Stopping Booze Even Temporarily Has Health Benefits

By Kelly Burch 06/26/19

Researchers found that taking a break from drinking helped reduce risk factors for cancer, diabetes and other health conditions.

person who has decided to stop booze

Today, sobriety is trendy, and more and more people around the country are stepping away from alcohol and giving sober life a try. Anecdotes and research show that giving up booze can boost your happiness, help you lose weight and improve your liver health even if you’re just abstaining temporarily. 

"The findings of these studies are actually very surprising," Aaron White, the senior scientific adviser to the director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told NPR

White pointed to a study published in the British Medical Journal last year. Researchers concluded that taking a break from drinking helped reduce risk factors for cancer, diabetes and other health conditions. 

"They found that at the end of that month — just after one month — people, by and large, lost some weight,” White said. "They had improvements in insulin sensitivity, their blood pressure numbers improved and their livers looked a little healthier." 

Another British study published in 2016 followed participants of “dry January.” Eighty-two percent of participants reported a sense of achievement, 62% reported better sleep and 49% said they had lost weight. 

Stephanie Forte, who was sipping virgin cocktails at a Los Angeles bar recently, was not surprised by those results, since she had seen similar effects herself when she stopped drinking. 

"Oh my gosh. Well, one thing that was noticeable to pretty much everybody was my overall health and, like, my skin, my eyes. ... I lost weight," she said. 

Her friend Kathy Kuzniar lost 30 pounds and felt reinvigorated. 

"I'm creative again," she said. "And I know I wouldn't be doing those things if I was still drinking.”

Forte said that she is seeing more and more people opt to stay sober, even when they are out among people who are using alcohol. 

"Not everybody wants to get wasted when they go to the bar," she said. 

Chris Marshall, who has been sober for 12 years, wanted to give people the chance to have the same community experiences that they would have in bars or clubs, without the alcohol. He opened a sober bar in Austin that has seen great success. 

"All my drinking was really centered around community and wanting that connection so badly with other people,” he said. His establishment, Sans Bar, gives people that opportunity. “What I want to create across the country are these little incubators for social connection.”

With that, people won’t need to explain their sobriety. 

"You know, alcohol is the only drug in which you have to give a reason for why you don't do it,” Marshall said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.