While growing older brings priceless wisdom and treasured memories, it can also change your appearance in unwelcome ways. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it will gradually get thinner and less resilient with age, causing sagging and fine lines. Genetics, sun damage and specific lifestyle choices such as drinking can accelerate the aging process. Here’s what you need to know.
How Alcohol Affects Aging
Staying hydrated is vital for your overall health. Dehydration can cause a lack of energy, headaches and poor concentration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it robs your body of the fluids you need. As a result, you may notice the urge to urinate more frequently when you drink alcohol. Chronic dehydration can make you look and feel older, even if you take good care of yourself with a skin care routine that includes moisturizers and sunscreen. A bout of heavy drinking will make wrinkles like crow’s feet, brow furrows and smile lines appear more prominent.
Drinking alcohol can also make you look older by causing broken capillaries, which are the tiny blood vessels near your skin’s surface. With age, these blood vessels will become less elastic, and alcohol can make them burst, leaving you with red, spidery splotches and discoloration around your nose, cheeks and jawline.
Another way alcohol can prematurely age you is by affecting your sleep patterns. Many people pour themselves a “nightcap” to help them fall asleep faster, not realizing that alcohol shortens the restorative REM stage of sleep. If you routinely deprive yourself of REM sleep, you will wake up feeling unrested and be groggy and unfocused throughout your day. Sleep loss also deteriorates your cells, which can make you age faster.
Alcohol Impairs Healthy Habits
A combination of factors related to long-term substance abuse causes malnutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. You might not notice the effects right away, but your body keeps track at the cellular level. Cells contain strands of DNA called telomeres that protect your chromosomes from damage. While telomeres shorten naturally with age, a lack of exercise can also make your cells biologically older than physically active people. Unfortunately, if you frequently feel sluggish and fatigued from drinking, it can make you less likely to maintain an overall healthy routine that includes at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Alcohol is almost entirely empty calories, and prolonged alcohol consumption causes gut inflammation that can prevent your body from absorbing essential nutrients from the foods you eat. You will likely also make unhealthy choices when drinking that you wouldn’t make when sober, such as ordering greasy fast food. Due to issues like these, heavy drinking leads to weight gain that becomes increasingly hard to lose and can make you look years older.
Speak to an Alcohol Treatment Professional
Even if you aren’t worried about the myriad of other ways alcohol can affect your health and well-being, the thought of premature aging can be alarming. A drinking problem can elevate your risk of various health conditions you typically wouldn’t have to worry about until you are much older, from thinning skin to weight gain.
If you have tried to taper off or quit drinking and found it too difficult to stay sober, you can benefit from a qualified treatment program where you can focus fully on your well-being. At Hope by the Sea, our family-owned California residential rehab will give you the best chance of restoring your health and happiness with flexible programs tailored to your needs. Contact us to learn how we can help you navigate the path to recovery and optimize your physical and mental health.