When I quit drinking, I thought all I had to do was survive the hangover and then my body would be back to normal. I was wrong. I had no idea how much water helps addiction recovery.
Alcohol takes a huge toll on the body. Not only do we lose nutrients because we choose alcohol over nutritious food and water, but we fill our bodies with toxins that damage organs such as the liver, pancreas, and brain. Recovery involves more than just a few days to detox. In fact, it’s a gradual process taking the brain a year or more to clear the fog enough to begin making good decisions. This is, of course, if the brain isn’t damaged permanently. Fortunately, water helps addiction recovery. Help this process along by making sure you drink enough water daily.
How Much Water Do You Drink?
During my heavy drinking days, the answer to that question was very little because my focus wasn’t on drinking water. It was on drinking alcohol. I knew water was good for me and that it would help alleviate my morning hangover headache, but the only time I considered drinking it was in connection to my alcohol consumption.
I drank a small glass of water in between each large mixed drink to slow me down. Then, in the morning, I would try to get down another glass. Try. The hair of the dog seemed to help better, so I switched to bloody marys. After all, I needed vegetables too.
How Alcohol Dehydrates
When we drink alcohol, we simply don’t drink enough water, but let’s also factor in the impact alcohol also has on hydration. Alcohol is a diuretic. In a way, this is a good thing. It’s your body’s way of pushing out the toxins consumed when you drink alcohol. For every 10 mg of alcohol you drink, you will often eliminate 100 ml of urine from your body. Furthermore, alcohol suppresses your vasopressin production, a chemical in the body that causes you to retain water.
“Oh no, Jeanna. You broke the plug. Now you’re going to pee all night long.”
I no longer drink alcohol, but now, two years later, I still suffer from dehydration quite regularly. In fact, there are mornings when I wake up with that familiar hangover headache and think, well that’s not fair. I didn’t even get to party the night before. The consequences without the fun. The problem is, I’m still not focusing on getting enough water.
Water Helps Addiction Recovery
Your brain is already 75% water, but it needs replenishing to keep working correctly. water helps addiction recovery by flushing out toxins and transporting nutrients to the body. Staying hydrated helps your brain do what it was meant to do.
Dehydration, on the other hand, creates a long list of strain on the brain that makes it difficult for it to function at peak performance. It also causes:
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- Difficulty sleeping
The overall outcome is that when in dehydration, the brain has difficulty focusing and solving problems. You just won’t function at your full potential. Add to that the years of substance abuse imposed on the brain, and it just makes sense to keep drinking, water that is.
Are You Drinking Enough Water to Help Addiction Recovery?
There are two ways to check that you are getting enough water. The first is to check the color of your urine. According to Healthline.com. transparent urine means that you may be over-hydrating while an amber or burnt orange color suggests that you may be dehydrated. The optimal color for proper hydration is somewhere between lemonade and a light beer.
The second way to determine how much water you need is to simply divide your weight by two and drink that many ounces of water daily.
So a 190 lbs. man should be drinking 95 ounces (just under 6 16.9 oz bottles) of water each day.
If you are having trouble getting in that much water, try these tips.
1. Pre-Measure Your Daily Water Intake
One easy way to keep track of your daily water intake is to get a gallon jug or a pitcher and fill it with the necessary amount of water for the day. If you need, put your name on the container and make sure other people in your home know not to drink that water. You can also mark the jug with times of the day to keep track of your progress.
2. Flavor Your Water
Water all the time can get boring. Add a little excitement by giving it a little twist–a twist of lemon, a twist of lime, or a twist of orange. In fact, you can infuse your water with many different types of fruits (berries, apples, melons), vegetables (cucumber, celery), herbs (mint, lavender, basil), and roots (ginger). Try mixing it up with a combination. Watermelon and mint or strawberries and lemon blend nicely and are very refreshing on a hot summer day. Check out Taste of Home for more infused water ideas.
3. Add a Water Tracking App to Your Phone
There are many apps available that can help you track your water intake. In fact, my phone came with a health program already downloaded that tracked my water, stress levels, heart rate, daily steps, and other vitals. Plus, apps like this make taking care of yourself fun. If you don’t already have an app on your phone, you can download apps like Hydro Coach and Daily Water Tracker Reminder. However, if you don’t want to download an app to track your water intake but do want something that will remind you to drink water, you can set your phone alarm to go off hourly. As a bonus, don’t just include drinking water into that ritual. Use that reminder to find something to be grateful for or practice a moment of purposeful breathing.
4. Integrate Drinking Water into an Already Established Daily Habit
We all have daily habits. There are some that we don’t even think of as habits. For example, we wake up every morning, go to the bathroom, and eat meals. Each of these activities can be accompanied by a glass of water simply by keeping a glass of water on your nightstand, in the bathroom, and selecting water instead of soda during your meals. Consider other daily habits you may have. Workout sessions seem to naturally encourage water drinking, but have you considered including water as part of meditation. Do you read a lot? Finish each chapter with a few drinks of water. Get creative.
5. Get a Sodastream
I love carbonated drinks, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with the occasional soda, but for every bottle of syrupy sweet soda I drink, I don’t drink a bottle of water. Furthermore, many carbonated sodas are filled with caffeine which is also a diuretic and can lead to dehydration. I can, however, create a nice substitute with the help of a soda machine. A Sodastream takes normal water and carbonates it without all the chemicals that are found in bottled sodas. You can then flavor your carbonated water by infusing it with fruits and vegetables.
6. Increase Your Desire for Water with Salty Foods
Why do you think bar countertops are loaded with salty snacks like pretzels and popcorn? The simple answer is that salt makes you thirsty, encouraging you to drink more. While you may want to watch your salt intake if you have health problems, choosing salty snacks to graze on if you don’t could lead you to drink more water. Nuts, seeds, popcorn, or beef jerky are great high soduim choices that are high in other nutrients that your body also needs.
7. Drink with a Straw
When I had stomach surgery, I was told not to drink with a straw because it causes you to drink faster and more. In this case, however, drinking more is the goal. You can purchase a box of straws at any local grocery store, but why not personalize your straw or make it fun by investing in a few eco-friendly designer straws. There are a few additional bonuses with these as well. First, the fatter the straw, the more you will drink. Second, your investment will encourage you to use your straws. Third, you (and others) will have an easier time identifying your drink. If you go this route, don’t forget to get a straw cleaner.
8. Get a High-Tech Water Bottle
Until I started researching for this article, I didn’t even know these existed, but here they are. Smart water bottles that sync with your phone via an app to help you track your water intake. Smart water bottles do everything from filter your water to providing reminders to encourage you to drink. They have sensors that track how much water you drink and track your goals. Some of them even play music so you can listen while you walk. If high-tech excites and motivates you, a smart water bottle might be the perfect way to make sure you are drinking all you need to keep your brain in tip-top shape.
Water helps addiction recovery long after the detox stage. In fact, it will boost your mental awareness during that important first year after you have stopped drinking giving you an essential tool for maintaining sobriety as well as clarity as you move forward in life thereafter.
Being well-hydrated is not only the smart thing to do, but it makes you smarter. Isn’t it time you grabbed a glass of water?
Your Brain Will Thank You
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