Alcohol and Aging Effects: Does Alcohol Make You Look Older?

can drug and alcohol abuse make you look older

This is especially true when it comes to alcohol abuse and addiction. At Grace Land Recovery, we know the challenges that come with addiction. That’s why we make it our goal to successfully treat every person that walks in our doors with a variety of traditional and alternative treatment methods. The biggest visible change that alcohol makes to the body is one that is actually indirectly made. When the liver gets damaged as a result of alcohol use, it can indirectly lead to skin damage. Broken bones from a stumble are a serious health issue for seniors.

Seniors and Substance Use

Regular alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for liver disease and head and neck cancer, and chronic alcohol use has been linked with an acceleration of age-related cognitive decline and brain atrophy. Research has found that having as little as one alcoholic beverage per day increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, especially for estrogen-receptor positive tumors. Additionally, when a person uses drugs, their liver has to work overtime to detoxify the body. This means that the organ produces more free radicals than the body’s antioxidants can handle. Modern scientists believe that free radicals are one of the biggest contributors to cellular aging because they attack everything from your fatty tissue to your DNA and proteins.

Does Alcohol Abuse Truly Cause Aging?

  • Over time, frequent infections and diseases can cause long-term damage.
  • Across all ages, alcohol can disrupt the immune system, which can cause more infection, organ damage and slower injury recovery.
  • The prevalence of substance use disorders (SUD) among older adults is rising in the United States and alcohol is the most commonly used substance in this population.
  • It used to be thought that moderate alcohol consumption confers health benefits, but experts now recognize that regularly imbibing can have a variety of harmful health consequences.

Social isolation is linked with a 50 percent increased risk of depression, dementia, and premature death from all causes, equal to known risks like smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Health problems, both mental and physical, tend to increase with age. The older we get, the more likely we are to experience health-related concerns such as cognitive impairment, heart disease, cancer, depression and diabetes.

The Experience Blog

Experts are currently evaluating the scientific evidence on alcohol’s health effects. The 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are due at the end of next year, and could change what people in the U.S. are told about drinking. But controversy has surrounded the guidelines process for decades, and this time around is no different when it comes to alcohol. On an average day during the past month, 132,000 older adults used marijuana and 4,300 used cocaine (Figure 1). In this report, the “average day” estimates are presented for only marijuana and cocaine. Because of small sample sizes, “average day” estimates of crack, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants could not be produced.

We work with individuals, couples, and families to ensure that you and your loved ones are on the same page when it comes to your sobriety. Contact us to find out how we can help you navigate the path to recovery and optimize your physical and mental health. Older people often have concerns about falling, which is a common cause of injury in seniors. But younger people who drink alcohol are at a higher risk of injury from falls due to dizziness and confusion.

Associated Data

can drug and alcohol abuse make you look older

The FHE Health team is committed to providing accurate information that adheres to the highest standards of writing. If one of our articles is marked with a ‘reviewed for accuracy and expertise’ badge, it indicates that one or more members of our team of doctors and clinicians have reviewed the article further to ensure accuracy. This is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure FHE Health is trusted as a leader in mental health and addiction care. As we’ve already touched on, drug use can either lead to or directly cause organ damage. Some substances trigger complications in the respiratory system, leading to the body’s organs not having enough oxygen. The organs become weaker, less functional, and may even undergo tissue death.

Substance Abuse Treatment

The damaging effects of alcohol on skin and aging wreak havoc on your health and could make you look and feel older than you are. If you’re worried about an older loved one’s use of alcohol or drugs, talk to them about it. If that doesn’t work, consider asking their doctor, minister, or a longtime friend to approach them instead.

can drug and alcohol abuse make you look older

However, many older adults continue with problematic drinking at the same level as they have for years and may have problematic use without efforts to cut back and at lower levels of use compared to younger adults [6]. Additionally, AUD in older adults can mimic other diagnoses which are common in later life, such as cognitive impairment or depression. does alcohol make you look older Ageist beliefs among patients, family members and providers pose additional barriers to diagnosis and treatment. Older adults may minimize their substance use to healthcare providers. Family members may believe that SUDs in late life do not exist or do not need treatment, and consequently overlook substance use among older adults.

Alcohol and Aging: Does Alcohol Use Make You Look Older?

On the other hand, chronic alcohol use contributes to increased morbidity, exacerbation of existing health conditions, and neurotoxic and neuropathological changes [5]. Despite this growing problem, AUD in later life is often underdiagnosed, underreported, or overlooked, and consequently is often not managed [4•]. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria are geared towards younger adults and may not appropriately screen and diagnose older adults. Social and occupational impairments due to alcohol use may go unnoticed or unreported for older adults who are retired, live alone, or are socially isolated [4•]. DSM criteria highlight increasing use and efforts to cut back on use.