Sober curious benefits go far beyond wondering what you’d feel like not hung over on a workday morning, or not so very reactive when you’re drinking and arguing about politics, relationships, sports, or anything at all. Alcohol brings out the worst in many of us, but you probably already know that.
What is sober curious anyway
Sober curious has been a growing movement in the last year or so. People who have been drinking and partying for years have begun to feel the impact and wonder what life is like with out it. They experiment for short periods of time, and often reduce or quit drinking altogether when their experiment ends. Dry January in which people stop drinking after the holiday season is an example of sober curious.
Has Covid 19 impacted drinking
Before Carona virus, bars and restaurants were developing menus and drinks, and even sober curious environments, where people who don’t want to drink can feel comfortable and special.
But now that people are working from home, not going to bars, and partying together far less, it’s hard to know the impact that the corona virus will have on the sober curious momentum. While bars and pubs are off limits, drinking at home has been on the rise as well as domestic violence, which always goes along with drinking.
So what are the sober curious benefits to your body and brain
There are, in fact, very real differences that occur in your body and behavior when you stop drinking. I can personally attest to many of them.
Weight loss: I lost eight pounds when I stopped drinking. Better sleep habits: Alcohol is a toxin that puts you to sleep, but it disrupts your sleep cycle by waking you up later. After I stopping drinking, sleeping became a pleasure. Rather than snoring on the sofa at 10pm and then being tormented by insomnia after 2AM, I could sleep more regularly and peacefully throughout the night. Safe driving: I never had to worry about driving home after a martini or two. Fewer mood swings: Let’s face it, alcohol revs you up. Some people become mean. Others just combative. And you know people who are always the life or the party. Without alcohol, I personally was less likely to erupt when people annoyed me. I wasn’t waiting for my drink every evening. Water and lemonade became my drinks of choice. Here are some benefits you already know.
Alcohol and your liver
Everybody knows that alcohol is bad for your liver. You can get liver disease from drinking, plain and simple. Excessive, long-term drinking can harm the organ, which transforms glucose into fat before distributing it around the body. If someone drinks more alcohol than their liver can handle, fat can collect in the liver and it can become inflamed and permanently scarred. Cutting out alcohol reduces your chance of getting liver disease.
Alcohol and your brain
Alcohol is a toxin that damages the brain in a variety of ways. How about memory loss? People who consistently drink large quantities of alcohol can develop a deficiency in thiamine, or vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 supports the growth of tissues in the body, including brain tissue, which means a deficiency can contribute to memory problems. No surprise there.
However, research has found that not all alcohol-related brain damage is permanent. Human brains can grow new neurons into adulthood, and, according to a study conducted at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, abstaining from chronic alcohol consumption can also foster the growth of new brain cells.
Alcohol and your digestion
Alcohol can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, causing illnesses such as thyroid disease and immunity issues. People who drink get sick easier.
When we have more than three drinks within a two-hour period, we are compromising our gut health. While a glass of wine or beer with dinner may be OK, we start to see more damage when people binge drink and, of course, when there’s full alcoholism. By removing alcohol from your diet, you can reduce the likelihood of developing acid reflux and gastritis, or stomach inflammation.
Alcohol and your skin
Alcohol, a diuretic, dehydrates the body. Other dermatologic ramifications range from inflammation and an increased risk of rosacea to nutrient deficiencies that can affect the skin.
But if you stop drinking, you won’t see results overnight. After a day, you’ll likely still experience the effects of dehydration, including blotchy skin. According to Sonya Dakar, a celebrity aesthetician and the founder of the Sonya Dakar Skin Clinic, it could take a week for your skin to look dewy and healthy again.
Because staying alcohol-free for extended periods of time will increase the health of your liver, your liver will be able to better help your skin.
“Over one year of not drinking alcohol, your liver will be healthier and better at detoxifying your body,” says Tess Mauricio, a board-certified dermatologist. “The healthier you are, the more beautiful your skin looks, so our skin will be more healthy and glowing.”
Alcohol and food choices
Drinking alcohol lowers our inhibitions, allowing us to make less informed food choices. It’s common to fill up on liquid calories and carbs after a night out because alcohol doesn’t keep us full.
“When we drink, it tends to make us lose our motivation or remember our why for our healthy choices,” Whitney Stuart, a registered dietitian. “When we’re not making those decisions, we have a clear mind, and we clearly know when we’re hungry and can clearly hear our body’s hunger signals without drinking.”
People who give up alcohol briefly tend to drink less in the long term
And here’s the kicker. A BBC study of drinking pauses revealed that heavy drinkers who give up alcohol for a month are more likely to reduce their drinking when the month was up. However, lighter drinkers who participated in the study returned to their previous drinking patterns.
I gave up drinking for three months nearly 12 years ago to support loved ones in recovery and never went go back. If you’re sober curious you can get sober and feel the benefits too. If you’re coping with someone else’s alcohol addiction, check out al-anon for support.