Charlie Brooks health: EastEnders actress on 'life-changing' benefits of giving up alcohol

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Charlie Brooks health: EastEnders actress on 'life-changing' benefits of giving up alcohol

The actress has portrayed Janine on the BBC soap on and off since 1999, celebrating her 1,000th episode on February 10, 2022. Approaching her 41st

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The actress has portrayed Janine on the BBC soap on and off since 1999, celebrating her 1,000th episode on February 10, 2022. Approaching her 41st birthday in May, Brooks is in a completely different place than the year before. In an interview last year, the actress revealed that as she approached her 40th birthday, she had hit rock bottom. Knowing that something had to change Brooks decided to give up drinking alcohol, even though she admittedly loves to drink and socialise.

“I gave it up over a year ago, I felt like my life was standing still and it was time to change,” she explained looking back on her decision to quit drinking in 2020.

“I really wanted to explore what else was out there for me to do, and I love the clarity that has come from me giving up wine.”

Admitting that she still “misses the odd glass”, the actress went on to explain the multiple benefits giving up alcohol has had on her and her health. This includes improving her sleeping pattern and alertness.

She added: “It’s been a wobbly road, because I love to drink! I’m very sociable. But it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Drinking stopped being worth it for me. It made me eat s**t food and the hangovers were taking forever to recover from.

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“I have quite an overactive mind and it was easy for insecurities to creep in. Being sober means I feel awake now, like I’m listening and paying attention.

“And when opportunities present themselves, I’m not afraid to follow them and to be brave, because I believe in myself and I know that it’s all going to be OK. My confidence has come back in bucketloads.”

The NHS warns that regular drinking can have damaging effects on your health, especially individuals who are drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week – equivalent to six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine.

The type of illnesses individuals may develop after 10 to 20 years of regularly drinking more than 14 units a week include the following:

  • Cancers of the mouth, throat and breast
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to the nervous system.

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If you drink less than 14 units a week, this is considered low-risk drinking. It is called “low risk” rather than “safe” because there is no completely safe level of drinking.

Even drinking too much, too quickly, on any single occasion can increase your risk of:

  • Accidents resulting in injury, causing death in some cases
  • Misjudging risky situations
  • Losing self-control, like having unprotected sex or getting involved in violence.

Due to the above, any reduction in the amount individuals drink will only have a positive impact on their health. These health benefits can be felt both in the short-term and the long-term.

Some of the short-term benefits of giving up drinking alcohol can include feeling less tired and more energetic, feeling better in the mornings, better-looking skin and saving money.

In addition, some of the long-term health benefits of giving up alcohol can include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Better mood, memory and quality of sleep
  • Help with weight management.

The Priory, Mental Health Hospitals and Addiction Rehab Clinics, explained that even after one week of not drinking, individuals will add an additional five to six rapid eye movement (REM) cycles to their sleep schedule, and have avoided the equivalent of 1,080 calories, the same as six pints of lager.

In a month’s time, an individual’s body is likely to have benefited greatly from giving up alcohol. Better hydration and improved sleep will have increased productivity and daily wellbeing.

Their liver, stomach and skin will also have benefitted from not dealing with alcohol. Individuals will also have reduced their calorie intake by 3,840 for the month, if they used to drink six glasses of 175ml wine a week, or 4,320 calories over the month if they used to drink six pints of lager a week.

For individuals who are alcohol dependent, the first 24 hours of stopping drinking can be the worst, as they experience several symptoms. If you were to drink alcohol every night, the withdrawal symptoms may be more severe than someone who only drinks on weekends.

Symptoms could include seizures, hallucinations and a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Although this can be dangerous in some cases, for the majority of individuals, symptoms should subside 48-72 hours after stopping drinking.

Once individuals have cut down or stopped drinking altogether, some individuals may need further support to help them stay alcohol free in the long-term. Only relying on family, friends or carers for this often is not enough, so groups such as AA may be required.

For help and support, Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. Call their free helpline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).

If you are concerned you might be dependent on alcohol, you should seek medical advice to help you cut down and stop your drinking safely.



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