Drinking problems in Seniors

Problem Drinking in Seniors – Risk factors

Articles, Education, Understanding Addiction, United States

A research team at the University of Georgia have reported In the American Geriatrics Society Journal that seniors (1600 individuals aged 57-85) with chronic health issues as well as depression, were at a much higher risk of developing an alcohol problem.

It is believed that this research is the first time a link has been identified between chronic health problems, with depression, and problem drinking seniors.

The researchers found that seniors who have numerous health conditions as well as depression, were actually 5 times more likely to develop a drinking problem when compared to seniors with numerous health conditions and no depression. The summary of this discussion, which can be found here, stated:

“’These findings suggest that effective training in screening and referral for mental health and alcohol use issues for health care providers of older adults may better serve the approximate 4 million older adults who currently experience problem drinking in the U.S.,’ said Orion Mowbray, assistant professor at the UGA School of Social Work and lead author of the study.”

When you add these findings to the fact that often seniors will usually develop a greater sensitivity to the effects of alcohol as they get older, and also they are often taking many different types of prescription medications for their health conditions that have a risk of reacting adversely when combined with alcohol, it is very important for seniors, and of course, those that care for them, to watch their drinking intake and exercise caution.

The findings in the study suggest that effective training can be put in place for health care providers when screening and referring older adults for mental health or alcohol use issues. This may better serve the 4 million seniors who currently experience drinking problems in the US.

There is sufficient evidence that suggest even a brief intervention delivered by health care providers can have a positive effect on reducing problem drinking amongst seniors.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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