Alcohol dependency can develop at any age – but researchers recently sought to understand if those over 60 might be at a higher risk for developing a problem.
To conduct their study, researchers looked at gender and age-specific trends in a population of older Americans from 1997 through 2014.
As the years increase, alcohol abuse tends to increase – particularly among women.
How do we define alcohol abuse in this instance?
Any manner of drinking that raises blood alcohol concentration to or above 0.08 g/dl. This means four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
One clear sign of a problem – the consistent consumption of five alcoholic drinks in a day.
So who is most at risk?
Well, it appears there are a number of risk factors that may help predict a drinking problem as we age. They include:
· Family history: If you have or had a family member with a history of alcoholism, you may be at a higher risk of abusing it yourself. There is evidence that there are genetic components to the problem.
· Depression and other mental health issues: Evidence suggests that if you are suffering from chronic depression or struggle with persistent anxiety, you may be at a greater risk of becoming alcohol dependent.
· Prior alcohol use: If you were a regular consumer of alcohol when younger, you have an increased likelihood of abusing alcohol as you age.
Are their certain events that can trigger alcohol dependency? Yes. Researchers point to several. They include:
· Retirement. Turns out that retirement can be a major trigger – particularly if retirement is forced or early. Some find that retirement brings feelings of boredom, isolation, and worthlessness which in turn leads to depression and alcohol abuse.
· Loss of a loved one. Loss of a partner or old friends often increases an older person’s sense of isolation and despair – which in turn can lead to depression and alcohol abuse.
· Chronic pain. It has been widely reported that chronic pain is a major contributor to the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. Chronic pain is also known to trigger alcohol dependency.
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