Alcohol Addiction in Older Women

Alcohol Addiction in Older WomenAccording to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) alcoholism is a chronic disease that can be progressive and life threatening. In the short term, the use of alcohol affects the brain and results in a high that may be relaxed or sleepy. Longer term effects on the brain actually change how the brain perceives the need for alcohol.

Characteristics of Alcohol Addiction

Genetics and environment can both contribute to alcohol addiction and create the following characteristics:

  • Craving alcohol and drinking compulsively in spite of risks and consequences
  • Loss of control including the inability to stop drinking
  • Tolerance which results in increasing the amount of alcohol required to get the desired effect
  • Physical dependence which results in withdrawal symptoms including nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety

Any person addicted to alcohol requires addiction treatment services. However, many women feel embarrassment and shame which deters them from treatment. It is important for friends and family members to encourage and support an older woman’s journey toward getting addiction treatment. Many addiction treatment facilities encourage the elderly to participate in alcohol rehab, especially since older women are often more compliant and willing to be fully involved in treatment.

Older Women and Alcoholism

According to research sponsored by NIAAA a woman is more likely to drink excessively if she has any of the following problems:

  • Parents and siblings (or other blood relatives) with alcohol problems
  • A partner who drinks heavily
  • A high tolerance
  • A history of depression
  • A history of childhood physical or sexual abuse

These contributors often lead to unresolved issues that can be precursors to alcohol abuse.

Impact of Long-Term Alcohol Abuse

Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to several serious health issues, including the following problems:

  • Some types of cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Immune system disorders
  • Brain damage

In addition, some health conditions are worsened by excessive abuse of alcohol, including the following:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers

Because of the severity of physical health issues that can arise from alcohol abuse, it is important for a woman to acknowledge her addiction and seek treatment.

Women, Alcohol and Drugs

As people get older, they often take more prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies. However, alcohol use with any of these products is not recommended; in fact, the use of alcohol with some drugs can be extremely dangerous. It is important for women to seek advice from a physician about alcohol use before taking any drug. Combining alcohol with a drug can cause the following issues:

  • Increased risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding with the combined use of alcohol and aspirin
  • Extreme fatigue when alcohol is combined with cold and allergy medicines
  • Increased risk for liver damage when alcohol is used with large doses of acetaminophen
  • Increased risk for seizure, coma, and death when combining alcohol with some sleeping pills, pain pills or anxiety/anti-depression medicine

Because of the risks associated with alcohol and medications, it is important for women to track their medications and avoid alcohol when contraindicated with medications and supplements.

Alcoholism Help for Older Women

If you or someone you know is an alcoholic, seek help choosing detox and rehab services. While recovery from alcoholism is difficult, it is possible and we can help, so please call our toll-free helpline today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about alcoholism. We are here to help.