Senior Health Series

This makes it more difficult to enjoy life without drugs or alcohol. Most people are aware that drugs and alcohol take a toll on the body. In recent news, the skyrocketing number of drug overdoses and deaths is causing serious concern center for dependency addiction and rehabilitation nationwide. Not only can drugs and alcohol cause sudden lethal effects, but they also affect the way one ages. It is also well-established that alcohol misuse over time can have harmful effects on brain structure and function.

Information is provided on alcohol consumption guidelines by the U.S. I’m not going to bore you with long-winded chemical explanations about the effects of alcohol. Rather let me focus on several important questions about alcohol effects in relation to your antiaging efforts.

Z » Senior Health Series

Some, such as 12-step help programs, have been around a long time. Others include getting alcohol out of the body ; taking prescription medicines to help prevent a return to drinking once you have stopped; and individual and/or group counseling. Newer programs teach people with drinking problems to learn which situations or feelings trigger the urge to drink as well as ways to cope without alcohol. Because the support of family members is important, many programs also counsel married couples and family members as part of the treatment process. Programs may also link individuals with important community resources.

But this USC study on the Sober living houses on the brain—one of the largest of its kind—certainly suggests that it’s best to cut back on the booze to avoid cognitive decline. The physical and mental effects of both short- and long-term alcohol use are extensive, but drinking can take a toll on one’s social life and relationships as well. People who abuse alcohol may be putting themselves at risk for serious conflicts with family, friends and coworkers. The more heavily they drink, the greater the chances are for trouble at home, at work, with friends and even with strangers. This can lead to isolation, depression and a consequent increase in alcohol consumption. In fact, depression in older adults often goes hand in hand with alcohol use. We all know that being over stressed already ages us, so when adding the abuse of alcohol or drugs into the mix, the stressors are amplified.


The fact is that families, friends, and healthcare workers often overlook their concerns about older people drinking. Sometimes trouble with alcohol in older people is mistaken for other conditions related to aging, for example, a problem with balance. You may have the same drinking habits, but your body has changed. Drug and alcohol use directly affect our diets and eating habits.

2Q== » Senior Health Series

If you’re missing out on it, you could exacerbate health issues or just feel extra drowsy and mentally foggy throughout the day. Every alcoholic drink goes “straight to your head,” or at least to your brain. Heavy drinking over a long time can shrink brain cells and lead to alcohol-related brain damage and certain types of dementia.

You Can Cut Back On Drinking

While heavy drinkers are more likely to have cirrhosis , even moderate drinking can lead to problems like fatty liver disease. It also can make it harder for your kidneys to do their thing.

It can lead to cachexia, or severe weight loss which results in hair loss, bone density loss, ulcers, and reduced muscle mass. Alcohol depletes our bodies of vitamin A and vitamin C which are powerful antioxidants to help fight the aging process. A deficiency in vitamin C can actually affect vision as well, leading to macular degeneration and vision loss. Alcohol and drugs have permanent effects on several areas of the brain. They can reduce cognitive abilities, memory, and motor skills. Those who drink or use drugs are at a high risk of dementia and diseases like Alzheimer’s. Drinking and drugging also drains the brain or pleasure producing chemicals.

Z » Senior Health Series

Over the long term, years of alcohol abuse have been found to have debilitating effects on the brain, from motor functions down to what you can remember. One study found that middle-aged men who averaged two and a half alcoholic beverages per day were more likely to experience “more rapid mental losses” over the next decade than men who drank less frequently than that. The study also concluded that heavy drinkers started to experience memory loss one-and-a-half to six years earlier than those who drank less. Heavy drinking over time Transitional living can cause certain cancers, nutritional deficiencies, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, immune system disorders and even brain damage. Alcohol can make some medical concerns difficult for doctors to find and treat as well. For example, chronic alcohol use causes changes in the cardiovascular system that can potentially dull the warning pains that occur just before a heart attack. Drinking can also make older people forgetful and confused, which could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Alcohol Causes Oxidative Stress

However, one study has suggested that naltrexone (ReVia®) may help prevent relapse to alcoholism in subjects ages 50 to 70 . Results of research in animals suggest that age-related alterations in specific chemical messenger systems in the brain may alter the effectiveness of medications used to treat alcoholism and mental disorders . Alcohol-involved traffic crashes are an important cause of trauma and death in all age groups. The elderly are the fastest growing segment of the driving population.

  • The study also concluded that heavy drinkers started to experience memory loss one-and-a-half to six years earlier than those who drank less.
  • We all know that drinking alcohol has a whole slew of negative effects on your health, wreaking havoc on your sleep, making you gain weight, and leading to liver damage.
  • Telomeres protect your chromosomes from damage and are longer in younger people.
  • For instance, if you average 10 drinks per day, spend five days reducing your intake to eight, then six, then four, then two, and then on the fifth day, you can begin sobriety.
  • Most people are aware that drugs and alcohol take a toll on the body.
  • Some of these people are long lived and attribute (perhaps mistakenly – perhaps not) their consumption of alcohol for that longevity.

WE can also occur in flashes, and you may only exhibit one or two of the symptoms throughout your life and are left undiagnosed. Around 80 to 90 percent of those with WE, the NIAAA says, also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis, which is a more chronic syndrome that severely affects memory and motor functions.

How To Address A Seniors Alcohol Use

And experts caution that not everyone should take these studies as an excuse to have a cocktail. When it comes to aging populations, that one drink a day should be carefully considered. Heavy drinking will age you by increasing your weight, and will cause wrinkles to appear prematurely. Heavy drinkers who cannot control their alcohol intake may need alcoholism rehabilitation to improve their chances of living to a ripe old age and avoiding the toll that years of heavy drinking can do to a body. For their research, scientists at the University of Southern California looked at brain scans of 17,308 people between the ages of 45 to 81, then trained a computer to assess the ages of the brains in the scans. The researchers compared the results with the participants’ chronological ages and their self-reports on how much they drink and smoke. As a result, they concluded that just one gram of alcohol consumed per day ages the brain 0.02 years, which is roughly a week.

9k= » Senior Health Series

Cortisol impairs skin regeneration by interfering with protein synthesis. It also directly catabolizes skin tissue to make glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. Another way alcohol can lead to wrinkles is by increasing the production of estrogen and cortisol. Alcoholic beverages contain estrogen as a reproductive byproduct of the yeast used to make them. Beer is even more estrogenic because it is made from hops, a phytoestrogenic herb. Estrogen steals oxygen from cells, which can weaken the vascular system as well as the tone and integrity of skin tissue.

In addition to feeling the effects of alcohol quicker, the damage alcohol can do to older bodies proliferates as we age when it is paired with Drug rehabilitation health issues that already are more problematic in the elderly. It is nearly impossible for them to stop on their own and without help.

Jul Can You Reverse The Signs Of Aging From Drug And Alcohol Abuse?

Analyses revealed that adults with AUD had brain volume reductions, independent of sex, in a number of areas, including the frontal, temporal, parietal, cingulate, and insular cortices. These effects were particularly pronounced in adults age 65 or older. Accelerated aging was seen in some brain areas, including the frontal cortex. Notably, the accelerated aging was also seen in subjects who had developed AUD later in life. The use of medications to promote abstinence has not been studied extensively in elderly subjects.