Heavy Drinking Taking a Toll on Older Americans
In light of data suggesting that heavy drinking is increasing among adults over age 65 at alarming rates, The New York Times took a closer look at the consequences for older people who struggle with heavy drinking.
The nation’s sharp decline in cardiovascular disease and strokes has begun to level off. Emergency room visits for alcohol-related falls, particularly disabling for seniors, have increased.
So have deaths from liver cirrhosis. “It’s the first time we’ve seen those rates go up since the 1960s,” Dr. [Bridget Grant, an epidemiologist at N.I.A.A.A.] said. “It’s shocking.”
One barrier to treatment, researchers posit, is an assumption that older adults "can’t or won’t" change their behavior. But the facts show treatment is possible:
With treatment, older adults have the same or better success rates as younger drinkers. In a study by [Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction at the University of Pennsylvania], and colleagues, seniors were far more likely to adhere to treatment. Although 40 percent relapsed during the 12-week trial, nearly two-thirds of younger patients did.
“The problem is getting them into treatment,” Dr. Oslin said of older patients.