Binge Drinking in Adults More Prevalent than Thought

The associations between young people and binge drinking or the excessive and frequent intake of alcohol are strong and seemingly omnipresent. Through the efforts of marketing officials at major alcoholic beverage companies, youths are often targeted as the ideal customers for beer, liquor, and spirits, and ideas about heavy drinking in college or among young professionals help to bolster the notion that binge drinking is a problem experienced well before middle age. But this focus on the connection between young people and binge drinking may be ignoring an important truth: those entering their senior years may be considerable participants in binge drinking as well. To check up on the drinking habits of older adults, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health analyzed data from thousands of Americans concerning their intake habits.

The results found that a considerable amount of people aged 50 to 64 were involved with at-risk drinking, which was defined as the intake of two or more drinks per day. Among men in this age range, 22% reported such frequent alcohol use, while 9% of female respondents were associated with the trend. The research suggests that those people who are anticipating their later years may be more inclined to drink than has traditionally been thought, and greater measures may need to be explored to help mitigate the risks of the issue.

In particular, more extensive medical screening and greater access to psychological support should be available for older adults, according to medical professionals concerned about drinking’s potential to conflict with the efficacy of geriatric care. A greater attention to the physical and mental needs of older adults may be key to providing more comprehensive and realistic care on every front.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Katrina Wilson

    Katrina Wilson

    September 6th, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    i can’t tell you how many stories i’ve heard from clients and friends of their elderly family members drinking themselves slowly to death in their later years… i think some habits never change and particularly with older generations, who are less likely to express their feelings, it’s easy to fall into the trap of drinking one’s sorrows away.

  • Crew

    Crew

    September 7th, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    Youngsters drink, and their parents control them . But there is nobody to control or to restrict older people… they are in-charge, they have all the freedom they want and can do just anything. This is one of the foremost reason to adults getting into binge drinking. Why,some even do it to be like the youngsters… Whichever way it is, it is not a healthy sign and steps need to be taken to control this fad.

  • Norma

    Norma

    September 7th, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    There are so many things going on in this age bracket after 50 that I guess we should not be surprised to hear that binge drinking affects this age group too. Think about it. Not only are some of these people experiencing fears about their own legacy and mortality, they are also dealing with that of their parents and in laws as well as the proverbial mid life crises that we have all heard about and may have even experienced. And I completely agree that while binge drinking is looked down upon when it is teens and young adults doing the drinking there are far fewer of us who will say anything to stop an adult who is just trying to drown his sorrows. Looks like there is never a good time to loosen the reins.

  • Samuel

    Samuel

    September 7th, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    Not all those 50 something binge drinkers suddenly took it up in mid life because of the pressures they faced in that age bracket. They are the by product of those long forgotten youth campaigns decades ago. They just never stopped.

  • Nafal

    Nafal

    September 7th, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    Work pressure, combined with family problems and a mind wanting to be more ‘young’ are the reason that push people of this age group to binge drinking. Self-introspection is very important.

  • HarrietR

    HarrietR

    September 7th, 2009 at 3:16 PM

    Of course the companies keep targeting the youth. They need them to replace the older drinkers they are killing off.

  • Wanderer

    Wanderer

    September 7th, 2009 at 4:24 PM

    The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes. -William James

    Nothing lies to you as much as a drunken thought.

  • Renee

    Renee

    September 8th, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    I watched my father go through this and it was as a result of behavior that he had kept hidden for years while we were all growing up and then when we were all out of the house he started right back up with the drinking again. Empty nest syndrome drove him to it? Who knows. But it made his later years quite miserable for all of us. Who ever expects that at 40 you will get a phone call in the middle of the night to come pick your dad up from a bar because he has had too much to drink? You think this will happen with your children sometime in the future but never your own parent.

  • Irene

    Irene

    September 9th, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    A friend of mine lost a college age son two years ago due to a bout with binge drinking. It has torn her apart. I can only imagine how the same would be true to experince that with older family members too. We do not think about alcohol being as deadly as it has the potential to be. We think of it as a harmless way to let down our guard and relieve some stress. That really is so far from the truth of what alcohol abuse can actually be.

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