Is alcohol abuse rising among older adults?

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism last month reported a disturbing trend: Problem drinking is rising fast among older Americans. Their study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, each time with about 40,000 adults. Drinking had increased in every age group, the researchers found. Those over 65 remained far less likely to drink than younger people — about 55 percent of older participants told interviewers they’d imbibed in the past year. Still, that was a 22 percent increase over the two periods, the greatest rise in any age group.

“Alcohol use disorders” (alcoholism), has more than doubled in a decade, afflicting over 3 percent of older people, and the proportion of older adults engaged in “high-risk drinking” jumped 65 percent, to 3.8 percent.

Why this spike in late-life drinking? Dr. Grant’s team didn’t investigate causes, but she speculates that anxiety caused by the recession, which hit right between the two surveys, may have played a part. I myself have noticed that, since I retired, I am drinking more. A lot of this is because I don;t have to go to work tomorrow, so why not have a beer or two?

What do you all think? Boredom, freedom, anxiety. Let us know in the comments.

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