Many people abuse alcohol despite knowing that it might negatively affect their physical, mental and emotional health. With a growing number of people getting hospitalized or succumbing to alcohol-related causes, alcoholism has become a major public health concern in the United States.
Studies have shown that the lethal effects of drinking are not just limited to one’s health. In fact, there are numerous other aspects that are influenced by a person’s drinking habit, and one such aspect is the way one ages. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcoholism may accelerate normal aging or cause premature aging of the brain. Its long-term misuse could accelerate the development of age-related postural instability, increasing the likelihood of falls.
Here are some common ways in which alcohol affects a person’s aging process:
- Skin dehydration: Alcohol dehydrates the body. This is the reason why a person who consumes alcohol in excess has circles around his or her eyes and a pale complexion on the following day. Although drinking in moderate quantity does not damage the skin drastically, a regular intake of alcohol can significantly damage the skin such as cause premature wrinkles that can’t be cured. An excessive consumption of alcohol depletes vitamin A in the body and widens the tiny blood vessels that are closest to the outer layer of the skin. This increases the risk of permanent broken capillaries on the face.
- Tooth decay: Alcohol is a major cause of tooth decay and various gum diseases. It has been seen that vomiting due to heavy drinking can be dangerous to the teeth as the gastric acid destroys the enamel, which, in turn, exposes the teeth to external irritants. This increases the risk of cavities and permanent stains on the teeth, thus, speeding up the aging process.
- Liver damage: Drinking alcohol on a regular basis can also have long-lasting effects on the liver, which affects the body’s ability to process toxins. It can cause hepatitis and cirrhosis, which, in turn, may lead to deadly diseases such as jaundice and HIV, which can prove fatal. In fact, the damage caused to the liver is sure to speed up one’s aging process.
- Increased stress: Stress, anxiety and depression are some common factors that can speed up the aging process. When a person is addicted to alcohol, he or she tends to worry a lot about financial constraints that might restrict their ability to buy alcohol. In case, a person is a high-functioning alcoholic, he or she has to deal with the fear and stress of being caught. High levels of stress, over a prolonged period, can speed up the aging process by limiting the DNA strands that may lead to chronic diseases and premature death.
- Altered eating behavior: When a person is dependent on alcohol, he or she usually develops bad eating habits and is, instead, always thinking about how to obtain alcohol. This affects his or her eating patterns, which, in turn, leads to malnutrition. This inhibits the bodies ability to heal wounds and injuries. This is because unhealthy eating can lead to depletion of essential vitamins and nutrients in the body such as, vitamin A and C. This could lead to premature aging. Other effects of alcohol abuse are weight loss due to malnutrition, which can result in hair loss, a decrease in bone density, ulcers and reduced muscle mass.
Battle alcoholism with proper treatment
If one decides to quit alcohol the first step would be to check into a detox program to rid the body of toxins accumulated due to years of drinking. Seeking a comprehensive detox program helps one initiate the recovery process.