Here are nine ways your life will improve and recover after long-term alcohol abuse.
In the early stages of recovery, many discover just how drastic the physical and mental damage of their addiction has been. Although long-term alcohol abuse wreaks havoc on all systems of the body, sobriety alone has incredible healing power. Along with a strong conviction to abstinence and recovery, there are nine more steps you can take to mend your entire being.
1. Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Drinking increases the likelihood of blood platelet clotting and your risk for stroke or heart disease. During alcohol recovery, an exercise program is essential for reducing your cardiovascular disease risk. I suggest you start small by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a Couch to 5k with your friend. As you gradually build up to exercising at least 30 minutes a day, you’ll rejuvenate your heart heath and reap the endless other benefits that regular movement offers.
2. Combat Nerve Damage
Alcohol abuse can cause alcohol neuropathy or motor, sensory and autonomic nerve damage. This causes a slew of unsettling symptoms: muscle cramps, pain and twitching, numbness, tingling, urinary incontinence, diarrhea, or constipation. You can prevent further damage by eating a nutrient-rich diet abundant with fruits, leafy greens and a rainbow of veggies. They contain the B vitamins and minerals your body needs to function soundly.
3. Lower High Blood Pressure
Prolonged drinking spikes your blood pressure and can cause heart and kidney disease, stroke or eye damage. Once alcohol is completely cut from your life, you can enjoy decaf green tea and coffee, indulge in a bit of antioxidant-packed dark chocolate daily and consume potassium-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, bananas, prunes and kidney beans. Exercise, yoga and meditation will also soothe your heart with deep breathing.
4. Regain Proper Organ Function
Alcohol sabotages the proper function of organs by leeching away moisture. The chronic dehydration of alcohol abuse has a drastic toll, but sobriety allows us to concentrate on repair. Drink water and decaf tea instead of soda or juice, and eat foods high in water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, cabbage and spinach. Although some damage may be irreversible, it’s crucial to do what we can do nourish our bodies now.
5. Assist Liver Function
Heavy drinkers contend with the extreme risk of developing fatty liver. If left unchecked, it can lead to cirrhosis; this means the liver slowly converts to scar tissue until it completely fails. The progress can be halted by complete abstinence from alcohol. The body will need help detoxing, so exercise and clean eating are crucial. Certain medications may be prescribed. Milk thistle extract, vitamin E and turmeric can also help in the purification process.
6. Stop Pancreatic Swelling
Excess alcohol consumption causes the pancreas to swell, putting you at risk for acute or chronic pancreatitis. The most crucial step in handling this caustic complication is to completely stop drinking and smoking. A doctor will need to determine the best course of action for treatment, but I can advise that a low-fat, low-preservative diet will help.
7. Improve Memory
If you experience memory lapses or struggle to retain new information, blame it on alcohol. While no one is certain if this damage is reversible, you can boost your brain’s ability to learn. increase your thiamine or vitamin B1 intake with capsules, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, pork and trout. Stay mentally active with crossword puzzles, reading and writing. Regular physical activity will also rejuvenate your brain with fresh blood flow.
8. Ease Depression
Recovery is a deeply rewarding process, but depression can occur initially after making such a big leap. Recovering alcoholics will need to discover new, healthy coping methods. I encourage you to engage in therapy, journaling and exercise to ease this transition. Just try to be patient and tender with yourself during this journey. You deserve it!
9. Fight Anxiety
You may have relied on “liquid courage” to deal with anxiety, but now that needs to change. Therapy can be an a wonderful tool for unearthing the roots of anxiety and establishing strong, positive ways to cope with it. Exercise, yoga, meditation and journaling can also ease frenzied thoughts and make you feel more in control. The options are endless, so I urge you to explore what’s best for you.
I hope these proactive suggestions empower you to take back your body and mind after long-term alcohol abuse. In the lifelong journey of recovery, every step we can towards healing is worth the effort!
By Angela Lambert
Photo by: Nicolas Raymond (Flickr)