Today when we hear about substance abuse issues in this country the first point of discussion is the escalated opioid epidemic here in the United States. After all, it is most often reported in the news and is currently considered the most severe addiction problem in the US. Unfortunately, there is a substance of abuse that’s causing even higher death tolls and that substance is alcohol! Alcohol abuse is killing more and more people every year, and we are seeing the results. Younger people and women are being hit extremely hard by this problem when compared to the ways in which they avoided it previously. Still, another often overlooked issue is that of middle-aged individuals and the alcohol abuse crisis. People from the ages of 45 to 65 are dying from alcoholism, and sadly, we aren’t recognizing this for the problem it is.
Statistics of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Among Middle-Aged Populations in the US
As reported in a January 2015 study, 3 in 4 (76 percent) of alcohol poisoning deaths that occur in the US are among adults between the ages of 35 and 64 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- 34 percent, by far the highest amount, of alcohol poisoning deaths, occur between the ages of 45 and 54 (CDC).
- Women between the ages of 45 and 64 drink more than any other age group, according to the Huffington Post.
- As stated by the National Institute of Aging, drinking is a factor in 50 percent of drownings, 60 percent of falls, and 30 percent of suicides. The risk factor for these issues also increases as we age.
Why Is Alcohol Death Such a Problem for Middle-Aged Individuals?
There are many reasons why alcohol-related deaths are such a serious problem among our middle-aged population. For one, these individuals have often been drinking for many years, which can lead to alcoholism, the official term for alcohol addiction. This can make a person keep drinking even when they have experienced serious problems as a result.
For example, as stated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, several health problems caused by alcohol abuse can include issues like high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, pancreatic disease, and cancer, all of which can be deadly. This shows why alcohol poisoning or accidents aren’t the only causes of alcohol-related deaths in middle-aged populations.
In addition, middle-aged individuals might see alcohol abuse as harmless. They might have been drinking for many years and so don’t see the issue of dependence or addiction as being severe enough for which to seek help. They might not even realize they are struggling with these kinds of problems until a life-threatening health scare. Even then, they may continue to ignore it because, by then, their use of the substance has become compulsive, meaning they won’t be able to just decide to stop on their own.
Finally, dissatisfaction with one’s life, job, marriage, or other issues can lead to an increase in drug abuse and drinking. Many middle-aged individuals are becoming disillusioned with the state of their existence, as promises like retirement may now seem like a pipe dream. This could lead to increased drinking and an increased risk of addiction for those who aren’t already alcoholics. Of course, this also increases the likelihood of overdose and death among this population.
How Do I Know if I’m an Alcoholic or in Danger of Dying from Alcoholism?
If you are between the ages of 45 and 65, you may be worried about your alcohol abuse as well as your risk of alcohol-related death. This could happen to anyone, but especially if you are a man, are white or Native American, and/or live in a midwestern state such as Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, or South Dakota, the CDC has collected data to show that you are at an increased risk for alcohol poisoning. So, what do you do if you think you might be in danger?
The first thing to do is to ask yourself if you have lost control of your drinking, i.e. if you have become an alcoholic. Answer the questions below to find out:
- Do you drink every day, and have you done so for decades?
- Do you feel like you need to drink to enjoy yourself or feel good?
- Do you need to drink more and more in order to experience the same effects you once did?
- If you are not able to drink, do you become depressed, anxious, moody, irritable, or experience other unpleasant symptoms?
- Do you experience physical symptoms when you are unable to drink, such as shaking, dizziness, sweating, etc.?
- When you drink, do you often drink much more than you originally intended?
- Do you notice that your drinking has been causing problems in your day-to-day life?
- In spite of these issues, have you been unwilling or unable to cut back on your drinking?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s likely your drinking has already gotten beyond your control and you are probably dealing with alcohol addiction.
Helping a Middle-Aged Alcoholic Recover from Alcohol Abuse
Whether you yourself are struggling with alcoholism or someone you love (like a spouse, a parent, a friend, or your adult child) is doing so, getting help is key to a safe recovery. Alcoholism and other forms of alcohol abuse disorders can easily lead to alcohol-related deaths, which is why it is important to get professional help for you or for your loved one.
With proper detox and treatment, people struggling with alcoholism can safely navigate withdrawal and avoid future life-threatening or traumatic symptoms, and afterward, our clinical team will provide one with the tools to move forward into a life free of alcohol abuse.
For treatment option for those suffering from alcohol abuse and addiction at any age please don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Westwind Recovery by dialing 855.815.9727 to speak to a treatment specialist and learn about the options available to you for a safe recovery.