Excessive Alcohol Use Is Associated with the Acceleration and Intensification of Menopause
anonymous Asks ...
Is menopause ever a cause for excessive drinking. My wife is going through menopause right now and she is having a hard time with things. She is getting a lot of the usual symptoms like the hit flashes and sweats and she is also very emotional and sometimes, to my mind, she is not acting very rational. She is also drinking a lot more than she ever has before. She always liked to have a glass of wine with dinner and maybe a couple on the weekends but now she is getting drunk more than a couple nights a week, When she gets drunk she is much more likely to have an emotional ‘meltdown’ and it is very hard on me, but especially hard on our two high school aged kids. They know what she is going through and they’re good kids and they are trying to be sympathetic but they are also too often the target of her irrational anger and it’s hard for them to know how to handle this well.
If she was acting like this a few years ago I would have been encouraging her to seek some help but as it is right now I know that her moodiness can be explained by the hormonal fluctuations. Is the drinking something that is also being caused by the menopause? I am kind of hoping this thing is just going to run its course soon enough but if the drinking is getting of control and it is not associated with the menopause then maybe I should encourage her to get some help. I have already tried just asking her to drink less and that didn’t go very well.
Delisted Expert Says ...
You are right in your rightful suspicion that menopause has been documented to be correlated with excessive drinking, mood swings, erratic changes in behavior and personality. I am going to refer you to some websites which can give you more specific, concrete examples and information for gaining a deeper insight into the relationship between menopause and excessive drinking. These websites are:
For the more visually and technically oriented, I would like to offer you an excellent video which addresses the complexities between menopause and alcohol abuse. This video can be found at http://www.ehow.com/video_4400912_the-effects-alcohol-menopause.html
As you will discover, sudden changes and fluctuations in a woman’s hormones can cause problems in clear thinking and moodiness. Alcohol use/abuse can ease the severity of this discomfort when women experience the stress(es) of the lives along with the onset of menopause. For many women, this life change is the first time, they have abused alcohol to self medicate themselves from the uneasiness associated with hormonal changes. One of the articles above notes that heavy drinking can hasten the onset of menopause up to five years. An unexpected factor discovered by some researches was a link between heavy drinking and cancer; specifically breast cancer. This research should grab the attention of most menopausal women who drink and who would like to prevent cancer.
As you can see, your wife is suffering from a medical condition which she is trying to treat herself. I would highly recommend that she consult with her doctor and discuss the problems she has been having. Your wife or you need to be frank with the physician and let the doctor know that she has been using alcohol excessively since she began menopause. Additionally, she may need to consult with a substance abuse program which considers “contributing factors” to her excessive drinking, not automatically apply the “disease model” and assume her main problem is substance abuse or early stages of alcoholism.
If your wife does not receive some medical help, I do not predict your family, your, or her situation will significantly improve. Therefore, I hope the information I have provided you will provide some assistance and guidance in this troubling situation.
If you need anything else from me, please let me know at your earliest convenience.
All the Best,
John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC