Alcohol and Aging: Does Alcohol Use Make You Look Older?

The ways in which alcohol can affect someone internally are widely known and documented. Overtime alcohol can do damage to key organs of the body including the liver and the brain. Alcohol can also lead to weight gain and other health-related issues. Alcohol and aging are also synonymous due to the negative effects alcohol has on the body.

While it might not much attention, alcohol and aging is a real thing. Over time, heavy alcohol use can result in changes to the skin. This is because of the damage that alcohol can do to the body’s organs as well as chemicals in the body. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that alcohol affects the aging process. Let’s also take a look at why, as you get older, drinking alcohol may affect you differently. 

Young woman with an image of an empty bottle and an aged version of her in the background

What Are Some of the Visible Signs of Drinking?

If you’re someone that is a heavy drinker, chances are you have begun noticing changes to your body over time. For example, you may notice unexplained weight gain or changes in your skin. In some cases, you may even notice that minor ailments due to alcohol consumption are now becoming more serious. 

Weight Gain

The most common change that you might notice after you have been drinking regularly is in your weight or body fat. This is because certain types of alcoholic beverages tend to be high in calories, carbs, or sugar. Thus, many alcoholic beverages are filled with “empty calories.”

In men, the weight gain that’s associated with heavy drinking can actually lead to hormonal issues. This is because heavy alcohol use can prevent the male body from being able to properly break down estrogen. 

Heavy alcohol use can even prevent the male body from being able to make testosterone properly. This combination of hormonal issues can lead to the development of breasts in men. It can also lead to men carrying their weight around their hips and thighs instead of their bellies. This is a negative thing because men are supposed to carry more weight in their bellies while women are supposed to carry more weight around their hips and thighs. 

Skin Changes

The biggest visible change that alcohol makes to the body is one that is actually indirectly made. Alcohol does not physically harm or damage the skin. What it does though, is damage other parts of the body. This, in turn, results in damage being done to the skin. The liver specifically plays a large role in this. When the liver gets damaged as a result of alcohol use, it can indirectly lead to skin damage. 

Some of the skin issues that can develop as a result of prolonged alcohol use and abuse include:

  • Rashes
  • Skin that appears red for no reason
  • Bulging veins
  • Spider veins
  • Yellowed skin
  • Other color changes to the skin
  • Small red dots
  • Increased rate of skin infections

Some people may notice their skin conditions worsen when they drink more. Some of the skin conditions that can worsen with heavy drinking include:

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Rosacea
  • Psoriasis

Are There Any Signs Of Aging That You Can’t See?

man with memory lossThere are just as many negative invisible body changes that can occur due to heavy drinking as there are visible body changes. Perhaps the biggest sign of aging that you can’t physically see is the effect that drinking has on your brain. Studies have shown that alcohol can age the brain so much that young people who drink regularly have been found to share similar brain activity to those of elderly adults. For example, young people who drink regularly have been shown to perform poorly in tests of executive function. These are higher-level brain skills. 

Some of the brain skills needed within a test of executive function include:

  • The ability to learn new things
  • Memory
  • Planning
  • Paying attention
  • Setting goals
  • Self-management

How Else Can Alcohol Age the Body?

Excessive alcohol use can have other visual and non-visual adverse effects on the body that can cause premature aging. Some of these other effects are described below.

By Releasing Stress Hormones

When you drink alcohol, it causes stress hormones to be released into the body. These stress hormones can directly impact the body’s aging process in a variety of different ways. For example, a release in stress hormones due to heavy drinking can cause wrinkling of the skin. It can also cause greying or loss of one’s hair. The more someone drinks, the more stress hormones get released.

Decreased Alcohol Tolerance

Typically your tolerance level to alcohol will go up the more you drink. There is a point though at which a person’s alcohol tolerance will actually begin to go down. This can be the direct result of changes to the composition of the body and hormonal changes. This is why you may notice that the older you get, the more prone you may become to hangovers the next day.

You Can See It In Your Eyes

Heavy drinking can cause irritation to the blood vessels in your eyes. This is why oftentimes when someone is drunk they get bloodshot eyes. Over time, continual bloodshot eyes due to excessive alcohol use can lead to the depletion of nutrients. This can cause one’s eye health to decrease. This can also lead to impaired eyesight and the need for glasses, contacts, or surgery to correct your vision.

Can You Reverse Alcohol-Related Aging?

Sunlit  office with two people talkingYou might not be able to fully reverse some of the effects of alcohol-related aging naturally. There are some things though that you can do to improve your overall health and well-being to counterbalance many of the effects of alcohol-related aging. Such actions can even revitalize the skin and body and help prevent physical aging due to alcohol use.

The first thing you can do to reverse alcohol-aging is stop drinking. You can also begin detoxing to get any alcohol or other harmful substance out of your system. 

Detoxing should only be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. Therefore, detox can be done at either a local medical facility, dedicated detox center, or treatment center that also offers detox services such as Grace Land Recovery. Attempting to self-detox can end up causing even more harm and can even be life-threatening. 

After detox has been completed, the next step is to learn how to go about life without needing alcohol anymore. Individuals completing alcohol detox should also learn ways to better take care of their bodies. While you may not be able to reverse some of the damage that excessive alcohol use has already been done, there are certain things you can do in order to make sure the issues don’t get worse. For example, you can exercise and adhere to a well-balanced diet. 

Many addiction treatment programs, support groups, and 12 step programs provide the tools needed in order to be successful after detox. That way people with alcohol use problems can receive the help and support that they need while they continue to live their lives.

Want to Know More About Alcohol and Aging?

Drinking heavily and often can have a significant impact on your overall health. It can also age you prematurely, making you look, feel, and act older than you actually are. More importantly, alcohol can age your body quicker than it should. This can result in the increased chances of serious medical conditions developing or minor ailments becoming major ones.

It is never too late to get the help that you need for drinking. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol abuse and addiction. At Grace Land Recovery, we know the challenges that come with addiction. That’s why we make it our goal to successfully treat every person that walks in our doors with a variety of traditional and alternative treatment methods.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to alcohol or any other substance, contact us today. We want to help you get on the road to recovery so that you can live a happy, healthy, and sober life.