How Sobriety Changes Your Body
Drug and alcohol abuse can have a serious impact on the body. Years of using these substances can affect your heart, liver, and kidneys, raising your risk for several diseases, not to mention the damage drugs and alcohol can also do to your mental health. The great thing about deciding to quit drugs and alcohol is that it can completely transform your physical and mental health. Once you’re sober, you’ll sleep better, have better mental clarity, regulate blood sugar, balanced blood pressure, and more. If you’re jumping into recovery, you will be amazed at how sobriety changes your body.
Withdrawal Comes First
The initial physical changes after sobriety aren’t always pleasant. Most if not all people who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol for a while experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop or reduce their use of these substances. Withdrawals can be highly unpleasant and sometimes even life-threatening when treatment specialists aren’t involved, which is why medically monitored detox is recommended to people interested in beginning the addiction recovery process.
The more you engage in substance abuse, the more accustomed your body becomes to these drugs. Withdrawal symptoms are your body’s response to a lack or reduction in drugs or alcohol, as well as an indicator of physical dependence. During withdrawal, the body is attempting to achieve balance as it metabolizes the remainder of these substances from itself.
Some common withdrawal symptoms you may experience at the beginning of your recovery include:
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Flu-like symptoms
- Frequent yawning
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Trouble sleeping
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Mood swings
- Short-term memory loss
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Undergoing detox is a crucial aspect of recovery for most people because it addresses difficult withdrawal symptoms and cravings head-on. Our Palm Beach rehab prioritizes drug and alcohol detox for patients to not only keep them safe and healthy during withdrawal but to ease the burden of withdrawals and make the rest of their recovery as smooth as possible.
Effects of Being Sober
So after withdrawal, what happens to your body when you get sober? Once you pass through the withdrawal stage, the weeks and months ahead will reveal the benefits of deciding to get sober.
Perhaps the most significant physical change you’ll experience in sobriety is improved sleep. Certain drugs and alcohol can cause insomnia and other sleep problems during withdrawal, and not getting enough sleep can significantly impact your health.
However, once you’ve gone through detox, you’ll notice that falling and staying asleep won’t be as difficult. A good night’s sleep also keeps you energized, improves mental clarity and brain function, regulates blood sugar levels, and increases your overall mood. Think of yourself as a battery pack that’s being recharged so it can dispel its energy in other things throughout the day; that’s you.
Drug and alcohol abuse can also wreak havoc on the skin. For instance, substances like methamphetamine and alcohol are known for contributing to premature wrinkling, rapid aging, skin disease, and face sores. Oftentimes, people who have used drugs for several months or years become unrecognizable due to the changes in their skin and face. Fortunately, sobriety can also help in this department.
Getting sober helps assist in the recovery of your skin, mostly because you’ve stopped using the thing that’s been damaging it in the first place. If you’re focusing on improving your health after getting sober, you may also drink more water, eat a healthier diet, and even take vitamins, all of which can contribute to healthy skin, as well. Although not all the effects of drugs and alcohol on the skin are reversible, you may develop a new and healthy glow after getting sober.
Drugs and alcohol are addictive because of how they affect your brain. Most addictive substances affect neurotransmitters or chemical messengers like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, each of which plays a role in reward, pleasure, pain, and mood. The way these chemicals are affected depends on the drug you’re using. For instance, while stimulants like cocaine and meth increase nerve activity and cause euphoria by stimulating dopamine release, drugs like opioids depress the central nervous system while affecting dopamine.
Using these substances for a long time can cause a chemical imbalance, making it difficult for the body to function without them once it’s become dependent. This is partly the reason why detoxing from drugs is difficult. You may experience brain fog in the early stages of recovery as your brain attempts to rebalance itself. However, after a while of being sober, your mind begins to clear up, resulting in improved concentration, memory, and thinking, which can contribute to your performance at school, work, and in other areas of your life.
Changes in Weight
Alcoholic drinks tend to be high in calories and carbs, regardless of whether they’re fruity cocktails or beers. As you may have guessed, this can lead to weight gain. A common physical attribute of a heavy beer drinker is a swollen abdomen, or “beer belly.”On the other hand, certain drugs – such as stimulants – can lead to excessive weight loss because they suppress the person’s appetite. After you’ve been through inpatient drug treatment and developed a healthier diet, then you may either lose or gain some pounds and return to a normal body weight.
Improved Liver Function
Liver improvement is a big factor in how sobriety changes your body. The liver is responsible for getting rid of toxins in our bodies and regulating our blood sugar levels, among hundreds of other responsibilities. Oftentimes, people with substance use disorders may experience liver disease or failure because they’ve overworked their livers. When you cut drugs and alcohol from your life, however, you will see an improvement in your liver’s function. At this point, you aren’t pushing your liver to work harder than it has to and can even contribute to its health by following a healthy diet in recovery.
Improved Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar
Especially when it comes to drinking alcohol, your blood pressure and blood sugar levels can be severely affected. Stimulants like cocaine can also increase your blood pressure dramatically, constricting your blood vessels and making the heart work harder than it should. Over time, these severe fluctuations in blood sugar and blood pressure can increase your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as heart attack and stroke.
However, when you stop using drugs and alcohol, your heart will surely thank you for it. Not only will your blood pressure and sugar levels improve, but your risk of heart problems will decrease over time. This means that you can stick around longer to be with your loved ones and enjoy a drug-free life.
Boosted Immune System
Not only will your heart thank you for getting sober, but so will your immune system. In a nutshell, your immune system works to fight off infection and keep your body healthy. If you do get sick, it also stores that bacteria or virus in its memory, creating a defense strong enough to prevent you from getting sick from the same infection twice. As with the liver, drugs and alcohol can also impair the immune system’s ability to keep you healthy and prevent future infection. Fortunately, this system can also improve when substance abuse is stopped.
Despite the many beliefs that drugs and alcohol improve your sex drive, this is false. While drugs like cocaine or meth may temporarily offer a boost in energy and stamina, over time, they can not only decrease libido but even lead to erectile dysfunction. Drug addiction also tends to be all-consuming, which can get in the way of your relationships and intimacy with a spouse. This is one of the several reasons why relationships suffer as a result of addiction.
The good news is that this is reversible for many people. As your body becomes accustomed to not having alcohol or drugs in its system, it will learn how to function on its own again. This includes sexual drive or libido and performance, which allows you to explore physical pleasure centers you never knew you had and engage more deeply with your spouse.
Drug and alcohol abuse can not only affect emotions by affecting your brain, but the act can also lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness. While these substances offer temporary relief from reality, over time, they may contribute to mental illness and other physical repercussions that can grate on your emotions. The impact of addiction on families, friends, and careers can also leave a person emotionally drained, further contributing to the use of drugs and alcohol to self-cope.
But with sobriety comes emotional stability and well-being. When you stop using drugs and drinking, the chemical balance is restored, relationships can be rebuilt, and shame and guilt dissipate. While the process of recovering emotionally from addiction isn’t always easy, finding the right drug therapy programs can help.
For instance, our holistic treatment center in Lake Worth offers therapies like aromatherapy, meditation, and yoga to help patients develop self-awareness, mental clarity, and emotional well-being. If you’re currently in recovery and struggling with forgiveness, shame, guilt, or other kinds of negative emotions, these are some options that can help.
As we’ve gone over previously, addiction can severely impact your relationships. Whether it’s codependency, enabling, cheating, lying, or stealing, addiction can cause people to do things they normally wouldn’t, including hurting their loved ones. As you can imagine, this can take a toll even on the strongest of relationships. But getting sober not only shows your loved ones that you’re willing to change, but it also gives you the chance to restore important relationships.
Our Addiction Treatment in Palm Beach
The sober benefits timeline looks different for everyone. Addiction affects everyone differently, and everyone’s struggles in recovery may not be the same. That’s why it’s important to find a treatment center that suits your needs so you can start your recovery on the right foot.
At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we offer various levels of substance abuse treatment and programs for all kinds of addictions to help as many people as we can. As a mental health rehab in Florida, we also provide a variety of treatment options for disorders like depression and anxiety.
If you want freedom from addiction, our treatment center in Palm Beach can help. Call BHOPB today at 561-220-3981. You’ll be thankful for what being sober does to your body.