December 22, 2016
1 min read

Alcohol abuse rises among older adults in US

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From 2005 to 2013, prevalence of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders increased among older adults in the U.S.

“Older adults have particular vulnerabilities to alcohol due to physiological changes during aging, including increasing chronic disease burden and medication use,” Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, of New York University Langone Medical Center, said in a press release. “However, no recent studies have estimated trends in alcohol use, including binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders among older adults.”

Benjamin Han

To assess trends in problematic alcohol use among adults, researchers analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2005 to 2014.

From 2005-2006 to 2013-2014, prevalence of past-month binge alcohol use increased 19.2% (P < .001), and alcohol use disorder prevalence increased 23.3% (P = .035) among adults aged 50 years and older.

Men had a higher prevalence of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorder compared with females; however, both significantly increased among females during the study period.

Adjusted models of aggregated data indicated being Hispanic, male and a smoker or illicit drug user were associated with binge alcohol use.

Being male, a smoker, illicit drug user, reporting past-year depression or mental health treatment were associated with alcohol use disorder.

“Health care providers need to be made aware of this increasing trend of unhealthy alcohol use, particularly among older females, and ensure that screening for unhealthy alcohol use is part of regular medical care for this population,” Han said in the release. – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.