Geriatric Alcoholism And Binge Drinking An Increasing Problem

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Geriatric Alcoholism And Binge Drinking An Increasing Problem

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health has found that “geriatric alcoholism” in adults aged 60 or more is an increasing problem. The study, which was conducted at the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, focused on changes in drinking habits in older adults from 1997 – 2014.

Researchers discovered that as years went by, alcohol use tended to increase. This trend was especially true for women, who became more likely to binge drink each year by 3.7%. Men’s binge drinking habits also increased, but at the lower percentage of .7%.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as achieving a blood alcohol level of .08 or above. This equates to about four or more units of alcohol for women and five or more units for men.

Risk Factors

An occasional drink doesn’t mean someone is an alcoholic. However, there are several risk factors that if present could potentially lead to abuse.

Environment. In environments in which drinking is accepted and part of the culture, people are more likely to drink. When friends, family, and society drinks, drinking becomes normalized.

Existing regular drinking habits. A lifetime of drinking, even moderately, is a predictor that drinking may become heavier in older adulthood when people begin to retire and have more time on their hands.

Family. A person who has parents or siblings who suffer from alcoholism has an increased likelihood of alcoholism.

Mental illness. Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, increase the likelihood that a person will engage in substance abuse.

Retirement is associated with major life changes, and some people may have difficulty coping. Retirement can result in idle time, financial troubles, and feelings of purposelessness. Those who are forced into early retirement are at the greatest risk for alcoholism.

And unfortunately, people entering their 60’s and beyond are also at a heightened risk for other health problems, which can be exacerbated by alcohol abuse. But anyone at any who is using alcohol at an increasing rate should be evaluated for alcoholism and treated as soon as possible.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A. Psychology


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