Alcohol Abuse Risks among Older Adults and When to Consider Alcohol Rehab Treatment
While increasing rates of substance abuse continue to warrant cause for concern, the increasing rate of alcohol abuse among older adults is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States. Alcohol abuse carries a range of health risks, both physical and psychological. These risks increase substantially for adults aged 60 and older.
In spite of the known effects of alcohol abuse, societal trends tend to place less importance on its occurrence in older aged individuals. Unfortunately, the effects of this behavior stand to cause considerably more problems in older adults than for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. For these reasons, it’s especially important for older adults to get needed alcohol rehab treatment since alcohol’s damaging effects progress more quickly during this time of life.
Between the years 2010 and 2030, the number of adults 65 and older is projected to grow by 2.8 percent per year. As the Baby Boomer population enters old age, rates of alcohol and substance abuse have seen a steady increase with older adult population numbers more than doubling by the year 2050, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. As it stands now, 17 percent of the older adult population engages in alcohol abuse practices on a regular basis.
As the oldest form of substance abuse known to man, alcohol abuse reaches across most all socioeconomic levels, races and age groups. While alcohol does affect the brain and body in the same way regardless of the person, it’s effects become more so damaging as the body ages.
Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Unlike other substances of abuse, alcohol has widespread effects on the brain and body, damaging cell structures and impairing normal functioning within most every major bodily system. According to Washington and Lee University, continued alcohol abuse can cause a range of adverse effects to develop, including:
- Frequent blackout episodes
- Cognitive impairments
- Psychological disorders
- Liver damage
- Malnutrition due to digestive disorders
In effect, alcohol’s ability to disrupt chemical processes throughout the body actually speeds up the aging process. In some cases, it can be difficult to diagnose alcohol abuse in older adults since many of the medical conditions that appear at advanced ages produce symptoms similar those brought on by chronic alcohol abuse.
Alcohol Abuse Risks for Older Adults
The body’s physiological processes change with age and become less efficient overall. The combination of alcohol’s effects and the physical decline taking place during the later years can cause medical problems to develop as well as exacerbate existing health problems.
Alcohol abuse risks for older adults include one or more of the following conditions depending on a person’s overall health status:
- Depression and/or anxiety disorders
- Increasing risk of stroke
- Decline in bone density
- Weakened immune system functioning
- Sleep disorders
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
When to Consider Alcohol Rehab Treatment
In addition to being a highly addictive substance, alcohol poses a genuine threat to an older person’s quality of life in general. Without needed alcohol rehab treatment, the degree of damage that results can severely compromise a person’s ability to manage daily life.
If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol abuse as an older adult, it’s never too soon to consider getting alcohol rehab treatment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding alcohol abuse and addiction or need help finding alcohol rehab programs in your area, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6320 for further assistance.
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