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Family Guidance Blog

Alcohol Abuse Among Older Adults

Signs of Alcohol Abuse to be Aware of

alcohol abuseAccording to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) around 80,000 American seniors engage in alcohol abuse. The actual number of seniors abusing alcohol could be higher since physicians may attribute signs of abuse such as depression, sleep problems, poor appetite or falling to normal symptoms associated with aging. Further, since many seniors may not mix socially as often as younger adults, alcohol abuse may not be quickly recognized by friends or co-workers.

You may be the only one watching for signs of alcohol misuse by a senior loved one, so know what to look for. Main signs of an alcohol abuse problem include finishing their drinks in rapid succession and becoming irritable or testy if they can’t drink every day. Other symptoms to watch for include a poor appetite, harming themselves when drinking or using alcohol to escape problems or in order to be able to cope with difficulty.

Another sign of alcohol abuse is hiding how much you drink so you may need to pay close attention in order to determine just how much your loved one is drinking. Older bodies do not metabolize alcohol as quickly or efficiently as younger ones.

Alcohol abuse is serious at any age. For seniors, it can aggravate existing health issues and may be deadly when combined with certain medications. If you suspect that your older loved one is abusing alcohol, help them to know that they are not alone and help is available. Contact us at Family Guidance Center. We can help you with advice on encouraging your loved one to seek help and we can help them learn how to break the habits of alcohol abuse.

How the Alcohol and Health Connection Affects Many Vital Organs

The Link Between Alcohol and Health Risks

alcohol and healthThe association between alcohol and health is broader than many people realize. You may know that alcohol slows down communication from the brain. Messaging becomes sluggish with each serving of alcohol which is why people who’ve had a large amount to drink can have slurred speech and an unsteady gait. Those are short-term consequences of drinking but alcohol and health are linked in several ways with a more long-lasting effect.

Alcohol and Your Heart

Heavy alcohol consumption can permanently weaken your heart muscle. The affected heart will not beat or pump blood efficiently. Insufficient blood flow, in turn, deprives vital organs causing them to also become weakened and inefficient.

The Liver and Brain

Your liver is your body’s de-toxifier. With prolonged alcohol consumption your liver can become less efficient at breaking down the toxins contained in alcohol. The alcohol damages your liver and the increased exposure to toxins can eventually do harm to the brain. For pregnant mothers who drink, the alcohol can cause permanent harm to the unborn child’s brain.

Pancreas

Your pancreas is responsible for aiding in digestion and metabolization of the food you eat. Continued alcohol exposure can dysregulate this function sending enzymes and acids to the wrong place. The pancreas eventually becomes inflamed and is at risk for becoming cancerous.

Long-term heavy alcohol exposure may also harm your lungs, stomach and kidneys. Alcohol and health – overall health – are inextricably linked. At Family Guidance Center we understand this link and can help you on the road to a healthier life. Call us today to talk about our alcohol treatment program, it could be a life-saving decision.

What Triggers Alcohol Abuse as a Coping Mechanism for Some People?

Research Suggests Alcohol Abuse May be Linked to Adverse Childhood

alcohol abuseFor many people drinking is used as a way to cope with stresses in their life. Too often, this leads to over-consumption. It may be problems at work or problems at home that feel unmanageable but, whichever it may be, alcohol abuse is not a healthy answer. What scientists don’t yet understand is why similar situations do not create similar stress responses in different people.

Some people with difficult marriages, stressful jobs or other challenges (health, financial) are able to find ways to cope which don’t involve excessive drinking. For other people, these same circumstances feel beyond control and alcohol abuse provides the escape they crave. What makes the difference?

Researchers hypothesize that part of the answer could reach back into a person’s early childhood. Numerous animal studies show a link between the lack of close parental bonding during infancy and greater alcohol consumption later on. The thought is that long-term stress in childhood could change the way a person’s stress responses operate throughout life. This would leave some individuals more stress-sensitive and therefore, perhaps, more susceptible to later alcohol abuse.

Risk factors are not determiners. Just because a person experiences a stressful childhood doesn’t guarantee that they will abuse alcohol. If they learn healthy coping skills or possess a strong social support network, then alcohol abuse is not a foregone conclusion.

The good news is that it is never too late to learn healthy coping skills. At Family Guidance Center our mental health professionals can help you learn positive ways of dealing with stress in your life. There is no way to remove stress from life, but there are healthy ways to handle stress. Whatever your current stresses may be, let us help you learn to deal with them in a way that will make you feel healthier and stronger.

The Ugly Truth About Alcohol Poisoning

Over 2,200 people each year are lost to an alcohol-related death – not because they were involved in a car wreck – but because they over-consumed alcohol. Deaths due to alcohol poisoning are a growing concern and the fact that people die each and every day because of over-drinking is a reality.

Middle Age and Older Adults Are Most Impacted
The victims of excessive drinking are most often white, adult males between the ages of 35-64 years living in New England and the western U.S. Alcohol poisoning also affects young adults but a few years of age makes the difference in a person’s ability to cope with large amounts of alcohol. For middle age and older adults, alcohol consumption affects the body more rapidly than at a younger age.

A Sudden Stop
Alcohol is a depressant. That means it suppresses and slows down body functions. The slurred words, stumbling steps and blurry vision associated with alcohol consumption are signs that the body is impaired. If a person consumes too much alcohol things like heartbeat, breathing and body temperature regulation can slow down to a complete halt. It’s called alcohol poisoning and can be deadly.

It’s easier to cross the line into excessive drinking than many people understand. Five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in a single sitting qualify as binge drinking. More than 38 million Americans say they binge drink (usually eight drinks per sitting) several times per month.

We Can Help
If this sounds like you or someone you know, reaching out for help could save a life. Binge drinking can affect the body long term and it can lead to death. Talk to one of our mental health professionals at Family Guidance and start on the road to recovery before tragedy strikes.

A Growing Trend of Alcohol Abuse Among Older Adults

Alcoholism 7A rather large segment of the American population – the Baby Boomers – will soon be semi or fully retired. That fact will impact demand on things like health care and pharmacy. It may also impact demand for substance abuse treatment. A recent article in the professional journal Addiction finds a growing trend of alcohol and substance abuse among our senior citizens.

Millions of Seniors Affected
According to the report there are currently 2.8 million senior (over age 50) adults in this country abusing alcohol. By 2020, experts predict that number will reach 5.7 million. And the number of older adults with diagnosable alcohol abuse has been climbing steadily since at least 1992. Further, while most older people turn to alcohol for self-medication, six percent abused illicit drugs in 2013.

Why Seniors Struggle
The later years of life are filled with many changes, not all of them welcome. Retirement can mean the loss of identity for many who feel that who they are was tied up in their career. It also can mean a change in economic status. Combine that with deteriorating physical strength and wellness and the frequent loss of friendships either through death or moves to be nearer adult children.

But a senior doesn’t have to intentionally adopt alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism. As the body ages, its ability to metabolize slows down considerably. This means that the few drinks which were no trouble in a person’s 30s or 40s can be too much when they are 50, 60, 70 or older. A drinking problem can develop just because a person doesn’t understand the affects of alcohol on their body as they age.

It’s Not Too Late
If an older adult in your life is trapped in alcohol abuse, it’s not too late for things to change. Many seniors in their 60s and 70s have engaged in rehab treatment and overcome addiction to alcohol or prescription drugs. Call us at Family Guidance Center today and ask how we can help you intervene in a loved one’s life and end the abuse. Sometimes, the strong voice of a loved one is what it takes to turn things around.