Alcohol use in older adults is relatively common. Still, as a rule, most people drink in smaller and smaller amounts as they age. But this is not always the case. Some people develop serious alcohol problems in later life. Others experience worsening effects of their existing alcoholism. In both cases, the result may be an urgent need for alcohol addiction treatment. Older adults also have increased risks for a variety of other drinking-related harms.
Age-Related Changes in How Your Body Processes Alcohol
As you get older, your body starts to change in many different ways. One key area of change is your metabolism. This term describes your system’s basic ability to take foods and beverages and turn them into energy. It can also refer to the rate at which your system can eliminate the toxins contained in food and drinks.
Alcohol is a rich source of calories. It also creates a heavy toxin load on your brain and body. The older you get, the slower your system will metabolize beer, wine, and liquor. This slowed metabolic rate can lead to weight gain. Crucially, it can also lead to increased amounts of alcohol in your bloodstream. As a result, a level of drinking that wouldn’t harm you decades ago may now cause you considerable problems.
Do Alcoholics Get Worse with Age? Sometimes, the Answer Is Yes
These facts help explain why some seniors first develop alcohol use disorder in their later years. They also explain why some seniors unaffected by alcohol addiction still suffer from serious alcohol abuse. In addition, they explain why your existing alcoholism can get worse if it’s not properly treated.
In each of these scenarios, the core age-related causes are the same. Alcohol simply has a stronger effect on you than it did when you were younger. As a result, even relatively moderate drinking can lead to big problems.
You may also start drinking more as you age. A number of factors can contribute to this kind of upward trend, including:
- The death of a spouse or someone else close to you
- Social isolation
- A move to a new home or living environment
- Declining health
All of these things can leave you feeling down or depressed. In turn, you may turn to alcohol use as a misguided form of self-medication. This can happen whether or not you already have a diagnosable drinking problem.
Other Possible Effects of Excessive Drinking on Older Adults
Excessive drinking can also lead to other forms of serious harm in older adults. The list of such harms includes increased risks for:
- Multiple forms of cancer
- Liver and kidney disease
- Brain damage
- Immune system dysfunction
- Memory problems
It also includes the potential worsening of a number of chronic health conditions. The biggest impact is on conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Seniors must also be wary of the many ways in which alcohol can interact with prescription medications. In addition, drinking in your later years can significantly increase your exposure to falls and other kinds of serious accidents.
Do Alcoholics Get Worse with Age? Find Out More at Promises Right Step
Do alcoholics get worse with age? Not always. Some seniors get better with the help of a well-designed alcohol treatment program. However, if you don’t get help, age-related factors can indeed intensify the effects of alcoholism.
Have more questions about the risks for you or your loved one? Consult the experts at Promises Right Step. You can also turn to Promises for high-quality alcohol addiction treatment customized to meet your specific needs. To get started, just call us today at 17135283709. You can also reach us through our brief online information form.