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Alcohol And Aging: Does Substance Use Make You Look Older?

 In alcoholism

Effects of aging can show themselves early because of alcohol use. These signs of aging can show themselves on your skin or be invisible to the eye. Getting treatment for serious alcohol use benefits you as you age. 

What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Abuse?

It is important to be able to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse. There are many ways to cope with addiction, but getting help is the first step.

The common symptoms of alcohol use include:

  • Having blackouts
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Drinking to avoid responsibilities
  • Isolating yourself from loved ones
  • Hiding the amount you’re drinking
  • Experiencing mild to severe withdrawals

These are just some of the signs of alcohol use. Addiction can present itself differently in everyone.

Does Alcohol Abuse Truly Cause Aging?

Yes. The signs of physical aging can include hyperpigmentation, tooth decay, psoriasis, and more. Alcohol dehydrates the body. This can speed up the effects of aging on the skin. 

Some effects are:

  • Puffiness
  • Dryness
  • Red cheeks
  • Purple capillaries
  • Hyperpigmentation

The effects of alcohol on aging can also be more serious. Psoriasis can be triggered by heavy alcohol use. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease. Symptoms can include rashes, dryness, bumps, peeling, and more. A study done with nearly 100 psoriasis patients showed that 17% to 30% had serious alcohol use problems.

Another common effect of aging caused by alcohol is tooth decay. Alcohol causes dryness in the mouth. Without enough saliva to keep the teeth moist, plaque begins to build up. This can lead to stains, yellowing, and permanent tooth loss. A survey of alcoholic patients in Wyoming showed that alcohol users are three times more likely to experience permanent tooth loss than adults without alcoholism.

What Are The Invisible Effects Of Aging Caused By Alcohol Use?

Sometimes the effects of aging are not visible, the way that effects on the skin are. Though they still take a substantial toll on the body.

Memory Loss

Heavy drinking over time can cause memory loss and confusion. In elderly people, these symptoms can be mistaken as Alzheimer’s disease. Without proper treatment, this memory loss will have negative effects on day-to-day life. This is one reason that being honest about your substance use is extremely important, as not all doctors are trained to recognize the signs.

Alcohol and Prescription Medications

Drinking while taking prescribed medications can have undesirable effects. For example, alcohol used with allergy medications can make you very drowsy. Or you may develop liver damage when drinking alcohol with common painkillers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

Safety Accidents

It is common knowledge that drinking alcohol slows down your reaction time. This can put you at a higher risk of falling and breaking or fracturing bones. Alcohol is a causing factor of 60% of falls.

Why Do Hangovers Get Exponentially Worse As You Get Older?

Hangovers are commonly characterized by severe headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, shakiness, or fatigue. They occur as a result of overwhelming the body with alcohol. When you drink too much your body is unable to break down the alcohol.

As you age, the effects of a hangover begin to get worse. This is because the liver’s ability to break down the toxins in alcohol slows down. Cells also can’t repair themselves as quickly.

Weight also plays a role in the severity of hangovers. It is common for your body weight to change as you age. Both weight gain and loss can affect the way your body processes alcohol. The blood alcohol level is another way that alcohol use affects aging. 

What Effects Does Drug Use Have on Aging?

Drug addiction can speed up aging in many different ways. Aging effects on the skin vary depending on the type of drug. 

Cocaine

  • Weight loss
  • Inflamed nose

Meth

  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Facial sores
  • Wrinkles

Heroin

  • Weight loss
  • Abscesses
  • Cellulite
  • Scabbing

Oxycodone

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Flushed skin
  • Excessive weight gain or loss
  • Small pupils

Drug abuse can also trigger many age-related diseases. For example, cocaine use commonly leads to heart injuries. Heroin use has been linked to chronic brain small vessel disease and heart disease. 

Drug addiction leads to a variety of different age-related diseases and can speed up the physical effects of aging. This is especially true of effects related to the skin.

Don’t Wait, Contact Little Creek Recovery

We understand that asking for help can be difficult. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, contact us today. Our trained professionals will help you find the best treatment for your needs.

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