Director of the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) Dr George Koob was reported in the USA Today newspaper as saying that previous research had already revealed people are much more likely to drink more “during times of uncertainty and duress”.
But this always comes with a warning from experts such as Dr Koob. “Any increases in alcohol use during the pandemic could be a cause for concern. This is particularly if the increases stem from an attempt to cope with negative emotions associated with the crisis.”
Whatever the reason or justification, drinking too much and/or too often has definite proven long-term and short-term negative health consequences. This includes not only physical health but emotional and mental wellbeing too.
Here are six major benefits of giving up alcohol.
1. Better sleep
During sleep the body is busy repairing and restoring.
When alcohol is in the system the body is spending more time trying to rid itself of toxins. Stopping drinking gives the body a chance to do its job properly when asleep.
Many people think that alcohol actually makes them sleep better. It can certainly seem that way.
But it is in fact the opposite: a major disturbance to the body’s natural restorative process. This frequently means a feeling of tiredness and being unable to think clearly the day after drinking.
Regular proper sleep means our immune system is stronger. So we’re less likely to catch such as a virus – and if we do we can respond and recover better.
It also means we are less likely to have mishaps and accidents. Life in general will seem more in order – with, for instance, much more likelihood of eating healthy meals at regular times.
Alcohol is high in calories as well. For instance, a large glass of wine is nearly equivalent in calories to a donut.
Our body’s ability to burn fat is hindered by alcohol consumption. So quit drinking and the weight is more likely to fall off.
Additionally, too much alcohol negatively impacts on every organ in the body – including the heart, brain, pancreas and liver. Over time, it increases the risk of many life-threatening illnesses.
Alcohol also has a detrimental effect on the immune system. People who drink too much and too often will be more prone to illnesses and take longer to recover when they get ill.
3. More zest & productivity
Most people who drink too much will waste hours that add up to days and weeks every year. By quitting drinking you’ll be giving yourself more time to be productive and see the people you love as well as doing hobbies you enjoy.
Clarity of thought and better physical coordination will add an overall positive impact. All of this is a boost to emotional wellbeing too.
4. Better bank balance
Most people who quit drinking find they have more money. This is from the obvious fact that their money isn’t being spent on alcohol and any associated costs such as taxis home.
But it’s also from the fact that there will be less sick days and those other days when it’s just a struggle to get through the day. Productivity and decision-making is also improved.
Consequently, you’ll get much more done. That’s clearly a great benefit to your work life and earning potential.
5. More hours every day
Not only will there be less sick days and days of muddling through, there will be no mornings wasted in bed. There is also much more time compared to when there used to be those hours spent drinking.
This is an often overlooked major benefit of quitting drinking. But it’s one of the first things that people realize, even in their first week of not drinking.
6. Improved general wellbeing
Alcohol is a mood-altering substance. When people stop drinking they often notice their moods become less erratic, meaning they are calmer and more steady in life.
Many people notice that their emotional health is vastly improved. For example, this means they will be able to have much better healthy boundaries.
So the positive results for someone quitting alcohol can be excellent. This also benefits all the people who are close to them too.
Our expert team here at Tikvah Lake Recovery has many decades of experience in treating people with all types of problems. We carefully listen before offering treatments that are proven to work.
Every treatment we offer is completely personalized, so that it works the best for each of our guests. That is not only to gain the swiftest results – but also to ensure recovery is long-lasting and continues when you leave us.
Get in touch with us right now to speak in confidence. Discover how we can help you or someone you love.
In New York City during the 1930s, a stockbroker called Bill Wilson was admitted to the Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcohol Addictions on four occasions for alcoholism. At the time, the vast majority of medical professionals could not really understand alcohol addiction.
Alcoholics were generally seen as hopeless cases. The doctors looked after these patients as best they could, but a vast number of them were expected to drink until they developed a “wet brain” or they died.
William Duncan Silkworth was a physician who specialized in alcoholism treatment at the hospital that Bill Wilson was in. Dr Silkworth introduced Wilson to the theory that alcohol addiction was a disease.
Certainly today many addiction experts talk of addiction as being a “dis-ease”, a symptom of when someone is not at ease inside themselves, frequently due to trauma. But back then in the 1930s Dr Silkworth’s theory was pioneering.
Dr Silkworth treated more than 40,000 alcoholics in his career and was regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in the field. He believed that alcoholism was the manifestation of a physical allergy combined with an obsession of the mind.
Bill Wilson found hope in Dr Silkworth’s theory that alcoholism was a medical condition – an illness. So much in fact that he was able to quit drinking and went on to become a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
The Doctor’s Opinion
In 1939 when the first book of AA was published, nicknamed “The Big Book”, Wilson had asked that Dr Silkworth write something for the opening pages to explain his theory of alcoholism.
It came in a chapter entitled “The Doctor’s Opinion”. Among other words, Dr Silkworth wrote the following about alcoholics:
“All these, and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.”
It was an important factor in the growth of AA. Today the Twelve Steps recovery program as developed by AA is used to treat all manner of addictions – from drugs, work and food to gambling, sex and nicotine.
Not a bad habit – but a disease
Even before Dr Silkworth there had been some people moving the public’s thinking towards the fact that alcohol addiction was a disease. American physician Benjamin Rush (1745–1813) stated that “habitual drunkenness should be regarded not as a bad habit but as a disease”.
Then in 1849 Swedish physician Magnus Huss is believed to have first used the term “alcoholism” in his book “Alcoholismus Chronicus”. He describes the physical traits of addictive drinkers and said that they had a disease.
Disease theory of addiction
The theory that alcoholism was a disease became more acceptable as an opinion in society. However, it took another 100 years until it was officially stated.
This came in 1956 when the American Medical Association (AMA) stated that alcoholism was an “illness”.
Three decades later in 1987 the AMA issued a statement that read: “The AMA endorses the proposition that drug dependencies, including alcoholism, are diseases and that their treatment is a legitimate part of medical practice.”
Disorder of the brain
Then in 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) published an important report called “Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence”.
It stated: “Dependence has not previously been recognized as a disorder of the brain, in the same way that psychiatric and mental illnesses were not previously viewed as being a result of a disorder of the brain.
“However, with recent advances in neuroscience, it is clear that dependence is as much a disorder of the brain as any other neurological or psychiatric illness.”
More recent research has discovered dopamine pathways that are boosted by not only alcohol and drugs but also by some behavioral addictions including gambling, shopping and sex. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is associated with making us feel happy.
As dopamine is released, it causes feelings of pleasure and reward. This motivates people to repeat the particular behavior that caused it.
Dealing with pain
Some addiction experts think that someone has to have the propensity to get addicted to something, that it is in their physical make-up. It is then that certain conditions can cause them to become addicted to such as drugs or alcohol.
Addiction expert Dr Gabor Maté has found in his experience that addiction is always an “attempt to solve the problem of human pain. Hence my mantra: ‘The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.’
“The source of pain is always and invariably to be found in a person’s lived experience, beginning with childhood. Childhood trauma is the template for addiction – any addiction.
“All addictions are attempts to escape the deep pain of the hurt child. These are attempts that are temporarily soothing but ultimately futile.”
Research and debate is still developing about the illness of addiction. But one aspect is very clear – if left untreated, as with most chronic illnesses, it will get progressively worse.
The passage of time won’t stop it. But treatment will.
Everywhere you look, no matter where you live, you will see fun tied to alcohol. Whether it’s a celebration or an average Saturday night, alcohol is ever-present. For those in recovery, this may pose a problem, especially when it comes to having fun without alcohol.
The relationship between Cognitive Dissonance and Addiction is an emerging topic of fascination, particularly for addiction specialists who perhaps are seeking new ways to treat clients (it’s also helpful for those in addiction recovery).
What is Cognitive Dissonance?
Cognitive Dissonance happens when an individual holds a series of contradictory beliefs, values and ideas – and is overcome by psychological stress when they partake in any action that goes against one or more of those beliefs.
As humans, we tend to strive for whatever makes us feel comfortable. Therefore, we are driven (consciously or not) by consistency.
Cognitive Dissonance theoryholds the principle that when two ideas or actions clash (i.e. they are inconsistent with each other) people will do everything in their will to change these ideas until they become compatible.
Broadly, cognition is a strand of knowledge; these include:
Let’s say, for example, a person discovers new information that challenges a deep-rooted belief.
They may even behave in a way that is incongruous to their perception of self, in this case, the individual (to restore Cognitive Dissonance) will often become motivated to change those negative feelings, which ultimately soothes psychological stress.
Cognitive Dissonance in Social Psychology
Cognitive Dissonance theory belongs to the sphere of Social Psychology.
Social psychologists believe Cognitive Dissonance to be amental conflict that occurs when an individual’s beliefs and behaviours are misaligned.
Leon Fester, psychologist and author of the book; A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957),proposed that people experience psychological unease when their beliefs are conflicting or when their actions and behaviours contradict each other.
Once individuals realize just how conflicting their beliefs are, they work hard to relieve the discomfort in an attempt to resolve Dissonance – this is titled “The Principle of Cognitive Consistency”.
According to mental health experts, mental health is the ability to handle uncertainty – and those with a higher threshold for delay tend to experience less distress and Cognitive Dissonance than those with lower scores.
Symptoms of Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance can create a series of unpleasant symptoms, such as:
Frequently, individuals experiencing Cognitive Dissonance may try to conceal their feelings or beliefs by covering them up. All this is done by:
Refusing to absorb new information that goes against their ideas, such as a refusal to watch the news or read an article.
Concealing their beliefs and behaviours from other people.
Excluding themselves from taking part in discussions about specific topics.
Condoning their decisions, actions and behaviours.
When a person ignores information and facts in a bid to retain their beliefs, this often results in stagnation.
For individuals to resolve Cognitive Dissonance, they must be willing to do the work required to shift their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours into alignment with each other.
Seeking professional help for Cognitive Dissonance allows those with mental health conditions such as anger issues, personality disorders and addictions to make positive changes to their lifestyle, allowing them to move forward.
Alcohol Abuse and Cognitive Dissonance
Alcoholics(and other substance abusers) often experience Cognitive Dissonance. Addicts are fully aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse but will find new and creative ways to justify their self-destructive behaviours.
Alcoholics with Cognitive Dissonance will often do what they can to overcome feelings of unease by:
Being in denial about the dangers of alcohol abuse (or minimizing the risks) in an attempt to view their actions as less dangerous
Abstaining from alcohol altogether
Adopting the belief that although excessive alcohol consumption might be hazardous to others, they will be fine as it won’t affect them as much (if at all)
Risks associated with Cognitive Dissonance
In alcohol recovery, Cognitive Dissonance presents many risks and challenges for both the addiction recovery specialist and patient.
Since addicts with Cognitive Dissonance indulge in patterns of delusional thinking, they often go to great lengths to protect their current understanding.
All this might explain why certain concepts and ideas appear rational to some people and entirely irrational for others (such as an addict’s ability to justify their excessive drinking). This type of thinking makes no sense to the addicts family.
This type of increase in delusional thinking often creates many challenges for those in addiction recovery, and those hoping to avoid relapse.
The key is to notice when the pattern of delusional thinking starts to exacerbate and to challenge the feelings and thoughts to prevent relapsefrom occurring.
Examples of Cognitive Dissonance in Alcoholism
There are plenty of examples of how Cognitive Dissonance shows up in alcohol addiction – they include:
The addict believing that life is miserable and dull without alcohol
Giving up a habit means that life is inevitably devoid of any joy or happiness
Developing the belief that medical advice such as awareness campaigns against alcoholism is propaganda and that the media has indoctrinated people
Believing that teetotalers are boring and since they do not abuse substances they must lack character or personality
Adopting the belief that it’s cool to abuse substances and only those with imagination or artistic flair will fully understand the concept of substance misuse
Treating Cognitive Dissonance in Alcohol Abuse Recovery
Fortunately, there is a wide range of treatment options available for addicts with Cognitive Dissonance such as therapy andresidential treatment programs.
One on one therapy is the most effective form of treatment.
However, the addict must start with a clean slate or “beginner’s mind” for the methods in therapy to be effective. All this involves putting aside any previously held beliefs that may have been limiting or self-destructive in any way.
When people in addiction recovery begin therapy with a beginners mindset, this allows them to adapt to new thinking styles and healthier ways of behaving.
In therapy, Cognitively Dissonant individuals will start to notice a shift in previously held beliefs, and begin to acknowledge how they have justified their addictions in the past.
Therapy is delivered in a supportive, encouraging environment where people get the opportunity to share ideas and stories. This collaboration leads to mutual understanding, paving the way for recovery from alcohol (and any other substance) addiction.
If you would like to address any self-limiting thoughts and beliefs that might be holding you back in your recovery or if you would like help with an addiction – the team at Tikvah Lake Recovery are here to help.