Improved health is one of the biggest benefits in recovery. However, some may look at the state of their health and all the damage they have done to their body already, and wonder if it’s even worth it. They may wonder if their bodies will ever heal enough to make a significant difference in their overall health, quality of life and longevity. These thought processes can lead, not only to people becoming discouraged from getting sober, but it can also lead to relapse in those that are going through or have completed treatment. Well, the truth is, once you decide to become sober, your body begins healing immediately and you will begin to feel these improvements to your health in ways you’ve never imagined. Here’s what you can expect of your body once you begin on the road to sobriety.
Sober Living Without Alcohol
Even when many are fighting withdrawal symptoms, their bodies are beginning to heal. People who give up alcohol will start to see health benefits in as little as one month after abstaining. To get an idea of the ways in which your body will heal once alcohol is eliminated, take a look at the results of a study that was conducted by a team at New Scientist working with the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School. The study specifically targeted health improvements in those just one month into sobriety. The improvements shown in these participants was so groundbreaking, it even surprised the researchers.
Reduced Risk of Premature Balding
Keeping a full head of hair is often a priority for many men in the United States. Alcohol has been linked to increasing the risk of male pattern baldness, but after attending a rehab program, the increased risk is often far less than if they were still drinking, and in some cases, returns to normal.
Improvements to The Liver
An accumulation of fat in the liver can lead to inflammation which can be a direct precursor to liver damage. Refraining from drinking will cause the liver to slim down reducing the chances of cirrhosis and chronic liver conditions. The study revealed that their participants had a decrease in liver fat that averaged 15% with some participants showing as much as a 20% decrease.
Reduction in Blood Glucose Levels
High levels of glucose in the bloodstream leads to heightened blood sugar which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Participants in the study showed blood glucose levels dropping by an average of 16%. These controlled levels will greatly reduce the risk of the disease.
Lowering of Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels can be very dangerous. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, to name a few. Participants in the study were shown to average reduced rates of 5% after one month of sobriety. While these levels don’t seem like much, they are quite significant when the decrease comes because of abstaining from alcohol.
The study also found other immediate benefits including a 10% improved sleep quality and an 18% increased ability to concentrate. These resulted in overall enhanced psychological functioning.
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Living Sober From Drugs
But alcoholics aren’t the only ones who will reduce health risks after quitting. Drug users are at risk in many ways as well. Heroin and painkillers suppress the action of the lungs which can cause tuberculosis, pneumonia and abscesses. Methamphetamines can be difficult on the entire body, especially the heart and the brain. Cocaine is taxing on the heart and can cause cardiac arrest and heart attacks, even in the first use. Synthetic drugs like Ecstasy can cause your body to overheat leading to an organ breakdown.
Any drug can lead to excessive weight loss affecting our bodies ability to fight disease. They can also lead to fatal overdoses and increased risk of accidents. It’s clear how getting clean from drug use will immediately reduce the chances of disease, lifelong health conditions and even death.
Getting sober, for both drug users and alcoholics, can reduce the risks of cancer. Alcohol allows cancer causing toxins to enter the body and also causes the body to lose the ability to convert and absorb healthy nutrients. It increases the body’s production of free radicals which damage DNA, protein and fats. It causes the body to produce more estrogen increasing the risk of breast cancer.
Illegal drugs are often mixed with chemicals that are potentially cancer causing. These can include benzene which can be found in methamphetamines, phenacetin which has been found in cocaine and safrole which can be present in MDMA.
Making The Most Of Your Years Sober
But getting sober and staying healthy isn’t just about longevity. It’s about quality of life. Many people with addictions have the mindset of, “Why should I bother getting sober and healthy? The damage is already done.” But the reality is, not everyone dies of health complications due to addiction. Many people become ill and have a life full of pain and suffering as a result.
On the other hand, those that do chose to be healthy and sober will immediately reap the benefits of improved health resulting in more efficient mental abilities and higher energy levels. Their healthier states will be apparent in their physical appearance. Their relationships with others will benefit as well. It is one of the best ways to express your love and respect for your own body.
There is a long list of reasons to get sober and stay sober and your health should be right there at the top. Drugs and alcohol are a major risk factor when it comes to many illnesses, diseases and chronic conditions. Any progress that you make towards improving your health by becoming sober and fighting your potential to contract serious illnesses can be jeopardized by relapsing. Relapsing may happen but your health should be a great incentive to become sober and stay that way. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor by reaching out in the hopes to become a happier, healthier you.
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