Women who quit drinking alcohol have better mental wellbeing, study suggests

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Jan 20, 2023

Women who quit drinking alcohol have better mental wellbeing, study suggests

A new study has revealed women who give up alcohol may see a mental health improvement ‘within four years’

Giving up alcohol could seriously improve our mental wellbeing, according to a new study. Lead author Dr Michael Ni from the University of Hong Kong said findings suggest “caution in recommending moderate drinking as part of a healthy diet.”

Researchers revealed that within four years of giving up alcohol, women experienced an improvement in their mental wellbeing that put them on par with those who had always abstained. The pattern revealed individuals saw similar physical health benefits as smokers experienced after they successfully quit smoking.

Findings suggest “quitting drinking may be associated with a more favourable change in mental wellbeing, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers. This may be analogous to smoking cession, which results in the recovery of health outcomes to the level of lifetime non-smokers.”

Quitting alcohol may improve mental well-being, health-related quality of life, suggests a new study, which found men and women who were lifetime abstainers had the highest level of mental well-being, and women who were moderate drinkers and quit, linked to a favourable change in mental well-being. from r/science

This latest study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), looked at data from over 10,000 non and moderate drinkers from Hong Kong between 2009 and 2013. The study classified moderate drinkers as men having 14 drinks or fewer per week, and women who consumed up to seven drinks each week.

Researchers compared this data with the results collected by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Conducted by the National Institute on alcohol abuse in the US, the survey studied over 31,000 people.

Those who had never consumed alcohol showed the highest levels of mental wellbeing at the beginning of the five-year analysis. For women, giving up alcohol was linked with a favourable change in mental health for both those in the US and Hong Kong. On average, the mental wellbeing of women who quit drinking was found to approach the same level of wellbeing as lifelong abstainers within the space of just four years. Those who started or continued to drink moderately over four years did not show any improvements with mental or physical wellbeing.

These findings remained consistent even after researchers adjusted for BMI, smoking, self-reported diseases, physical activity, and socio-demographic characteristics. It was unclear whether the changes women experienced had a physiological basis, or if those who stopped drinking alcohol subsequently saw a reduction in stressful life events often associated with drinking (such as family conflict or employment issues).

These findings raise further questions over what levels of alcohol consumption should be classified as safe and sensible.

A separate study released earlier this month by King’s College London revealed one in five hospital patients within the UK use alcohol harmfully (such as binge drinking). A further one in 10 is alcohol dependent.

UK guidelines advise men and women to drink no more than 14 units per week spread over three or more days. That’s the equivalent of six pints of 4% beer or six glasses of 13% wine spread evenly across a week.

If you are worried about your drinking, Counsellor Noel Bell explains the five stages of addiction to alcohol and shares his advice on how to assess if you may have a problem.

“What may be defined as an addiction by one person, could be viewed as habitual behaviour and lifestyle choices by another. The key is to be honest about the impact of your usage on other aspects of your life.

“For example, is your alcohol consumption interfering with your capacity to perform well at work or maintain relationships and honour commitments in your personal life?

“Addiction is essentially a search for emotional satisfaction. Your addictive behaviour is ultimately serving a need. Counselling or therapy could help uncover what it is you are avoiding.”

Counsellor Beverly Chambers explains the importance of talking to overcome addiction.

“It is important to address your issues. Alcohol addiction is a huge problem in the UK, but with the right counselling, you can overcome these addictions and the issues that lead you there. The minute you use alcohol or drugs to deal with your problems, you stop growing and healing.

“I have found that if you do not have your alcohol issues under control by understanding the triggers, there is a strong possibility that after the counselling you will resort to looking for comfort from your drug of choice once again. Find a counsellor that is right for you, so that you can successfully work towards overcoming any problems or issues that you may have.”

How to find help

If you would like to cut back on how much you are drinking, try these five ways to lower how much you are drinking throughout the week.

If you are concerned about your drinking or worried about a loved one, there are a number of different things you can do to help.

Try the Drink Compare calculator to assess how much you are drinking, find out how at risk you are for alcohol dependence, and discover how drinking a little less could impact you.

If you are concerned about your drinking and need help, speak with your GP to find out what support is available, and check out this comprehensive list of alcohol support services to find additional support.

To find an experienced counsellor near you who can help with alcoholism, visit Counselling Directory or use the search bar below.

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