made things worse. For me. I found it true that, while alcohol can decrease anxiety in the beginning, hard-drinking may make it worse. In addition, approximately 20% of people who struggle with anxiety, develop alcohol dependence. When I stopped drinking, I was getting better sleep and working out, which helped diminish my anxiety to the point where I didn’t even want a drink anymore. I finally felt as though I had gotten my anxiety under control.
I learned to have fun without a drink.
With more energy, less anxiety, and a healthier lifestyle, life became all-around more enjoyable. My acne cleared up and I lost weight, so I felt more comfortable in my own skin. I found that I could go out with my friends and have a good time without putting alcohol in my body. I felt so good that I decided to make not drinking into a lifestyle choice—everything simply seems better without a foggy mind, and a next-morning hangover.