NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Alcohol as We Age

Alcohol as We Age 06/10/16The body’s ability to metabolize alcohol decreases as we age.  Generally, a person over age 60 will feel the effects of a smaller amount of alcohol than will someone who is only 40.  The alcohol will also remain in the bloodstream of an older person longer than it does in a younger person. This makes it more likely that alcohol will contribute to problems including depression, diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions, memory issues, insomnia, poor nutrition and frequent falls.

For these reasons, some people who were normal/moderate social drinkers in their 40’s easily slip into what clinical psychologist Joseph Nowinski calls, the “almost alcoholic” zone.  They typically do not present symptoms that would lead to a clinical diagnosis of alcoholism, yet they face serious health and social risks. They may begin to use alcohol to take the edge off stress, relieve physical pain, help themselves fall asleep, or ward off boredom or depression.  Ironically, having more than a drink or two actually has the opposite effects.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing a decline in physical or mental well-being, consider whether or not the decline may be related to the consumption of alcohol.

Some signs to watch for, in terms of “if” and “how often” they occur can provide valuable clues:

- Looking forward to (eagerly anticipating) to their wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages

- Drinking alone

- Using alcohol to unwind, relax, or control emotional and/or physical symptoms

- Continuing to drink in spite of experiencing some negative consequences

Research has shown that many people who have slipped beyond being moderate social drinkers can successfully shift back to healthier use of alcohol.  The road back takes determined effort, support, and perhaps the assistance of professionals, to identify healthier strategies to cope with any underlying problems.  

To learn more about stress and healthy strategies to cope with it, visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/boomers/stress, or read the brochure, “Manage Stress for Better Health” online at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/fitness/fs1730.pdf.  Call 724-3355, ext. 5 to request a free copy of the brochure from the Extension Office.

Information adapted from “The Risk of Becoming an ‘Almost’ Alcoholic,” by Joseph Nowinski at http://www.nextavenue.org/risk-becoming-almost-alcoholic/


Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/bar-drinks-glasses-alcohol-932357/  (downloaded 06/14/16)


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