For those who struggle with an addiction, it may feel like the time has passed to seek help. We want you to know that your life is worth getting sober, no matter what age you are. Many people believe that they are “too old” to try and kick an addiction. If you have used alcohol as a coping mechanism for most of your life, on good days and bad, it may feel like an impossible task to quit now. But it’s never too late. Getting sober at 40, or even older, is possible.
Yes, finding sobriety later in life will have its challenges. It will be cutting out a large part of your life. And, while getting sober in your 20s or 30s is quite different, getting sober at 40 is more common than you may think. And there is a higher chance that you will stay sober at this point in life.
As an adult, you may have functioned as well as you could. But, the one constant in your life has been alcohol. Thinking of cutting it from your life completely can be incredibly overwhelming. It leaves so many questions: what will I do instead of drinking? Will parties ever be the same again? Can I actually live without alcohol? Such questions can create a feeling of despair and helplessness. But, these feelings are normal.
There is help. There is hope. Forty is still young and certainly not too late to get sober. Contact AspenRidge at 855-281-5588 for help on getting sober and dealing with substance abuse.
Substance Abuse In Older Generations: Lifestyle Differences
If someone is unsure if they are misusing certain substances, there are ways to determine if drug or alcohol use has become a problem. The criteria for diagnosing substance use disorder (SUD), or what is often referred to as addiction, is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
While older and younger generations use the same criteria and processes to evaluate tolerance, dependence, and addiction, older generations are often more at risk for adverse effects. The 11 criteria for SUD, outlined in the DSM-5 include:
- Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to
- Wanting to cut down or stop using but not managing to
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use
- Cravings and urges to use
- Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use
- Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
- Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities
- Using again and again, even when it puts you in danger
- Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse
- Needing more to get the effect you want (tolerance)
- Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance
These signs can be evident from a young age. However, balancing work life, family life, and addiction can become even more troublesome as you reach your 30s and 40s.
“Old Habits Die Hard”
There is no doubt that this is true, but with an estimated 20 million people, ages 12 and older, experiencing some form of substance abuse in the U.S. (2018), according to drugabuse.org, many are currently in recovery. Of course, the main difference between being 20 and being 40 is the responsibilities you may have, or more importantly, health concerns.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), many older adults with substance use disorders have medical comorbidities. About two-thirds of those receiving care developed substance use disorders before age 40. As a result, they may have high blood pressure, liver disease, or neuropathies that contribute to falls. Many are using opioid medications to treat chronic pain
Yes, later in life, you are more likely to be established with a house, a job, and maybe a spouse and children. Having adult responsibilities can make it hard to leave your life behind and seek help.
On the other hand, there are also health concerns to reconcile.
Effects Of Alcohol & Drug Use
Drugs and alcohol can have severe effects on your mental and physical state. Recent research by Clin EEG Neurosci found that substance abuse during adolescent years can show abnormalities in brain function. This has been linked to neurocognition over a period of time. As little as 1 to 2 years of heavy drinking as a youth can affect white brain matter quality and cognitive tasks.
The older you get, the more detrimental alcohol and drugs can have on your wellbeing. This is often due to many years of substance dependency.
According to alcoholrehab.com, those who start drinking at a younger age are more likely to become dependent later on in life.
- 33% of the population tasted their first drop of alcohol between the ages of 15 and 17
- 18% experienced alcohol at an earlier age
- 16% of people with alcohol addiction started to drink alcohol before the age of 12, while only 9% first touched it after 15
The earlier people start drinking, the higher chance that alcohol will become an issue in later life.
The risks of substance abuse become more pronounced as you get older. After the age of 65, alcohol and drug dependency can lead to a myriad of health problems and a higher risk of death.
Alcoholrehab.com states that:
- The onset of cancer, brain damage, and liver damage becomes more likely the older you get
- A worsening of different conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis becomes more common
- There can be an increase in confusion and forgetfulness
- An increased risk of heart attacks
If you get sober at 40, these risks will be significantly lowered. Getting sober can be achieved at any time in life. It’s never too late. But, for those aged 40 and above, over-the-counter drugs such as sleeping pills and painkillers can become a real risk as well.
No matter the substance, here at AspenRidge, we will guide you through treatments to help you achieve a sober life once again.
Importance of Recovery
Arguably, forty should not yet be considered old. You are still young enough to enjoy a full and exciting life. Being sober will be a new chapter in your life’s journey.
There is so much more to accomplish, to enjoy, and experience after the age of 40. Becoming sober will have so many benefits for your physical and mental state too.
According to the National Library of Medicine, long-term sobriety can:
- Improve your sleep cycle
- Return damaged gray matter to a healthy state
- Help your liver function healthily again
- Improve heart function
- Result in happier and clearer mental health
AspenRidge offers support to those facing substance abuse. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30, or 40. If you want to get sober, you can.
Our addiction help centers offer ongoing support for those who are dealing with substance dependency. We have a team of certified clinicians who have experience dealing with the full spectrum of substance abuse.
Contact AspenRidge on 855-281-5588 to speak to dedicated staff members about various programs and treatment methods for alcohol and drug abuse.