Veronica wanted to hand over this topic to Chip as he is the ‘old one.’ But then realized she qualifies as ‘getting old’ too! Chip and Veronica discuss all this related to aging and sobriety. Including the risks of drinking as we age. Health issues and medication.
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Our relationship with alcohol and its impact on our bodies changes as we age.
When you’re drinking alcohol under age 23, your body is still developing, and by throwing alcohol into the mix, you’re messing with how your body’s meant to mature.
For older people, certain things come along with aging that require us to take medication. We’re not helping matters by adding alcohol to that. You might think that alcohol helps you to deal with the pain of arthritis, but at the root, it’s not helping the problem. Most drugs were not designed to be mixed with alcohol to achieve the best effect.
Many other factors come into play with it comes to alcohol and sobriety at different ages. Chip and I discuss our experience with sobriety and aging, the stumbling blocks we’ve seen clients encounter, and how you can arm yourself with the tools to achieve and maintain sobriety.
Health as you age
As you age, it becomes much more obvious how important your health is. Having a baseline of a good level of movement, a healthy diet, and taking care of yourself daily can make all the difference in your quality of life and longevity.
With all the empirical evidence about the damage that alcohol does to the body, it’s great to see that sobriety is no longer something left for older people. Where twenty years ago, it was almost unheard of to see people coming into rehab under 30, it’s now commonplace to see people go to rehab in their early twenties and even as young as 19.
As your body’s primary detoxification system, your liver is an essential element of countless processes in the body, including processing alcohol.
Because alcohol is especially difficult to process, excessive drinking is extremely detrimental to your liver. Whether you’re a young person drinking a lot or an older person who’s been drinking for years, all that alcohol puts a massive strain on your liver.
That’s one of the reasons that many drinkers end up with liver failure. Their livers give up after years of trying to cope with all the alcohol it’s trying to process.
A false sense of security
The longer you drink, the more you build up your tolerance.
Where a bottle of wine would have left you ill in the early days, the older you get, you’re likely to be able to drink much more without feeling a buzz. Unfortunately, that tolerance tends to bring a false sense of security that it’s not doing you any harm.
That’s not the case. Your ability to drink a lot without outward consequences is not a sign that you don’t have a problem.
Accessing help at different ages
When you’re accessing help in a group setting, like a rehab, it can be helpful to have a group around the same age as you.
That said, it’s not always possible, and if we’re not careful, can become an unnecessary barrier to recovery. Regardless of how old you are, if you’re prepared to keep your ears and mind open enough, you will be able to find something to identify with in another person’s journey to sobriety.
That’s also where a good therapeutic team can be so important because they can help you work through those feelings of not belonging to get the most value regardless.
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