Drinking too much alcohol
Why It’s Dangerous: If you over-drink on a regular basis, alcohol can be a poison. Women who regularly consume two or more drinks a day and men who regularly down three or more are at higher risk for liver damage, various cancers including those of the liver and mouth, high blood pressure, and depression. Women, who are more sensitive to alcohol, can also develop heart disease, brittle bones, and even memory loss.
Why You Should Stop: Soon after you cut back or quit, your digestion will improve and you’ll sleep more soundly. Your blood sugar will be lower and steadier, your blood pressure may fall toward a healthier range, and even your brain will bounce back. You’ll have a healthier liver and cardiovascular system. Since you’re limiting your alcohol intake, you’ll also be cutting your risk of being in a car accident. On top of feeling more energetic, you’ll probably have better relationships with your family and friends, if drinking has caused problems in the past.
Reverse the Habit:
– Stick to healthy limits: That’s two or less drinks per day for men, one for women.
– Reserve alcohol for meals: You’re more likely to sip your drink slowly that way.
– Drink for flavor, not to get drunk: As an adult, you shouldn’t drink to escape. Find a healthier coping mechanism.
– Can’t stop? Acknowledge the addiction: Talk with your doctor and contact a support group like AA.
– Take screenings for bone density and cancers seriously: Check with your doctor if you should be screened more often.
– Liver damaged? Get a health plan: Talk to a doctor about a high-calorie diet to help your liver regenerate.
Don’t miss these 17 tips to help you cut back on drinking, too.
Why It’s Dangerous: As far as health goes, no popular habit on Earth is as harmful. It directly causes 30 percent of heart disease deaths, 30 percent of cancer deaths, and a massive 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancers, not to mention increasing the risk of developing mouth, throat, and, bladder cancer. This bad habit also astronomically raises your odds for heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure, on top of possibly triggering or aggravating breathing problems like bronchitis and asthma attacks.
Why You Should Quit: The health benefits are almost immediate, because your lungs and cardiovascular system begin repairing themselves within minutes of your last cigarette. Within a month, your lungs will work better and you should be coughing less, feel more energetic, and have less shortness of breath. Quitting smoking significantly reduces the threat of cancer or heart disease, improves your sense of taste and smell, and gives you better endurance. You’ll also reap confidence-boosting rewards like fresher breath, younger-looking skin, and an end to that unpleasant tobacco smell on your clothes.
Reverse the Habit:
– Treat it like an addiction, not a habit: Before you stop, prepare for the tough road ahead. Prepare a strategy, a support team, and a Plan B if your first methods fail.
– Ask your doctor about a stop-smoking drug: Buprion and varenicline have been shown in studies to increase the chance for success.
– Get support: Enlist your friends and family. Counselors, hotlines, and support groups can also help.
– Time it right: Plan to quit during a calm period—not over the holidays or when you’re under a lot of stress.
– Try ‘nicotine fading’: Use a nicotine patch or gum to help you gradually become accustomed to life without cigarettes and nicotine.
– Remember that a lapse isn’t a failure: Use slip-ups to discover your personal obstacle to quitting and create a plan for dealing with those needs.
Check out these 23 ways to stop smoking if you need more help.
Overusing painkillers and sedatives
Why It’s Dangerous: When they’re not taken properly, long-term habitual use can cause more problems than it solves. Using drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin for arthritis or muscle pain can over time increase your risk for ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Calming drugs and sleeping pills can leave you feeling confused and prone to stumbling and falling if you take them in higher-than-prescribed doses. Since they make you feel good, you may want to keep on taking them, turning them into a habit or addiction before you know it.
Why You Should Stop: New pain-relief strategies can ease muscle, joint, and head pain with fewer pills and side effects. Kicking the sedative and prescription pain pill habit is possible with commitment and support, and once the pill-taking has ceased, your body will quickly rebound from their effects. You’ll spend less money on medications. You may cut your risk for heart and high blood pressure problems as well as gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding. You’ll also be more alert and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve beaten a drug dependency.
Reverse the Habit:
– Switch to acetaminophen for chronic pain: It doesn’t cause stomach irritation and doesn’t raise blood pressure like aspirin and ibuprofen. Save ibuprofen for flare-ups of severe, short-term pain. It’s usually safe for up to 10 days, but not more.
– For frequent headaches see your doctor: Migraines can be stopped quickly with the right medication.
– Check out alternate pain-relief strategies: Weight loss, exercise, stress relief and avoiding triggers can help.
– Don’t take habit-forming drugs for over four months: Challenge your doctors when they want to put you on pain, mood, or sleeping medication long-term if you think you’ll be susceptible to addiction—particularly if the drugs work well.
– Watch for hidden signs: Clues you’re taking too much of a tranquilizer include memory loss, excess sleepiness, feeling unresponsive and falling frequently.
– Get help if you can’t stop: There’s no shame in asking for help from family members, friends, or your doctor.
Next, don’t miss this other bad health habits that doctors need you to stop doing ASAP.