Alcohol Misuse in Older People: What Does the Research Say?

Alcohol misuse and addiction can occur at any age. However, it can sometimes become more common when a person ages. Older adults who had their alcohol use under control at a younger age might succumb to full-blown alcoholism in retirement.

You can look for rehab near me if you feel an older relative is having problems with alcohol. It’s also helpful to know what the research says about this phenomenon, so let’s talk about that now.

There Are Genetic Factors that Play a Part

Genetic factors often play a part in whether someone struggles with alcohol or drug use throughout their life. If you have several individuals in your family who have had these issues, it makes it more likely you will deal with them as well.

That can be true at any age. Since cognitive decline is more likely as someone ages, though, alcohol misuse in older adults can be even more detrimental than it might be when they are younger.

Loneliness Can Sometimes Dictate Whether This Behavior

Becomes an Issue

Loneliness can also be a factor with alcohol misuse in older adults. Maybe you have an aging individual who does not have as many friends as they once did. Perhaps they have lost touch with some people in their friend group, or maybe others have died. They might also have lost a spouse or partner.

If they are lonely, that can lead to them drinking more. This is true for alcohol use, but feelings of isolation can also lead to the abuse of other drugs. The substances can dull the pain of feeling alone or unwanted.

The Structure of Work Might Be a Mitigating Factor

Research also indicates that someone retiring can play a part in why they start drinking more. Imagine you have someone who likes drinking alcohol, but they are not what you would call a problem drinker. They like to have a drink or two when they get home from work. They might refer to this as their cocktail hour or happy hour.

This person might retire, though, and now, they don’t need to stay sober for work. Where they might have had a cocktail when they got home from work in the evening, they can now start drinking at noon if they like.

If they no longer have any responsibilities, they can become more liberal with their alcohol use. The next thing you know, they might have a serious drinking problem.

With older adults, these factors can also commingle. You may have someone who retires, so now they’re drinking more because they don’t have to stay sober for work. They also don’t have as many friends as they once did, and perhaps their spouse died. They also have a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism.

This formula almost guarantees an older adult will have an alcohol problem. Still, nothing is preordained. Even older adults with plenty of reason to drink can avoid doing so with willpower and the proper intervention from individuals who care about them.

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