Over the last several years it seems like I have been spending a fair amount of time at wineries and breweries. I enjoy a good glass of wine and a beer or two hanging out with friends, laughing, and listening to some good music but wonder what it is doing to my health.
I have read some articles recently that indicate that as women age, our bodies and lifestyles change in many ways, and for some, this may include an increase in alcohol consumption.
In fact, in recent years, there has been a growing concern about alcohol use among women over 50, as studies have shown that our demographic is more likely to drink heavily than our younger counterparts. The lingering effects of COVID may also contribute to the increase in time spent having a drink or two.
Let’s explore some of the reasons we may drink too much, and the potential consequences of this behavior.
Potential Causes of Drinking too Much
- Stress and Anxiety: As women age, we may face an array of new stressors, including caring for aging parents, adjusting to retirement, dealing with health issues, and more. These stressors can lead to increased anxiety and depression, and some women may turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
- Menopause and Hormonal Changes: As we age, Menopause and hormonal changes can have a significant impact on our mood and overall well-being. Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings during this time, can be challenging to manage. Some women may turn to alcohol to help relax or alleviate these symptoms.
- Social Isolation: As we age, we may experience social isolation, especially if we are no longer working, or have lost their partner. Social isolation can lead to depression and loneliness, which can increase the risk of increased alcohol use.
- Boredom: Many of us are finding that we have more free time than they know what to do with, leading to boredom. This boredom can lead to increased drinking, as alcohol can be a way to pass the time and make activities more enjoyable.
- Normalization of Drinking: In recent years, there has been a cultural shift in which drinking has become more normalized. This normalization of drinking can make it easier to justify alcohol use and may lead to increased consumption.
The Consequences of Drinking Too Much
Regardless of the reasons for drinking, excessive alcohol consumption can have serious consequences. These consequences can include:
- Feeling Crappy: The most visible consequence is just feeling crappy. As I have aged I have noticed that it takes me longer to recover. This in turn affects how I feel the next day and leaves me sluggish and making bad food choices. So, Win? Lose, Lose?
- Increased Risk of Cancer: Heavy alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, liver cancer, and other types of cancer.
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease: Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of heart disease, especially in women.
- Cognitive Impairment: Heavy alcohol use can lead to cognitive impairment, including memory loss and difficulty with concentration.
- Mental Health Issues: Alcohol abuse can lead to or exacerbate mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
- Physical Health Issues: Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to physical health issues such as liver damage, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems.
While there are many reasons why women drink too much, it is essential to recognize the potential consequences of this behavior. As with anything, it is important to be cognizant about how much we are drinking and do so in moderation.
Action Step: Identify why you enjoy having a drink or two.