10 Reasons Why It’s Never Too Late to Seek Treatment for AUD

Xenia Ellenbogen


Jul 08, 2024

A photo of four friends, all in their twenties and thirties, enjoying a chat around a table in a coffee shop

Even in the most dire situations, it’s never too late to get the help you need for alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD can cause short and long-term effects on your health, wellness, and quality of life. When you stop drinking, the body can accomplish impressive feats like restoring damaged organs, repairing cells, and fostering a calmer, stronger mind. Even in severe cases of AUD, reducing or stopping alcohol is worth it for endless reasons — here are just ten of them.

1. You Can Repair Your Liver

After years of alcohol use, the liver has strong regenerative ability. The liver is the front-line worker for metabolizing alcohol. That said, it takes the hit of alcohol damage strongly, especially over time and with excessive use. Alcohol use can cause the liver to develop fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis. With liver damage, alcohol abstinence becomes critical. 

The good news is that even with advanced liver disease, quitting alcohol can reduce complications of liver cirrhosis (1). Within just a few weeks of stopping alcohol, people can see the liver health improve. A 2021 study showed that among heavy drinkers, 2-4 weeks of stopping drinking brought down inflammation levels in the liver (2). 

2. You Will Decrease the Risk of Heart Disease

The heart is another organ that strongly bears the brunt of alcohol use. Some of the adverse impacts associated with alcohol on the heart include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat, and heart attack or sudden death. Reversal in the cardiovascular system happens rapidly in the first few months of abstinence up to the first year (3).

3. You Can Decrease the Risk of Cancer

Alcohol consumption is a cancer risk factor for at least seven types of cancer, including breast, esophagus, rectal, head, neck, liver, and colon cancer. When you have a drink, your body breaks down ethanol into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is considered a probable carcinogen and a known toxin. Further, it can damage DNA. While it may take some time, over a period, your risk of cancer will reduce (4). 

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4. You Will Sleep Better

While drinking before bed may lead to a faster slumber due to alcohol’s sedative effects, it also leads to decreased sleep quality. Drinking alters your time in vital sleep stages, like rapid eye movement (REM.) Because of worsened sleep quality after a night of drinking, the following day can be groggy. When reducing alcohol intake, your sleep quality and quantity can improve almost immediately. 

5. Your Mental Health Will Improve

Alcohol can cause a temporary increase in the brain’s neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals make us feel happy. However, prolonged alcohol use can lead to a reduction in both of these hormones, increasing anxiety. When you stop drinking, the body can restore levels of dopamine and serotonin. 

One study found that among women particularly, quitting drinking led to improved mental well-being through decreased stressful events (5). Many people turn to alcohol as a relief from intense feelings. Stopping drinking can help build distress tolerance, increasing the capacity for difficult moments and thereby strengthening mental health. 

6. You Can Have Deeper Relationships

Whether it’s with the people you meet in your recovery journey or your partner, family, or close friends, cutting alcohol can allow for deeper and more meaningful relationships. Though it feels like a vice for social anxiety, alcohol never truly helps people connect. Instead, it adds tension and anxiety to relationships. It can also cause close relationships to end through increased alcohol-related stressors, like changed personalities while drinking or overspending.

Reduced drinking allows for quality time that isn’t solely centered around alcohol. It also enables fewer arguments fueled by alcohol or altered states. Often, people quit alcohol and experience shock from how much their drinking has impacted their loved ones. You can also experience the inverse—how grateful loved ones are that you’ve stopped.

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7. Your Memory Will Improve

Alcohol can impair brain function in multiple ways. One of these ways is by impacting someone’s short-term memory. There’s a reason why you can’t remember details from your previous night of drinking with friends. Chronic usage can lead to difficulty making, storing, and codifying memories. 

The time it takes to heal the brain depends on the person, and how much and long they use alcohol. However, in just 14 days of detox, studies have found promising results in the brain's resilience and reparative function, including memories (6). Some people can completely recover their memory when they stop drinking. Another study found that the brain’s gray matter can normalize in just two weeks (7).

8. Work Can Be More Fulfilling

It’s no surprise that alcohol can adversely impact your work performance, from feeling tired to having a lower stress tolerance for difficult moments. It can also make you stop prioritizing work and replace previous motivation with alcohol. Some people use the confidence and newfound energy from stopping drinking to pivot to more fulfilling careers.

9. Tomorrow Is a New Day

Even in the later stages of AUD, where alcohol use is progressive, and someone has physical disorders associated with it, recovery is still possible. Reducing drinking has immediate and long-term effects, no matter the length of time drinking. Your life holds potential and hope, even if, in some moments, under alcohol’s mask, that’s not what you feel. 

10. You Can Build a Life Worth Living

Freeing your life from alcohol dependence means you can focus on the elements in your life you may have neglected when drinking. Your newfound attention and care can cultivate a meaningful life that you might not have expected was possible. 

While it may take some time for different body parts to restore, some organs begin healing immediately when you stop drinking. It might feel unpleasant at first, and it’s worth pointing out that withdrawal can come with some undesirable side effects. However, withdrawal is short-lived, and medical intervention can help aid in detox. 

While some benefits of curbing alcohol use are immediate, some you’ll find over increased time—it’s worth the wait. If you are interested in reducing or stopping drinking, Oar Health can help. It’s never too late!

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About The Author

Xenia Ellenbogen (she/they) is a journalist specializing in health, mental health, and wellness. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Everyday Health, Well+Good, Rewire News Group, Prism, and more.

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