Can I Become an Adult Alcoholic Even If I Drank Responsibly When I Was Younger?

Can I Become an Adult Alcoholic Even If I Drank Responsibly When I Was Younger?While underage drinking carries a high risk of addiction, adults can easily fall prey to the disease even if they drank responsibly into their fifties or sixties. There is no safe age for alcohol use. Issues related to aging may put an adult at an increased risk for addiction.

Risk Factors for Alcoholism

The human brain is not fully developed, until individuals reach their early to mid twenties. Alcohol or drug abuse during the teen years is especially risky, as the still-developing brain is far more susceptible to the disease than a fully developed brain. Additionally the underage brain is still absorbing cultural influences and learning behaviors and habits. While these factors combine to put young adults at high risk for addiction, adults face many of the same risks and challenges. Some of the most common risk factors for the development of alcoholism include the following:

  • Hereditary patterns
  • Traumatic experiences such as the loss of a loved one, a personal injury, financial struggles or poor health
  • Consistent low-level alcohol use over an extended period of time
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Loneliness

Excessive alcohol consumption at any age causes the brain to release increased quantities of the naturally occurring feel-good chemical dopamine. After two or three drinks the user feels pleasantly relaxed and comfortable. Inhibitions are diminished and good judgment falters. Symptoms of underlying psychological disorders or issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness, fear, trauma or boredom will be temporarily relieved by alcohol. Many adults turn to alcohol to help them get through a rough period in life, cope with a stressful job or manage a personal loss. They may have an increased sense of invulnerability to alcoholism, since they have avoided it for so long. However even senior citizens who never drank until they were adults can become addicted.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

The tell-tale signs of alcohol addiction are the same for people of any age and include the following:

  • Dishonesty about drinking
  • An inability to stop drinking once you start
  • Consuming more than 3 drinks per day for men or 2 per day for women
  • Defensiveness when approached about drinking
  • Mixing alcohol with prescription medications or other drugs
  • Loss of interest in previously loved activities or people

Successful Alcoholism Recovery at Any Age

Recovery from alcoholism at any age is accomplished through the following basic treatment techniques:

  • Counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Education
  • Accountability

Residential treatment is especially effective for adults, as it provides a full removal from the pressures and stressors of daily life. The most successful rehab programs treat their patients in a fully integrated and holistic way. All aspects of the disease including underlying or co-occurring mental health concerns must be diagnosed and treated.

Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Adults

If you’re concerned about your alcohol use, please call our toll-free helpline. We will answer any questions you have, can assess your current relationship with alcohol and are connected with the best possible resources for lasting recovery. Alcoholism affects millions of adults every year. You are not alone, and we are here 24 hours a day to help.