Cutting back or quitting drinking is one of the most important steps you can take take to improve your health.  And there are lots of benefits associated with reducing your alcohol intake.  The most important benefit is the reduced risk of harm to your health, but there are also other benefits that may help improve your general well-being and happiness.

## Brighter mood

Alcohol affects brain chemistry by interfering with neurotransmitters that balance mood, among other things. If you cut down on your drinking, you may start to feel happier and the risk of alcohol-related depression is reduced.

## Better sleep

Alcohol affects the quality of your sleep. Although alcohol can help you get off to sleep faster, it can disrupt the normal sleep process and reduce your deep sleep. After a night of drinking, you are also more likely to wake up early and find it hard to fall back to sleep. When you reduce your drinking, your sleep will probably improve and you will feel more rested when you wake up, which can improve your mood and alertness the following day.

## Better concentration

Regularly drinking more than the recommended limit affects your concentration and ability to work. When you drink less, it will most likely improve your ability to concentrate, causing you to work more focused and feel less stressed.

## More energy

Alcohol affects your sleep and mood which can make you feel tired and slow-moving during the day. Alcohol can also affect your immune system, making it harder to fight off infectious diseases. When you reduce your drinking, you will probably notice that you have more energy and a stronger immune system.

## Slimmer waist-line

Alcohol contains calories which can contribute to weight gain. When you drink less, you may stop gaining weight, or even lose some weight.

## Better sex life

Alcohol inhibits sexual performance and functioning, and dulls sensation for both men and women. Since alcohol is linked to the reduction of the male hormone testosterone, it can be difficult for men to get and maintain an erection. When you drink less, you will probably notice that your sex life improves.

## Healthier skin

Alcohol dehydrates the body which can make your skin appear dull and grey. When you cut back on your drinking, the condition of your skin is likely to improve and it shouldn’t take long before your skin starts to look healthier.

## And then there are the long-term benefits

By quitting or cutting down on your drinking, you reduce the risk of a number of serious illnesses.

Drinking less means a decreased risk of:

Mental health problems: Depression, anxiety

Liver disease: Liver cirrhosis, liver cancer

Cancers: Colorectal cancer, breast cancer, cancers of mouth, oesophagus, pharynx, larynx

Heart disease: Stroke, cerebral haemorrhage, hypertension

## Dry January

Thousands of people are into their second week off booze for the month of January.  This is the annual ritual of skipping all alcohol for 30 days to improve your health.  But what happens if you manage to nail Dry January, then decide to keep going – for another two years?

## Less stress, improved sleep

A New York designer did just that, and the results were genuinely surprising.  One of the big things that disappeared from his life? Gossip. There were also some other clear, big wins for both his body and his wallet: he says he saved $1,000 a month, his sleep quality improved, and he felt less stressed. Living in New York, Tobias says it’s normal to have 1-2 drinks every day and found that by cutting out the occasional cocktail, he managed to accrue$1000 more in his bank account.

## More cash

“Assume that I have 2–3 cocktails every other day (which are $10 each without tip), including some wine bottles every month for at home, I can easily spend$1000,” he added.  While his cash-flow increased, so did his sleep quality as Tobias afforded skipping that post-work beer for an improved night’s kip.  Irish Independent, 5 January, 2017.

## Is alcohol harming your health?

Take our Alcohol Test, it’s quick, free and confidential.

1) How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
2) How many standard drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when drinking?
3) How often do you have (6) six or more drinks on one occasion?
4) During the past year, how often have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
5) During the past year, how often have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?
6) During the past year, how often have you needed a drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?
7) During the past year, how often have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
8) During the past year, have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
9) Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
10) Has a relative or friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?

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