Older People Are Binge Drinkers, Too
Researchers Say Alcohol Use Expected to Increase Among Aging Baby Boomers and Older People
Aug. 17, 2009 -- Older people as well as aging baby boomers may be turning
to booze and binge drinking, a new study shows.
The study raises significant concerns, researchers say, because doctors
often overlook drinking habits, which can be harmful to individual health and
Duke University scientists, who analyzed data of nearly 11,000 middle-aged
and elderly adults from the 2005 and 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and
Health, report in the American Journal of Psychiatry that:
- 14% of men and 3% of women 65 or older admit to binge drinking -- defined
as quaffing five or more alcoholic beverages on a single
occasion within the past 30 days.
- Among 50-64-year-olds, 23% of men and 9% of women admitted to binge
- Bingeing and at-risk alcohol use was more common among people 50 to 64 than
those in the older group.
- Among males, binge drinking was associated with higher income, being
separated, divorced, or widowed while being unemployed.
- Among women, non-medical use of prescription drugs was associated with bingeing.
- Bingeing also was associated among all those studied with the use of
tobacco and illicit drugs.
- Men in both groups are more likely than women to binge drink.
The researchers also point out that previous work has shown that binge
drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive while impaired than people who don't
Alcohol use and problem drinking are expected to increase among middle-aged
and older people in coming years, the researchers say.
"We feel that our findings are important to the public health of middle-aged
and elderly persons as they point to a potentially unrecognized problem that
often 'flies beneath' the typical screen for alcohol problems in psychiatry
practices," Dan G. Blazer, MD, PhD, of Duke University, says in a news release.
"Clinicians who work with this age group would be well advised to ask
specifically about binge drinking."