Midlife Crisis Withdrawal and Drinking Alcohol


A midlife crisis withdrawal is a frequent phenomenon that can cause a person’s life to undergo substantial transformations. It is often accompanied by feelings of worry and despair, as well as a strong desire for improvement.

These powerful emotions have the potential to motivate some individuals to engage in risky behaviours, such as drinking to excess.

In this article, we will discuss the link between alcohol consumption and the midlife crisis, the dangers of developing an alcohol addiction problem during this stage of life, and the effects that alcohol can have on the body after the age of 40.

In addition, we will talk about how to assist a family member who is battling with alcohol misuse during midlife, as well as where to seek support.

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Midlife Crisis Withdrawal and Alcohol

The term “midlife crisis” refers to a period of extreme personal and emotional turmoil that can occur in a person’s 40s or 50s.

This period of time can occur at any point in a person’s life. It is commonly linked to feelings of insecurity, a sense of lost identity, and the desire to make significant changes in one’s life.

The midlife crisis is a natural part of the ageing process; yet, it can be challenging to traverse, and it can lead to unhealthy coping techniques such as alcohol misuse if it is not managed properly.

Signs of Midlife Crisis

There are many indications that a person may be going through a midlife crisis, including the following:

  • A sense of unhappiness or discontentment with one’s existing circumstances or one’s life in general
  • A strong desire to bring about major alterations in one’s life, such as switching careers or quitting a relationship, for example
  • A feeling of loss or sorrow regarding opportunities that have passed
  • Affective states such as fear or melancholy
  • A call for one to do a thorough examination of one’s principles and objectives
  • A quest for additional significance or direction in one’s life.

Remembering that a midlife crisis is a natural part of the ageing process and that it is possible to work through it in a healthy way is crucial if you or a loved one is going through similar feelings.

A study that was conducted in the United States and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that during the course of the previous year, 66% of male respondents and 55% of female respondents stated that they had consumed alcohol.

Midlife Crisis Withdrawal

Consumption of alcohol at risky levels and binge drinking were more prevalent among respondents aged 50 to 64 years than they were among respondents aged 65 years or older. More than 14% of men and 3% of women in the age category of over 65 reported engaging in risky alcohol consumption, while 13% of men and 8% of women in this age group admitted to binge drinking.

According to these findings, alcohol misuse is a problem that should be addressed as a public health issue because it is prevalent among adults of middle age and older.

Risk of Alcohol Abuse in Midlife

Drinking alcohol during a midlife crisis is not just a potentially harmful behaviour, but it can also be a short-term solution to a problem that needs immediate attention.

Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can result in a number of adverse health effects, including damage to the liver, an increase in the risk of developing cancer, and high blood pressure. It can also make the symptoms of anxiety and sadness worse, which makes it more difficult to work through the difficulties associated with a midlife crisis.

Anxiety and Depression in Midlife

The midlife crisis can be a particularly difficult time for those who are already struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Alcohol abuse can exacerbate these conditions and make it harder to seek help.

According to the findings of a study that was recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society and published in the Journal of Geriatric Care and Research, substance abuse, including abuse of alcohol, is more prevalent among older adults who are battling mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

If you or a loved one is experiencing both a midlife crisis and mental health issues, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible.

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How Does Alcohol Affect the Body After 40?

As we get older, our bodies become less able to consume and metabolise alcohol as efficiently as they once did. This indicates that it takes the body a longer period of time to break down alcohol and eliminate it from the system.

Because of this, alcohol can remain in the body for longer lengths of time, and as a consequence, its effect on the body might be more severe. In addition, as we become older, alcohol may have a more profound effect on the brain, which may increase the likelihood of experiencing memory loss and cognitive decline.

Is It Harder To Digest Alcohol When We Age?

Yes, as we become older, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to absorb alcoholic beverages.

Because of this, it takes the body longer to metabolise alcohol as one gets older, which means that it takes longer for the body to clear alcohol from the system once it has been broken down.

This might result in an accumulation of alcohol in the body, which can have detrimental effects on the body’s organs as well as the health of the individual as a whole.

How To Help a Family Member Struggling with Alcohol Abuse in Midlife

It is essential to address the situation with compassion and understanding if you have a family member who is battling alcohol misuse during a midlife crisis.

This is a challenging time for the individual and their family. Listed below are some things that you can do to help:

  • Encourage the person you care about to get support from a qualified expert. Both the midlife crisis and the alcohol abuse need to be addressed, and a mental health professional or addiction specialist can provide the necessary assistance and guidance for doing so.
  • Provide assistance on an emotional level. Share with the person you care about that you are there for them and that you are concerned about how they are doing in life. Invite them to talk about their issues if they wish to do so and listen without prejudice or judgement.
  • You can help a loved one establish healthy coping techniques. In order for your friend or family member to work through their feelings and deal with the obstacles of a midlife crisis, encourage them to attempt activities such as exercise, hobbies, or counselling.
  • Establish some limits. It is possible that in order to safeguard your own well-being, you will need to establish boundaries with someone you care about. This can include setting limitations on the amount of alcohol that is permitted in your home as well as limits on the amount of time and energy you allow yourself to spend drinking.

Where To Find Help

There are many tools available to assist you or a loved one who is battling alcoholism during a midlife crisis. Among the available choices are:

  1. Professionals in the field of mental health, such as psychotherapists and counsellors
  2. Addiction professionals, such as those practising counselling for substance abuse or leading support groups
  3. Professionals in the medical field, including primary care physicians and psychiatrists
  4. Community resources, such as support groups and crisis hotlines.

It is critical to look for assistance as soon as possible in order to handle the issues associated with a midlife crisis and any alcohol misuse that may be related to it. It is possible to overcome these problems and emerge stronger and healthier on the other side if one has access to the appropriate support and direction.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this page are for informational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional.

References

  • The Epidemiology of At-Risk and Binge Drinking Among Middle-Aged and Elderly Community Adults: National Survey on Drug Use and Health. American Journal of Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09010016
  • Substance Abuse Among Older Adults. Journal of Geriatric Care and Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4146436/
  • Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-body
  • Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Midlife crisis: A myth or a reality in search of a new name? Psychology Today. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/face-it/201104/midlife-crisis-myth-or-reality-in-search-new-name
  • Lachman, M. E., Teshale, S., & Agrigoroaei, S. (2015). Midlife as a Pivotal Period in the Life Course: Balancing Growth and Decline at the Crossroads of Youth and Old Age. International journal of behavioral development, 39(1), 20–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025414533223
  • Prevalence and Correlates of Alcohol Use and DSM-IV Alcohol Dependence in the United States: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005)   https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17606817/
  • Han, B. H., Moore, A. A., Ferris, R., & Palamar, J. J. (2019). Binge Drinking Among Older Adults in the United States, 2015 to 2017. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67(10), 2139–2144. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16071
  • Windle, M., & Windle, R. C. (2014). A prospective study of alcohol use among middle-aged adults and marital partner influences on drinking. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs, 75(4), 546–556. https://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2014.75.546

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