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The Life Works Community Blog

Don't overlook problem drinking in over-50s

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over 50 drinkingUsually, when we think about problem drinking and alcohol addiction, we think of young people who like to go out on the town every week and indulge in a bit too much booze.

We also have a common misconception that it's only teenagers who engage in problem drinking, which in turn can lead to alcohol addiction if the underlying causes are not addressed.


Perhaps that's because we are inundated with images of drunken teens and young people falling out of nightclubs, getting into fights and ending up in accident and emergency departments in the media on a regular basis.


Also, if you look at a young person's Facebook page, it'll often be full of images of them drinking alcohol with their friends.

If you add to that the emergence of Drunkorexia, which occurs when people reduce how much they eat or do not eat at all in order to get drunk without putting on weight, it's no surprise that we assume it's just teens who are affected by alcohol problems.

In fact, anyone can develop a drinking problem for a number of reasons, regardless of their age and gender.

About one in five British men and one in seven women regularly drink more than the Department of Health suggests is strictly safe for good health, states the BBC.

For women, this is two to three units of alcohol a day, which is often found in just one glass of wine, and for men it's three to four units a day.

However, it seems that many of us abuse this substance as it is easy to obtain, makes you feel more relaxed and helps you forget your worries for a short time.

And it's not just teenagers and young people who suffer with problem drinking as the over-50s are now emerging as another at-risk group of developing alcohol addiction.

Such is the finding of addiction charity Addaction, which works with people with alcohol and drug problems.

A spokesman for the charity said: "The thing that underlines pretty much everything are problems with relationships, problems in life, and alcohol appears to be a short term fix for people's problems.

"The people we have seen developing the most significant problems are using alcohol as the solution."

Some have suggested that the financial crisis has contributed to people turning to alcohol as a way of escaping their fears over their job security and household bills.

But the spokesman believes that while the financial crisis may have had an impact on some drinkers, people drink alcohol to excess and become dependent on it for all kinds of reasons.

However, there has been a rise in the number of over-50s suffering from alcohol addiction, which is an issue that is usually overshadowed by binge drinking seen in teens.

The spokesman explained why those aged over 50 are starting to turn to excessive drinking.

He said: "Some people do develop alcohol problems later in life.

"They may be widowed, divorced, they may have children that have moved away, and they are using alcohol to cope with feelings of loneliness. So, we are seeing incidents in people in their 50s and older developing alcohol problems when there haven't been alcohol problems before."

But what are the signs that someone, of any age, is developing or already has an alcohol addiction?

Someone with an alcohol addiction develops a strong compulsion to drink and may start as soon as they wake up in the morning to reduce any withdrawal symptoms they may be feeling.

They will also develop a reduced capacity to control how often and how much alcohol they drink.

Another sign to look out for is that the person starts organising their lifestyle around drinking.

Now, if you notice any of these symptoms in one of your loved ones, it's best to seek help from a medical professional or clinic to ensure they receive the care they need.

The Addaction spokesman suggested that people should not try to diagnose somebody else as there is no check list to run through to determine if they do have a problem with booze or not.

Instead, they can seek advice from a charity to see what help is available to them, which may include rehab.

Any type of addiction needs to be treated by a professional to ensure the underlying issues that caused the condition to develop in the first place.

When it comes to alcohol addiction, it is imperative the sufferer seeks help as it can have a detrimental impact on their health and relationships with their loved ones.

Long-term effects of alcohol addiction include progressively damaging the liver, which is known as cirrhosis. This can lead to liver failure, cancer and, in extreme cases, death.

It also affects the nervous system including the brain, which interferes with intellectual function.

Damage to the nervous system can also lead to a loss of balance, impotence, numbness of the feet and hands, tremors and blindness.

Long-term alcohol abuse also increases the chances of getting anxiety and depression, confusion and dementia.

Alcoholism is implicated in diabetes, inflammation of the pancreas, internal bleeding, weakening of the heart and high blood pressure too.

As well as these physical problems, alcohol has also been shown to play a large part in domestic violence so it's best to seek help as soon as possible to prevent an addiction from spiraling out of control.

To conclude, anyone of any age can be afflicted with a drink problem for a number of reasons so keep an eye out for your loved ones becoming dependent on alcohol.

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I am a passionate writer on the topics Drug & Alcohol Addiction, Eating Disorders & a range of other Mental Disorders and love sharing the information I find. I'm always interested in new opportunities to write & love to share other people's content with my social audiences.   

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