Repairing Your Health After Alcohol Use Disorder
Looking for support in changing in your relationship with alcohol? Ria Health offers evidence-based treatment from an app on your phone.
How Drinking Damages Your Health
Chronic alcohol use takes a toll on your well-being in many ways. Physically, it can damage certain organs, cause inflammation, and increase risk-taking behavior and injury. It’s also been linked to a number of diseases, including:
- Liver disease
- Neurological disorders
- Certain types of cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
As for mental health, alcohol’s effects can be complicated. On the one hand, symptoms of depression or anxiety can bring on the urge to drink. At the same time, drinking can make these and other mental health symptoms worse. This can lead to what feels like a never-ending cycle of using alcohol to cope with unpleasant or stressful emotions.
So, can your body recover from alcoholism? In many cases, yes—you can experience at least some healing. Even if you can’t completely reverse the damage, there are steps you can take to support your body, regain your energy, and improve your mental well-being.
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What You Can Do To Repair Your Health After AUD
Your body can do a whole lot of healing when given the proper tools. By quitting drinking and focusing on good habits, many aspects of your health can partially or entirely recover.
As you repair your mind and body, it’s also important to surround yourself with a support system. You can do this by connecting with loved ones and working with programs like Ria Health for long-term support.
Disclaimer: The tips below are a great place to start, but they should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Talk To Your Doctor
The best first step to reverse alcohol damage is to talk with your doctor about your drinking habits. Your medical team can check whether or not your organs, brain, and body are in good health. They can also help you identify and treat specific issues, such as liver damage or hypertension.
If you drank alcohol for chronic pain management, don’t forget to talk to your healthcare provider about alternatives.
Aside from treating specific damage, there are also some general ways to get your health on the right track:
If you’ve ever been dependent on alcohol, your nutrition and gut health may have suffered. Here are some diet tips to help with body repair after quitting drinking:
- Eat an overall healthy diet. Be prepared to tackle sugar cravings, which are a common hurdle in recovery.
- Try supplements to cover any nutritional deficits. Finding the right supplements can be confusing, so be sure to speak to your doctor before diving in. You can also reach out to them for questions about the safety of a specific supplement.
- Focus on gut repair by adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet. Doing this may also improve your mental health, due to the gut-mind connection.1
- Focus on foods that can gently detox your liver. It’s best to avoid quick “detox” formulas, which can sometimes worsen the stress on your body. Instead, focus on liver-healthy foods like beets, cruciferous vegetables, and fatty fish.
Regular exercise in recovery can provide some remarkable benefits. It offers you an alternative outlet for stress, boosts your feel-good brain chemicals, and improves your health overall.
If working out sounds intimidating to you, don’t fret. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. And by keeping your routine simple, you can make it more enjoyable. For example, you can take your dog for walks at your local park, or try YouTube workouts in the comfort of your living room.
Rebalance Brain Chemistry
Drinking can disrupt certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine, glutamate, and norepinephrine.2 These brain chemicals play a role in anxiety and cravings, which is why alcohol can take such a toll on your mood. Research also suggests that chronic, heavy alcohol use can lower levels of gray matter in the brain.3
As a first step in healing your brain chemistry, you should talk to your doctor about healthy habits and medications that can make a difference. Some powerful brain-healthy habits include getting plenty of restful sleep, exercising, and eating a well-rounded diet. Common prescriptions to rebalance brain chemistry in recovery include acamprosate, gabapentin, or naltrexone.
Mental Health Support
As you heal from alcohol addiction, you’ll benefit from finding ways to support your emotional wellness. Below are a few helpful tips to start.
- Self-care routines can help you maintain your mental well-being. Some examples of self-care might be practicing a calm nighttime routine, exercising, and staying hydrated.
- Learn new coping mechanisms. Instead of alcohol, try journaling, connecting with loved ones, or talking to a mental health professional.
- Practice mindfulness. This ancient practice can help you stay in the here and now, rather than focusing on the past or worrying about the future.
- Find healthy activities that nurture you. These can be anything from art, dance, or cooking, to camping, traveling, or weightlifting.
- Find a support system and build positive relationships. Open up to your friends and family and know that they can be there for you in times of need.
Repairing Damage By Sticking With Recovery
Whether you’re taking a first step in acknowledging your addiction—or diving headfirst into recovery—know that change is possible, and it’s worth it.
If you’re worried about your health after quitting, there are things you can do to reverse alcohol damage. Although the process can take time, the tips on this page are a great place to start. For more specific help identifying and treating problems, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Finally, you can sign up for a program like Ria Health to connect with medical professionals, access medications, and receive coaching support as you build your new habits. Learn more about how it works, or get started today.