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Older Adults, Alcohol and Other Drugs
Overview of a Hidden Killer

Seniors, those 60 and older, are the fastest growing population in the United States and around the world.  Although older adults are sometimes believed to have the lowest rates of alcohol dependence as an age cohort, the prevalence of alcohol misuse and dependence in this group is clearly underestimated.  When alcoholism rates among elders are expanded to include other drug dependence, both legal and illegal, the percentages go up!  Under-diagnosis in older adults of this debilitating and deadly illness is due to a number of factors including:

Under-diagnosis of problem drinking in older adults is particularly unfortunate because the risks associated with alcohol dependence and relapse for the elderly are significant.   Medical experts advise that alcohol must be used with particular caution by older adults because they are more likely than young or middle-age adults to have health problems and to use medications that become dangerous or deadly when mixed with alcohol.  

With regard to social/leisure functioning, there is consistent evidence that older problem drinkers tend to have social/leisure problems in the form of loneliness and low social support, fewer social resources, lower social integration, lower satisfaction with relationships and social isolation/few satisfying leisure activities. In addition, alcohol-related problems have been associated with living alone and with being widowed/separated/divorced/single.  These isolation factors make detection very difficult until the disease has reached an advanced stage.
Tragically, many elders lose their “golden years” to alcoholism and chemical dependency, diseases that are very treatable.  If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, please call (415) 717-3675 for information and help.  The call costs nothing; the information you receive invaluable~

(First is a series of articles on Chemical Dependency in Older Adults)