The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains “ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor.” Alcohol is a psychoactive, central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. Harvard Health explains that “alcohol directly influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. It affects levels of lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and insulin in the blood, as well as inflammation and coagulation. It also alters mood, concentration, and coordination.” When an individual drinks alcohol, it enters his or her bloodstream immediately and reaches the brain within five minutes of consumption. For adults aged 40 and older without any underlying health conditions, drinking a small amount of alcohol may provide some benefits (e.g., reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes), but data also suggests that alcohol can increase the risk of certain health outcomes over time. Here is what alcohol is doing to your body after 40:
- Affects sleep: A 2014 University of Missouri-Columbia study found that drinking alcohol as a method of getting to sleep disrupts the body’s sleep homeostasis, or sleep regulator, and adversely affects one’s natural sleep cycles. The disruption in sleep patterns caused by alcohol can affect one’s energy levels and mood.
- Shifts hormone levels: Alcohol can lower testosterone levels in men, and can increase testosterone and estradiol levels in women. Increased hormone levels can stimulate oil glands, and increased oil can lead to clogged pores and acne.
- Packs on the pounds: Alcohol contains calories, and although they are metabolized differently than food, they must be accounted for. Drinking alcohol can suppress the hormone leptin, which controls appetite. Additionally, the metabolism slows down 5% every decade after 40, which makes it easier to gain weight. Research has found that the presence of alcohol can impede the release of glucose, elevating one’s blood sugar levels, which in turn can increase the risk for developing cardiovascular complications and metabolic problems (e.g., diabetes).
- Interferes with medications: It is not uncommon for people over the age of 40 to take daily medications, which can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol.
- Increases anxiety: While drinking alcohol can result in fleeting feelings of relaxation, it is not uncommon for an individual to experience increased feelings of anxiety after the initial effects of alcohol wear off. Alcohol reduces the amount of serotonin (the neurotransmitter that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) in the brain, and low levels of serotonin are associated with increased anxiety.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org