Like many disorders, alcoholism does not affect only one kind of person. Alcoholism can develop in anyone, regardless of their generational status as one of the “Millennials”, “Gen Z”, or “Boomers”. However, alcoholism is more likely to develop as the result of certain factors and conditions. For some people, being a part of a particular generation, like the “boomers” can make them more likely to struggle with alcoholism.
Although alcoholism is not a new concept, it can be misunderstood. It is important to understand what alcoholism is and how it affects a person’s health and wellness in order to understand how it impacts an entire generation of people.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, which is also commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder, is a medical condition that occurs when an individual is unable to stop or exercise control over their consumption of alcohol, especially when facing minor or severe consequences to their consumption of alcohol.
Consequences of Alcoholism
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can have a variety of consequences on a person’s health, wellness, and everyday life. The control an alcohol addiction can have over a person combined with the often reckless, sometimes even violent behavior alcohol can cause can lead to negative effects on a person’s well-being, relationships, finances, occupation, education, and so much more.
In the short-term, alcoholism can have several side effects on a person’s health, including:
- Changes in mood and/or behavior
- Changes in perception
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory gaps
In the long-term, alcoholism can have even more serious side effects on a person’s health, including:
- Persistent changes in mood
- A weakened immune system
- Change in appetite
- Change in weight
- Memory problems
- Issues with concentration
- Difficulty focusing
- Elevated risk for liver disease
- Elevated risk for liver cancer
Alcoholism and the Brain
One of the most significant but adverse impacts alcoholism can have on a person occurs in their brain. Consistent alcohol abuse damages the brain’s reward system while also reinforcing alcohol dependence. In doing so, the brain is essentially rewired to encourage the individual to engage in addictive behavior.
Factors in the Development of Alcoholism
Alcoholism does not develop after one drink or one night of drinking. However, it is more likely to develop if a person engages in persistent drinking behaviors, such as drinking every day or binge drinking frequently. However, there are a number of other factors that can influence the likelihood that a person will develop alcoholism. These factors can also include an individual’s genetics, mental health, current environment, and the environment they grew up in.
Which Generation Struggles the Most with Alcoholism?
Every generation struggles with a mixture of unique generational problems and more common societal problems. Each of the last few generations in the United States have struggled with alcoholism. However, the generation that appears to struggle the most with alcoholism are the baby boomers – sometimes referred to more simply as “boomers”.
Baby boomers are the cohort who followed the Silent Generation and preceded Generation X. Those in this group were born between the years 1946 to 1964. The “boomers” received their name as a result of American adults having an abundance of children after World War II. Growing up, “boomers” witnessed a number of significant historical and cultural events, such as the Moon landing in 1969, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.
Despite the events they witnessed and contributions they have made to American society, baby boomers have had a significant struggle with alcohol. Sadly, the problem has only gotten worse as baby boomers have gotten older. One survey found that from 2001 to 2013, the rate of alcoholism among adults aged 65 and older increased by 107%. Another study, conducted by the University of Michigan, found that 20% of older adults, such as “boomers”, consumed alcohol four or more times per week.
Baby Boomers and Alcoholism
Although baby boomers appear to struggle with alcoholism the most when compared to other generations, the exact reasons why are unclear. Alcoholism is typically unique to an individual, especially in why they choose to drink. However, researchers have identified a few key factors as to why “boomers” are more likely than members of other generations to develop alcohol use disorder.
One of the key, potential reasons why baby boomers are more likely to develop alcoholism is due to their conditioning. Growing up, “boomers” were not only exposed to alcohol but were accustomed to seeing it in nearly every setting: the home, social gatherings, restaurants, events. Prior generations had much less exposure to alcohol and the consumption of alcohol.
In addition, advertisers began changing their marketing strategies for alcoholic beverages in the sixties, which was around the time older “boomers” were coming of age to drink. Many of these brands began marketing alcohol as an essential part of American culture or something glamorous to do. These advertisers also employed the use of mascots like the Babycham deer.
From the frequent exposure to alcohol, alcohol consumption, and alcohol advertisements, baby boomers have been conditioned to have more favorable views toward alcohol and its consumption. In doing so, “boomers” are not only more likely to drink alcohol but to drink it frequently, which often contributes to the development of alcoholism.
Another potential reason why “boomers” are more likely to develop alcoholism than other generations is due to their lack of mental health awareness. Many baby boomers like to think of themselves as tougher individuals, who do not get bogged down by their emotions. However, this is far from true. Like every other generation, baby boomers struggle with mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and more. By not treating these issues and disorders with professional mental healthcare, “boomers” are more likely to self-medicate with alcohol, which often leads to alcohol addiction.
How “Boomers” Can Overcome Alcoholism
Fortunately, baby boomers and members of any other generation can overcome their alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Professional treatment for alcoholism is available at rehabilitation facilities across the United States. The specialists at these facilities utilize a number of treatments and therapies to help their patients enter recovery and remain in recovery.
Searching for All Ages Treatment for Alcoholism?
If you or a loved one are living with alcoholism, help is available no matter what generation you belong to! At Knoxville Recovery Center, our team offers comprehensive care for “millennials”, “boomers”, and more. Our addiction specialists provide our patients with several effective treatment options and therapies to help them become sober and stay sober. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you or your loved one!