Alcohol at 50+
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us, but it seems to anyway. After 50, either our consumption changes and/or the effects alcohol has on us changes. Additionally, the reasons we drink change as do the opportunities and temptation to increase our consumption.
Some years ago a client, a highly creative Hollywood success story, and exactly my age, came to us, he said, when he realized that he was “just putting in time waiting to die.” Let me just add that he didn’t lack for creative work, opportunities for public recognition, or any of the other conditions that lead many to fill the time created by retirement or role changes, or loneliness or boredom. He just knew there weren’t going to be any more Oscar worthy shots coming his way.
Many of us respond to with chardonnay, scotch, vodka, and so on, for much more modest reasons, but with similar results.
An end to active parenting may come as a relief, but the lack of structure and interpersonal contact, as well as a well-defined role, may leave one foundering.
The same goes for professional retirement. When 60 hour weeks become 60 hours of dogging a spouse it shouldn’t be a shock when the drinking escalates to fill the available space and buffer the exasperation.
Health problems, deaths, divorce, and any number of other changes can lead any of us to drown our sorrows, loses, boredom, anxiety, and the specter of “waiting to die.”
On the other hand, if you’re 50, you are looking at 35-45 more years of waiting? At 60, 25-35? Even at my advanced age of 73 the odds are I’m looking at 15-25. That’s going to take a lot of chardonnay and vodka.
There are, of course, specific circumstances unique to each of us. We always remind clients that objective decisions can only be made when we are informed as to our medical, financial and legal status. Those are conditions we encourage you to become aware of if you’re not already. Generally, women are better at tracking their medical conditions and men their legal and financial ones, but that’s a generality – again, specific to you is the key.
That’s why we work with individuals – focus on your individual mosaic of conditions, strengths, interests and circumstances. This is how you replace alcohol’s escalating role and recover fully.
Remember, recovering – never “in recovery” – can be an adventure in self-discovery, and how to engage in the next years. Engage, not wait.
No One With Any Sense Would “Go Off to Rehab”
Long Ago, Mary Ellen wrote an article titled: “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Sent My Brother Off To Rehab.” It contains all of the rehab myths that turn an emerging or continuing alcohol problem into a devastating, progressive, disease over which you are powerless, but which Malibu, Huntington Beach, or Center City estates can cure for $90,000 and a lifetime of AA meetings.
Who would voluntarily sign up for that, and the accompanying “Alcoholic” label – a label that destroys careers, professional licenses, security clearances, and any number of other opportunities?
Additionally, most of us who are, or have been, troubled by our alcohol use, aren’t “alcoholics.” Why then sign up to be one? Most of us are medicating conditions that can be effectively addressed instead of being escaped – especially when that escape, be it alcohol or AA or some other cult – is at best temporary and fixes nothing.
Clients have often noted that we are the “all substance, no filler” people. Substance amounts to those things we wrote about in “Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works,” and allow you to replace self-medicating with empowering solutions, not just substituting one symptom for another.
With our newly designed program of distance delivery options, real help has never been more effective, affordable or confidential.
Remember, a free phone consultation with both Dr. Barnes and me is always available to you. Real information from real professionals who specialize in one symptom: self-medication with alcohol.
Whenever you’re ready, just give us a call to schedule that consult. You have nothing to lose and much to gain, the least being a better informed decision about whether or not to change your drinking behaviors.