Guy with hands on head sitting down, looking dejected.

Why Alcohol Could Be the Cause of Your Mid-Life Crisis

Turn your mid-life crisis into a mid-life Renaissance

Guy with hands on head sitting down, looking dejected.
Photo by Nathan Cowley:

I wouldn’t go back on my old days, though; everybody needs to have their wild years. It’s just a question of when and I’d rather have had them early than be doing it as a mid-life crisis type thing. — Rob Lowe

How many times has this happened?

You get home from work and instead of going right inside, you find yourself sitting in the driveway for a few minutes to compose yourself.

You’re composing for the wave of responsibilities and chores that is going to hit you when you get inside that you’re not sure you can must up the courage to tackle.

What is the cause of this, you wonder, as you love your kids and wife more than anything, but everything just seems so “blah” right now?

You wonder what could be the issue.

Is it your marriage that just doesn’t seem to have the same passion that it did so long ago?

Is it the job that has become monotonous and a constant replaying of Groundhog day?

Is it just because when you were 20, this wasn’t what you pictured your life is at 40?

An endless array of driving the kids back and forth from sporting events and never enough time and money to feel comfortable and just relax.

While there’s no way of knowing exactly what is the cause of this feeling of depression without knowing all the circumstances, there is one thing you could look at to ensure it’s not the cause.

Your drinking.

How alcohol does this

Most people think a midlife crisis is what naturally occurs in our 40s.

It’s the age when we finally realize we might be on the back nine of this golf match called life and haven’t achieved everything we thought we would by this age.

What we don’t also do is look at our history of drinking and recognize there are a number of physiological and psychological things that have taken place that may have caused this feeling.

By the time we’ve reached 40, most of us have been drinking for anywhere from 18–22 years.

Over this time period, our body has subtly physiologically changed to the point that we need alcohol to reach our point of homeostasis.

How this happens is alcohol creates a need for itself by reducing our ability to naturally produce dopamine on our own because it has been doing it for us artificially for so long.

This causes us to feel we NEED to drink every day at 5 pm because our body releases the chemical dynorphin to pre-empt our usual behavior.

When our drinking has progressed to a certain level, we will experience a symptom known as anhedonia, in which we can no longer experience joy and happiness without alcohol.

This feeling is associated with depression and is very similar to what people would describe as experiencing a mid-life crisis.

The connection

Many people who develop a dependence on alcohol that seems to “creep” up on them fall into the category of what is known as the functional subtype.

This is the group of people who can drink alcohol daily/weekly and still function fine, with many of them holding prominent roles in their company or society.

Their “problem” with alcohol seems to come out of nowhere, in that one day they are okay, and then the next day, they NEED alcohol daily.

The average age of this group is 41 years.

Their heavy drinking over the use has caused them to develop something known as anhedonia.

Anhedonia is when your body actually loses the ability to create dopamine (and subsequently the feeling of joy and happiness) on its own because it’s so used to alcohol creating it.

People who have crossed over to this level are now searching for a way to get their ability to have simple joys in life from everyday things.

Alcohol takes this ability away from you, and instead of feeling happy and grateful about all the opportunities you have with your kids and family, you regret it.

You find that you can’t find joy in what used to excite you, and the feeling is that you need something else to bring back that excitement.

This could be depression.

This could be a mid-life crisis.

Or this could be alcohol.

Instead of adding more things to your life, what if the answer would be to remove something from your life?

For many, the answer is alcohol is this simple.

Alcohol often is seen as the only thing that is getting us through a depressing day when it really could be the thing that is causing our depression in the first place.

Science behind it

The science supports this by showing that 33% of all patients diagnosed with depression also are diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.

Conversely, 63.8% of patients with alcohol use disorder are also diagnosed with depression.

While it is believed that depression comes first and is exacerbated by alcohol, it has been hard to understand their relationship.

There is no doubt, however, as there is a major correlation between the amount of alcohol one drinks and their proclivity to demonstrate depressive symptoms.

In one study, individuals who reduced their drinking from a heavy amount to complete abstinence saw their depression symptoms reduced to normal levels within 2–3 weeks.

This cannot be a coincidence.

It has also been proven in studies that increased stress causes many people to drink more than they should, which can then lead to these depressive symptoms.

With this being the highest earning years of your life, the period right before 40 is a time of immense stress that could definitely lead to drinking more than one should up to this point.

How to transform it into a mid-life Renaissance instead

The easiest way is to stop drinking.

There is so much that life has to offer on the other side of alcohol that you should at least give it a shot.

The ironic concept of forty being the age that many people begin to experience a mid-life crisis is that it is also the age at which I believe EVERYONE should unequivocally stop drinking.

You just have too much to lose and not enough to gain from doing it.

For those who could use help, I always point to my concept, The MEDS, as a method to try.

If that doesn’t work, there are many other ways that you can become alcohol conscious, so don’t be discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

You have to find what suits you.

However, the one thing you can’t do is ignore it and think all is going to be well without changing your drinking behavior.

And even though it might prove a bit challenging at first, you’ll be surprised at how your body will adapt and your mid-life crisis can change into a mid-life resurgence to back the back-half of your life the best half.