Dry for 5? 8 Proven Benefits of No Alcohol.

This sober sailor is now at the five week mark of sobriety. Wondering about the positive impacts it is having on my body and mind… I found the following information.

Just five weeks with no alcohol has a positive effect on the body!

The following information I found on the New Scientist website. Follow the link below to the full story it is definitely worth a read.

A small study was done on the benefits of alcohol abstinence over a short period of five weeks. The results are interesting, very positive from a reformed drinkers point of view and a little scary for people still partaking in one too many alcoholic beverages.

Some participants of the study continued to drink as per normal. These drinkers considered themselves to be “normal” drinkers. The other participants of the study refrained from alcohol for five weeks. Before the study, and again at the end of the study, blood tests and ultrasounds were taken from each participant. These test measured liver fat, blood sugar level cholesterol etc.

The results were very positive and encouraging! 

The bad was reduce by –

-2% weight
-5% cholesterol
-15% liver fat
-16% glucose

The good was increase by –

+9.5% wakefulness
+10% sleep
+17% work performance
+18% concentration

So these results show that even a short period of abstinence has positive impacts on your body’s health. So just think about the positive, healthy impacts of never drinking again! Mind blowing really. That’s going to help me get through my days. I may eventually be able to go off my blood pressure tablets… now there a thought!

Check out the original article here. It is well worth a read.

A couple of pictures from my holiday in Laos.

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Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos
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Is Alcohol More Harmful Than Heroin?

According to neuropharmacologist David Nutt, MD, of Imperial College London, the answer in YES!

This is jaw-dropping news to me! I thought I’d already kick my two most detrimental habits marijuana and cigarettes! Apparently not!

David Nutt and his colleagues rated 20 different drugs on a scale, which takes into account the various harms caused by a drug. Not just the obvious harms to the user but those harms that each drug has on society. The drugs were rated on nine damages a drug causes an individual and seven damages it causes to society.

Alcohol was found to be the most harmful drug to society!  But was the fourth most harmful drug to users – exceeded by Heroin, crack and meth.

alcohol

Did you know?

  • Alcohol has been linked to more than 60 diseases
  • 2 billion people consume alcohol worldwide
  • 76 million people have alcohol use disorders
  • Alcohol causes 1.8 million deaths every year. That is 3.2% of deaths worldwide
  • Alcohol is the 3rd most common cause of death in developed countries
  • Adults consume 5 litre of pure alcohol per year from drinking beer, wine and spirits
  • The highest consumption is Europe followed by America and Africa
  • The alcohol consumption stats do not include all alcohol consumed. Recorded alcohol consumption stats do not reflect the homemade/brewed alcohol and unrecorded trade.

Something to think about next time I want a drink!

sober and loving it

 

Ref: http://www.greenfacts.org/en/alcohol/

Coping with a Social Situation.

I have another “new” social situation coming up in a couple of days. Dill and I are holidaying in Chiang Mai and an old friend will be arriving in Chiang Mai during our stay (coincidence!) We haven’t seen him for a few years and when we catch up we always drink. So I need to start planning how I will cope with Monday night when we catch up for a drink (non-alcoholic for me)!

So I thought I’d share some tips on coping with social situations… just based on my experience. Living the type of life I do, I have not able been to avoid social situations since I chose to give up drinking. If I wait until I can avoid these situations I’ll still be drinking, still be hating myself, still be embarrassing myself and still be slowly killing myself!

Prepare yourself if you can. I wasn’t always able to prepare myself and those times were decidedly harder than when I was prepared.

1. Be prepared by thinking about what you will drink instead. I now drink a lot of water, green tea, camomile tea and other herbal teas during the day. I also make ice teas and drink an occasional lime & soda. I think it is important to be able to treat yourself to a “special” drink when you are socialising (whether you are out or have guests at your place). My treats are the ice tea, lime & sodas and fruit drinks. When I have guests on the boat (we live on) I will make myself a big jug of ice tea with lime and other fruits… sort of like a fruit punch! When I go out I will have soda & lime or a fruit juice. I try not to drink these other beverages daily because then they would become mundane… I wouldn’t feel like I was treating myself. This way, if I am socialising or I just feel I need a treat or something different, I have some healthy choices I can make.

2. Prepare yourself to say no thank you if you are offered an alcoholic drink. Say a convincing no thank you. Look the person in the eyes, do not hesitate and respond clearly and succinctly. Keep it short and simple – “I’m fine thanks” or “not thank, I’m fine at the moment.”

Ted

3. Prepare your response to questions about not drinking. Whether you are meeting new people or socialising with family, friends or work colleagues, questions of why you are not, or do not, drink will come up. Be prepared… will you say you you have given up alcohol, or will you say you are doing a 30 day challenge or that you are on antibiotics and can’t drink at the moment?  To new people you meet… will you say you don’t drink or you are teetotal or will you say you are allergic to alcohol? And what will you say if they ask you if you have ever been a drinker? People will ask… it is such a novelty meeting people who don’t drink!

facse

4. Prepare yourself mentally. Reiterate to yourself why you have given up. Tell yourself why you don’t want to drink again. Remember your darkest moments and vow not to go back there. Think of the positives you have gained from alcohol abstinence – feeling good, losing weight and getting healthy. Tell yourself you can do it and that you are going to wake up tomorrow with no regrets!

5. Plan an escape if the temptation gets too great. Take into consideration that you may find it too hard, and if temptation is making the whole experience very unpleasant you will need someway to remove yourself from it. Obviously if you have a partner you will need his or her support in this matter. Talk through your plans with him or her, decide on what you will do if the situation arises and ask that he/she supports your decision. If you are going out socially, have some well thought out reasons to leave early e.g.  you have a shocking headache or that you have just receive an urgent phone call and have to get home. If you have people at your home a good way to approach the need to escape is to tell your partner that you have to distance yourself from the current situation and to pass a message on to your guests that you have a migraine and you are laying down. Then lock yourself in your room and reflect on number 4.

time to leave

If you have used other preparation methods for coping with social situations I’d love to hear them. Please drop me a line in comments or on my contact page.

AWS – Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

There is a lot of information about AWS online. I am not going to regurgitate all the information I found, but if you want to know more visit the links at the bottom of the page. Needless to say, there are varying levels of withdrawal which, I assume, have something to do with how often you drink and the amounts of alcohol you consume.  It appears the worst of these symptoms is delirium tremens…. the DT’s. We’ve all joked about having the DT’s right?  But really it is no joking matter. In fact it sounds downright terrifying.

The DT’s include hallucinations, fever and seizures and can be fatal. I thankfully did not suffer from this form of withdrawal. My withdrawal has been, surprisingly, quite minor.

Standard withdrawal symptoms include – anxiety, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, jumpy, nervous, sweating, headaches, heart palpitations and depression. Now the good news – most symptom will significantly decrease after 5 – 7 days! Yay!

The effects I felt in my first two weeks of being dry –

  • Insomnia 

I have always gone to bed early for various reasons, including my lack of desire to watch TV – I’d rather read a book which is more comfortably done in bed – to the fact I would often be out cold by 7pm due to imbibing in too much alcohol.

Being out cold and sleeping are two entirely different things. Going to bed because I fell asleep – at the dinner table, mid conversation – is not the same as going to bed early enough to get the required eight hours of restful, body repairing, soul invigorating sleep.

Regardless of why I would go to bed early – and I have to say that I could stay up late with the big kids sometimes  – I often didn’t sleep well. I have never had a problem falling asleep… amazing what alcohol can do, but staying asleep is an entire different matter.

Giving it up made my insomnia worse in one way and decidedly better in another. I found when I was off the alcohol that I no longer fell asleep early and I was sitting up until midnight on the computer, and then I would lie awake for hours.

The best thing about ‘giving up insomnia’ and ‘alcoholic insomnia’ is what you do with the hours you are awake. Any alcoholic will know this scenario – fall asleep (or unconscious) wake a few hours later and suffer as you lie there dehydrated, in pain and wondering what went on the night before…. guilt, embarrassment and plans to never drink again!

‘Giving up insomnia’ involves lying in bed peacefully (once you give into it) thinking about how good you feel, how well you are doing and congratulating yourself on the fact you don’t have to apologise for your behaviour the next day.

That said, my insomnia has passed. I am still going to bed a lot later than usual but I am now sleeping well.

  • Constipation 

Changes in bowel movement! Without my daily litre or so of grape juice (aka red wine), a few shots of rum, bourbon or vodka (whatever), and perhaps an alcohol laced fruit smoothy (aka cocktail)…. seriously I have had a “NutriBullet” for a year now and it has not once made a single healthy, slimming, detoxing smoothy, but gee… can it throw together the best cocktails… I find that everything is not moving through me as well as it did. I have heard that things will soon get back to normal. I hope so!

  • Irritability

Lets call it irritability, but I’ll tell you now, that is too nice a word for how I have felt! I have wanted to kill. I have looked poor dear Dill (hubby) in the face and wanted to smash it! I have even told him… “I so want to knock your teeth out.” Thankfully he can usually make me laugh, at other times however, he has spent a few hours in a foul mood as a direct result of my inability to cope with the irritability and emotional instability of giving alcohol the flick. This too has mostly passed. Now I just have to learn a new way to cope when things piss me off or I feel moody – I use to use alcohol for those types of issues… just a little pep me up!

  • Cravings 

That’s the one we all want to know about – when will the cravings stop. I have been told they never will. I very nearly thought bugger that, what’s the use of trying to give up! But I have found (after just two weeks) that my cravings have greatly reduced. In fact I craved alcohol a hell of a lot more when I was drinking. Always thinking about when I could have a drink…. it’s 12pm somewhere in the world, right? Or thinking about how I was going to only have two drinks today, or thinking about how I promise myself I’d stick to two but got smash-faced… guilt, failure… alcohol, always on my mind!

  • Anxiety and Nervousness

I have alway suffered a little from anxiety and my symptoms would be magnified astronomically when I suffered PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). For the last 5 or 6 year I have been on mild fluoxetine which is used to treat depressant, OCD and PMDD. I find that it helps a lot with my anxiety also. Dill still calls me OCD tho!

I have notice that my anxiety levels did increase when I gave up drinking and I became quite jumpy…. and it doesn’t help when hubby likes to grab parts of your anatomy at will, or slap you on the bum when you are bent down digging something out of the bottom cupboard! After two week I feel my emotions are returning to a more even keel. I think our marriage might even survive!

At the two week mark, I am beginning to notice the benefits of giving up alcohol… I’ll jot some of those down soon. Be strong peeps… it’s worth it!

 

Links to more on AWS

American Addiction Center

Delirium Tremens

Alcohol Withdrawal

Healthline – Alcohol Withdrawal Symptons

A funny look at the 5 things they don’t tell about giving up alcohol!

 

What are the effects of alcohol abuse?

Today I have spent some time researching alcohol abuse and the effects it has on a body! Not just anybody… your body. My body. The only one we have in this lifetime.

This little project was just to give me something to do rather than think about drinking… instead I could think about all the reasons not to drink.

The physical symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

Cardiovascular disease
Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat
Digestive problems including – dyspepsia, recurrent diarrhoea, abdominal pain
Gastrointestinal bleeding
Increased risk of stroke
Increased risk of many types of cancer include mouth, throat, liver and breast.
Increased risk of neuropathy – nerve damage
Ataxia – lose of balance
Increased blood pressure
Reduces the working ability of your kidneys
Pancreatitis
Liver disease – including cirrhosis, fibrosis, fatty liver and more
Alcoholic hepatitis
Bloating
Red flushed skin – Rosacea, Seborrheic Dermatitis
Weight gain
Accelerates brain shrinkage
Increases bad cholesterol
Hypoglycemia & Hyperglycemia
Weakens your immune system
Anaemia
Erectile dysfunction
Lowers libido
Finger Clubbing
Rhinophyma – drinkers nose. An increase in the size of the lower part of the nose.

A lot of people, including myself, think of alcohol as a pick-me-up. I use to use alcohol to pep me up if I was feeling down, to help me deal with severe PMS, to get rid of my nervousness, relieve my anxiety and as a pain reliever. Alcohol is in fact a depressant! So it might feel as though it is helping you when you have a drink but it is in fact doing the opposite.

The psychological symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

Depression
Anxiety
Irritability
Suicidal ideation
Dementia and other neural degeneration
Low motivation
Anti-social behaviour
Insomnia

“People who drink heavily tend to keep increasing the amount they drink because they develop a tolerance to alcohol” – so true, I use to be able to have a half a shot of bourbon in a coke now I need 2 or 3 shots to feel I’m having a drink. NOT ANYMORE!

What next? Take a look at AWS – Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and Coping in a Social Situation

Is alcohol more harmful than heroin?

After five weeks with NO alcohol! What are the benefits!?

Some of the interesting webpages I read – 

Beyond Hangovers
HealthLine – effects of alcohol on the body
Alcohol and your Kidneys
Chronic Alcoholism
Alcohol and Mental Health

Day 7 – what to drink instead!

I’m feeling very positive at the moment it is nearly 20:00 and I know I am going to get through this day alcohol free! What a great feeling. Just brewing a pot of camomile tea.

tea

One thing I have discovered is if I get thirsty I automatically think of booze. So I keep drinking healthy alternatives that quench my thirst. I am living in the tropics – on a boat – so I can’t escape the heat but I still drink green tea by the pot-load in the mornings, I make rosehip ice tea with lime and berries in the afternoon and I will sometimes have a soda water and lime. In the evening I drink camomile tea. I also drink a lot of water.

Soda water and lime
Soda water and lime

 

I have never really had a sweet tooth. The majority of sugar in my diet came from alcohol, I like my drinks tangy hence the lime.

Today I felt depressed, irritable and lethargic. I was craving carbs! I had a bowl of penne puttanesca and I feel so much better. I might use the ol’ faithful google tomorrow to do some research on what sort of things (natural -naturally) that I can eat/drink that will help reduce cravings. There has to be something. I was putting heaps of wine, whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila etc into my body… so what is it missing now… is it just sugar? 

Does anyone know the answer?

Thanks for listening to me. It’s funny but I don’t feel so alone. And I really don’t want to let you guys (my few readers) down, just like I don’t want to let myself down. Goodnight.