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Alcohol Abuse, One Step Closer to the ER

September 11, 2019  · 2 min read

Despite the fact that considerable scientific evidence had already been amassed on the danger of alcoholism, increasing numbers of older adults drink to excess.

A recent study carried out by researchers from New York University and University of California San Diego found that, from 2015 to 2017, more than one in ten (10.6%) U.S. adults aged 65 and older engaged in binge drinking (consuming five alcoholic beverages or more on the same occasion for men, and four alcoholic beverages or more for women) in the past month, a significant increase compared to the data reported in 2007-2008 (7.7%).  

Excessive alcohol consumption is a risky behavior for older adults due to the potential of disease exacerbation, harmful interactions with prescription medications, and the increased risk of falling and emergency visits. The research also determined that binge drinkers are more likely to be cannabis users, and “...using both may lead to higher impairment effects... and older adults may not be aware of the possible dangers of using cannabis with alcohol,” said Dr Joseph Palamar, the associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health.

Lack of awareness of harms associated with alcohol abuse also widely exists in Canada. A recent CBC News article disclosed that although more than one million Canadians experience alcohol use disorder annually, less importance was attributed to patient advice and addiction treatment by family doctors because of the alcoholism-related stigma.

"Our results underscore the importance of educating, screening, and intervening to prevent alcohol-related harms in older adults, who may not be aware of their heightened risk for injuries and how alcohol can exacerbate chronic diseases," said Benjamin Han, the lead author of the U.S. binge drinking study among older adults.

For more information on the impact of alcohol abuse on older person, contact IFA Expert Dr. Madeline Naegle, Professor and Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Geriatric Nursing Education at Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York University, whose research has focused on alcohol use disorders and the nursing intervention in the prevention and treatment of substance use abuse.

Barriers to older people’s access to alcohol addiction services have not received the attention they deserve. Attending the IFA 15th Global Conference on Ageing under the sub-theme “Access to Health and Social Services” will help address this issue.  

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