Aging and Drinking
After decades of hard work, our nation’s seniors find their golden years increasingly more complicated. The house that was so often filled with noise, joy, and laughter is now an empty nest. The guarantees of retirement pensions and 401(k)s are no longer a certain. The unoccupied time and unexpected stress can sometimes lead to late onset alcoholism. The extra glass of wine at lunch or some afternoon scotch evolves slowly into a developing health issue for individuals who achieved through hard work and discipline of their adult lives. Scientific research concerning late onset alcoholism helps explain some of the causes and the extent to which this problem affects our loved ones in their retirement.
One critical characteristic regarding alcoholism, including cases involving seniors and the elderly, is the understanding of the disease in its relationship to the brain. No matter the age at which alcoholism overtakes an individual, the resulting disease and potential relapses constitute what is
Addiction has been defined as a pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience resulting in life-damaging consequences. Alcoholism (or alcohol addiction), exemplifies this definition.
Alcohol treatment is the first step to getting and staying sober for alcohol abusers and alcoholics. Treatment is critical to recovering from alcoholism, as very few alcoholics find recovery from their addiction without outside assistance. To get and stay sober, alcoholics need to learn new life skills and gain strength to fight their disease.
Alcohol rehabilitation is a process designed to help alcoholics achieve sobriety and learn to live their lives free from the negative consequences inherent to alcohol abuse. For most alcoholics it begins with a detoxification program to safely withdraw the alcohol from the user's system. This process can be very dangerous, is almost always extremely uncomfortable, and depending on the severity of the alcoholism, often requires detox medications and medical monitoring to be done safely. After detox, most alcohol rehabilitation programs consist of behavioral counseling and therapy, education, and relapse prevention. While philosophies and methods of providing these essential components vary between rehab programs (see methodologies), the ultimate goal of most alcohol rehabilitation programs (the exception being harm-reduction model programs) is to help alcoholics recover from the unmanageability of active addiction, and teach them the tools needed to live in mainstream society without allowing stresses and pressures to prompt a relapse.
Alcoholism, also known as "alcohol dependence syndrome" exhibits the following characteristics:
- Craving: An overpowering desire to drink
- Loss of control: The lack of the ability to stop drinking once they have begun.
- Physical dependence: This occurs when the consumption of alcohol is stopped and withdrawal symptoms begin. These can include, but are not limited to: nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety. Relief from these symptoms can only be accomplished by drinking or by taking sedative drug.
- Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to get "high."