Figures from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that approximately 29.5 million people aged 12+ in the US suffer with an alcohol use disorder.
But by way of contrast, whether for health and lifestyle choices or for other personal reasons, many people choose to abstain completely from alcohol. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 36% of US adults aged 18+ regard themselves as ‘total abstainers’.
There are also many high-profile figures who have chosen a life away from alcohol. Here are just a few of them:
Samuel L Jackson, one of the most widely recognized actors of his time, previously struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, but says that sobriety helped him to become a better actor.
Bradley Cooper, known for his award-winning performances in A Star Is Born and The Hangover, also suffered from addiction. At the age of 29, he got sober and has stayed so for nearly 20 years.
Brad Pitt has also been very open about his struggles with alcohol addiction and reportedly hasn’t touched alcohol for six years.
Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton, started drinking at just 16 and has now embraced a sober lifestyle having realized that alcohol and hangovers were affecting his mental health ahead of races.
Chrissy Teigen, model and wife to John Legend, also recently celebrated her one-year-sober anniversary and said her anxiety has reduced as a result.
Similarly, singer Nicki Minaj revealed that since being sober she is happier and sees more good in people and the world around her.
Actress and producer Drew Barrymore and actress Eva Mendes are also both alcohol-free and frequently share their sober life choices with their followers on social media.
What are the benefits of an alcohol-free life?
Short-term effects of alcohol include slurred speed, drowsiness, slower reaction times and impaired memory. However, people who drink for several hours may experience other effects including paranoia, increased aggression, and mood swings. Alcohol can also lower your inhibitions, leading to increased risk-taking.
Long-term chronic and excessive alcohol consumption over many years has been linked to several serious health complications including alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), strokes, and certain types of cancer.
Studies have shown that there are many health benefits associated with taking a break from alcohol and drinking alcohol-free drinks. This includes having a clearer head, more energy, better sleep, healthy weight loss, and a sense of achievement. You may even begin to see positive changes in as little as one week as the brain heals itself and chemical levels regulate.
However, it is important to note that the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake can vary significantly, depending on an individual’s level of alcohol dependency.
Tips for reducing your alcohol intake
According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, published by the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services, adults of legal drinking age who choose to drink alcohol should drink in moderation.
Men of legal drinking age should limit their intake to two drinks or less per day, while women of legal drinking age are advised to limit their intake to one drink or less per day, on days when alcohol is consumed.
The Dietary Guidelines report also outlines alcoholic drink equivalents, to help Americans
monitor their intake.
For example, one alcoholic drink is defined as containing 14 grams (0.6 fluid ounces) of pure
alcohol. The following beverages would count as one alcoholic drink:
- 12 fl oz of regular beer (5% alcohol)
- 5 fl oz of wine (12% alcohol)
- 5 fl oz of 80 proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
As well as keeping track of the number of drinks you have had in one sitting, and being mindful of how many drinks you are consuming during the week, it can be helpful to:
- Choose smaller drinks – perhaps swapping a large glass of wine for a small glass
- Avoid drinking every day – aim for a set number of alcohol-free days each week and stick to them
- Avoid having alcohol at home – having alcohol within easy reach can make limiting your consumption more difficult. Try alcohol-free options instead, like mocktails, to quench your thirst
- Team up with a friend – it can be helpful to have support when you are trying to reduce how much you drink. Consider teaming up with a friend to reduce your alcohol intake. This can help ensure you stick to your goals
For individuals struggling with more severe alcohol addiction, reducing alcohol intake, or quitting drinking altogether can be extremely challenging, meaning that professional support is required.
Where can I get an alcohol test?
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