Does Drinking And Smoking Increase Signs Of Aging?
Some of the most potent dangers associated with smoking and drinking lie in how quickly they cause premature aging. People who drink or smoke heavily often find themselves looking in the mirror and seeing a much older person staring back at them. Understanding this damage may help propel you towards quitting both activities for life.
Alcohol Increases Physical Signs Of Aging
If you’re regularly ingesting large amounts of alcohol, you are putting yourself at risk for developing noticeably increased signs of physical aging. This increase in aging symptoms occurs as alcohol attacks the various components of your body and deteriorates your natural beauty.
Common aging symptoms associated with excessive alcohol consumption include:
- Regularly dry skin
- Increased severity of wrinkles
- Rosacea (a red darkening of the skin)
- Psoriasis (sores breaking out across your skin)
- Bloating and puffiness
- Red eyes with severe bags
- Brittle, dry hair
Beyond these beauty problems, organs in your body can suffer from severe damage due to sustained exposure to alcohol. Regular excessive consumption of alcohol causes cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension; severe liver damage that can cause cirrhosis; inflammation of the pancreas, resulting in severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever; and interference with the proper functioning of the kidneys.
As this physical damage ravages your body, its vital components will begin to work improperly or even shut down. As this occurs, your body will begin looking and feeling prematurely aged. It’s not uncommon to see a person with a lifelong addiction to alcohol who looks 15-20 years older than their natural age.
Alcohol Also Directly Affects Your Mental Processes
Studies by the National Institute of Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism has found that an addiction to alcohol severely ages the brain, slows its neurological processes, and causes serious cognitive issues.
People who have struggled with alcohol addiction often suffer from lapses of memory, difficulty creating new memories, or even retaining long-term memories. Much of this damage is caused by an increase in stress hormones in the body generated by persistent exposure to alcohol.
These stress chemicals create a state of crisis readiness that causes your heart rate to increase, your mind to race, and high levels of emotion to run rampant. Unfortunately, a state of sustained stress wears down on your mind and causes irreparable damage. Much of this damage will be focused on the nerve cells in the hippocampus, the center of emotion and stress management.
As a result, people who regularly ingest excessive alcohol often find it harder and harder to regulate their emotions and their levels of stress, making themselves feel older and less able.
Smoking Ravages Your Body
Heavy or lifelong smokers often experience a whole litany of early aging symptoms. And when smoking is combined with drinking, these symptoms only increase in their severity. Common beauty problems caused by smoking include:
- Thinner hair that goes gray more quickly
- Yellow-stained teeth
- Cavities and other dental problems
- Baggy eyes
- Increased risk of psoriasis (a skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silver, or red patches of skin)
- Premature wrinkles
- Yellow fingers
- Scars caused by minor cuts that heal more slowly
These physical and beauty concerns are nothing compared to the severe physical damage caused by smoking. Smokers often experience severely decreased eyesight, cataracts, and poor tastes of scent or smell. Smoking also causes severe damage to the lungs, including emphysema; damage to the cardiovascular system, including poor cholesterol, heart damage, and restricted veins; gingivitis and gum inflammation; increased risk of cancers; high risk of developing diabetes; and potential infertility or impotence.
All of these problems will leave your body in a devastating state, aged beyond its years.
Smoking Will Damage Your Brain
Studies have shown that smoking, like alcohol, seriously impacts the functioning of your brain and causes severe premature mental aging. A study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that smokers had a much thinner cortex than people who didn’t smoke. This area of the brain is responsible for such important processes and language and perception.
While the cortex naturally thins with age (the main cause of aging-related mental deterioration), smoking appeared to severely increase this speed. Thankfully, quitting smoking appeared to help restore some of the thickness of the cortex, but not all.
Quitting Now Can Help
Thankfully, quitting smoking and drinking may help halt premature aging symptoms and even decrease their severity. So, even if you have suffered from a lifelong addiction to either tobacco or alcohol, there are still benefits to quitting. If you need help in your quest to quit, please contact us at Addiction Campuses today. Our helpful counselors can help you find a treatment option that is right for you.