Statistically, most people know someone in their immediate lives who is or has struggled with alcohol abuse. Alcohol is, after all, the most abused substance on the planet, far and away. Currently, around one in twelve of all adults in the United States are classified as problem drinkers. However, one aspect of the prevalent alcohol abuse picture in the United States that doesn’t get talked about enough is the spike in alcohol abuse rates that happens around the retirement age. In particular, why do retirees struggle with alcohol so much more than other U.S. adults?
Restructuring life in retirement
Any big life change can be a difficult moment in a person’s life, even if it is a change that is largely beneficial. The fact is, when you abruptly alter someone’s routine and comfort zone, then the reactions to that change can be unpredictable. Retirement is one of these times. A person may feel like they are relinquishing some of their value when they retire. Many retirees who struggle with mental health issues after their retirement describe feelings of uselessness.
If a person feels like their identity is lost, then something has to fill that hole. In some cases, this can be a positive experience that leads to newfound passions in life. However, it is definitely not uncommon for substances, such as alcohol, to be used to temporarily numb the pain of these changes.
Retirees use alcohol as a coping mechanism
Alcoholics from all demographics describe using alcohol as a sort of coping mechanism. In terms of what they are coping with, that is usually a very person ailment to each person that struggles with alcohol abuse. As human beings, we all deal with our own specific obstacles in life.
However, people around the retirement age have several universal aspects that may lead them to use alcohol as a coping tool. Aside from the identity crisis that retirement can lead to, the physical challenges of growing older can lead to increased pain and achiness. Alcohol can work to numb some of these feelings, but at an awful cost.
Enhanced dangers toward older individuals
What is especially dangerous about people around the retirement age increasing their alcohol intake is that the dangers that alcohol abuse presents can affect them at a greater rate. Alcohol abuse is known to have negative a negative impact on a person’s heart, liver, and stomach, which all need to be treated carefully in old age.