Some of the fundamental problems with quitting or resisting the use of alcohol come from a skewed perception of its usage. With alcohol being promoted as widely normative, it’s easy to forget that many people don’t actually do it. More importantly, it’s easy to be ignorant to the reasons why many people don’t actually do it.
The most recent data from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention shows that there are about as many non-drinkers in the United States as there are drinkers (48.5% to 51.5%, respectively). You wouldn’t assume this to be the case, given how prevalent drinking references there are in popular culture. But if you decide to steer clear of alcohol, you won’t be only one at the party not clutching a cocktail.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons for nixing alcohol from your diet and lifestyle.
This one may appear obvious at first. The drain on your finances caused by drinking isn’t some sneaky side effect working its way undetected through your system. The evidence is right there on the tab.
Have you ever actually sat down and thought about how much you spend on alcohol, and what you could do with that money were you to reallocate it? Say you buy just three drinks a night, three nights a week. That’s nine drinks at around $5 a drink (a conservative estimate). That means you’re spending $45 dollars every weekend and $180 a month on alcohol.
More expensive than a lot of your bills, no? Drop booze from your life and buy yourself a couple pairs of new shoes—every month.
There are a litany of potential health hazards related to alcohol abuse ranging from physiological traumas like nerve damage and cardiovascular disease, to psychological disorders such as dementia and depression. Then, of course, there’s the very real hazard of drunk driving and the 10,228 people killed in 2010 in the U.S. alone in drunk driving accidents.
The most nefarious health side effects, though, are liver disease and liver failure. In the same year (2010), there were 25,692 deaths from alcohol-related illnesses, 15,990 of which stemmed from liver disease.
3. Lose Weight
Aside from the more serious physical consequences of extensive alcohol consumption, there are the immediate weight-related effects. The average 12-ounce beer has about 150 calories, the average shot about 100, and cocktails can run into the hundreds of calories. Not only that, alcohol is detrimental to other efforts to keep off weight and stay fit. Research shows that alcohol can inhibit muscle development and cancel out a lot of hard work put in at the gym.
4. Sleep Better
You may associate drinking with stumbling up the stairs to your house, collapsing into bed, and passing out. And while alcohol does act as a sedative for casual drinkers in the beginning stages of the night, studies show that for heavy drinkers it actually contributes to sleeping disorders. This is because after an initial sedated period, alcohol disrupts the crucial deeper stages of sleep and keeps sleep from being as restorative as it should be. Waking up tired after excessive drinking is clear evidence of this effect.
These are all good reason for letting go of alcohol, but quitting is definitely easier said than done. If you’re looking for help, you may want to talk with a doctor, a friend, or seek guidance from those who have been there before when developing a personal recovery plan. Remember that there are far more people living soberly than you might think.
With all of these facts in front of you, it might be time reconsider alcohol’s real impact on your life, and whether it’s giving you the health and happiness you need.