Chronic Health Conditions and Depression Contribute to Problem Drinking in Older Adults

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Rehab for Men, Alcoholism| Older adults (including baby boomers) experiencing multiple chronic health conditions and depression are nearly five times as likely to be problem drinkers as older adults with the same conditions and no depression.

Older Adult Problems from Alcohol Use

| Senior adults most negatively effected by alcohol use include those who:

• Take certain medications
• Have chronic health problems
• Drink heavily

It has been recommended that as a part of complete medical treatment for older adults, physicians ask more questions during patient appointments. Helpful areas of inquiry by medical professionals have been suggested to include functional alcoholism, alcoholism indicators and treatment, new information on binge drinking, new studies that indicate moderate drinking can cause damage to the brain and co-occurring indicators of prescription opioid dependence.

Types of Problem Drinker?

Older adults’ alcohol use should be considered as spanning a spectrum from abstinence to dependence rather than falling into rigid categories.

Studies suggest three ways of categorizing older adults’ problem-drinking:

  • Early onset (age 20+) versus late onset drinking (age 50+)
  • Continuous versus intermittent drinking
  • Binge drinking.

Early onset drinkers tend to have longstanding alcohol-related problems that generally begin before age 40, most often in the 20s and 30s. In contrast, late onset drinkers generally experience their first alcohol-related problems after age 40 or 50 (; Liberto and Oslin, 1995; Atkinson et al., 1990).

How Much Alcohol is Too Much for Older Adults?

The same amount of alcohol that previously had little effect can cause intoxication in senior adults (Smith, 1995; ). This often results in increased sensitivity and decreased tolerance to alcohol as people age (Rosin and Glatt, 1971).

Aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol.  Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. Researchers speculate that the change in relative alcohol content – combined with the slower reaction times frequently observed in older adults – may be responsible for some of the accidents and injuries that plague this age group (Bucholz et al., 1995; ; ). From Substance Abuse Among Older Adults.

In the Physician’s Guide to Helping Patients With Alcohol Problems, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers recommendations for low-risk drinking. For individuals over the age of 65, NIAAA recommends “no more than one drink per day” ().

For Healthy Adults Age 65 and Older, Recommended Alcohol Consumption

  • No more than one drink per day.
  • Maximum of two drinks on any drinking occasion (New Year’s Eve, weddings).
  • Somewhat lower limits for women.

The goal is to foster sensible drinking that avoids health risks. The purpose in promoting these limits is to establish a “safety zone” for healthy older adults who drink. A standard drink is one can (12 oz.) of beer or ale; a single shot (1.5 oz.) of hard liquor; a glass (5 oz.) of wine; or a small glass (4 oz.) of sherry, liqueur, or aperitif.

Older men and women who do not have serious or unstable medical problems and are not taking psychoactive medications are unlikely to incur problems with alcohol if they adhere to these guidelines.

Research: Older Adults Depression, Health Issues and Problem Drinking

Researchers looked at more than 1,600 individuals aged 57 to 85 who identified as active alcohol consumers. The study was published October 2016 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society: Problem drinking and depression in older adults with multiple chronic health conditions.

The study utilized data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, a nationwide survey of older adults funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Among problem drinkers, or individuals who reported a high amount of negative consequences associated with alcohol use, the researchers found that more than half—66 percent—reported having multiple chronic health conditions, or MCC. Symptoms of depression were found in  28 percent of those participating. The researchers found that older adults who experienced MCC combined with depression were those who experienced the highest likelihood of problem drinking.

Older Adults Alcohol Consumption Hazards

Three age-related changes significantly affect the way an older person responds to alcohol:

  • Decrease in body water
  • Increased sensitivity and decreased tolerance to alcohol
  • Decrease in the metabolism of alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract.

As lean body mass decreases with age, total body water also decreases while fat increases. Because alcohol is water-soluble and not fat-soluble, this change in body water means that, for a given dose of alcohol, the concentration of alcohol in the blood system is greater in an older person than in a younger person.

How to Get Help for Problem Drinking and Alcoholism

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Boomer Men's Rehab, Prescott AZArrowhead Lodge Recovery is a gender specific rehab for men, ages 30 and older; located in the beautiful mountains of Prescott, Arizona. We provide addiction and depression treatment for men who suffer from alcoholism; as well as treating co-occurring disorders.

Our average client age is 45-65; baby boomers welcome!

We use a multi-disciplinary addiction treatment approach implemented by licensed professionals. The Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Staff includes a Physician-Addictionologist, Addiction Psychiatrist, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Registered Nurse, several Licensed Therapists, and an addiction Nutritionist.

Mindfulness training, healthy exercise, nutritional counseling and educationcognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducation are a part of our treatment program. We have chosen to keep our facility small and staff to client ratio large. Each client receives individual therapy and counseling; as well as group therapy and counseling.

Chronic Alcoholism Treatment Program

Arrowhead-Lodge-Recovery,Men's Rehab Group Therapy, Prescott AZThe experienced, licensed and accredited Arrowhead Lodge Recovery staff allows us to help men with chronic alcoholism for whom previous treatment attempts may have failed.

We assist our clients in finding their personal connection to the spiritual. Through years of experience, we believe in the power of spirituality in the addiction healing process. We assist our clients in discovering their unique path to living a more authentic and joyful life. See our article on Mindfulness Meditation – The 10th Step.

Impaired Professionals Well-Being Program

We have an Impaired Professionals well-being program. If you are monitored by a board that oversees your professional license and requires an assessment, addiction treatment, or both – our Impaired Professionals Well-Being Program provides solutions.

Alcoholism Recovery Journey to Wholeness and Healing

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Mens Rehab, Thumb Butte Trail

At our mountain retreat facility near Prescott, Arizona – men find and strengthen inner peace, and experience tranquility.

We equip our clients with the depth and stability to handle all the curves and disappointments – as well as joys – in their regular daily lives once they leave Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.

Start your journey to alcohol recovery by contacting Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.

Your confidentiality is assured when you contact us.

Speak personally and privately with Executive Director Dr. Kenneth Chance at (888) 654-2800.

Related Info:

Functional Alcoholics – Family Impact, Hidden Trauma
Well Being Recovery Program for Professionals
Impaired Professionals Addiction Recovery
Impaired Professionals Comprehensive Evaluation and Assessment
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery – 5 Year Continuum of Care Model
Mindfulness in Addiction Treatment
How Addiction Hijacks the Brain – Mindfulness Restores Sobriety
Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain
Harvard MRI Study Evidence of Meditation’s Cognitive Benefits
Mindfulness Meditation – The 10th Step
Functional Alcoholics – Family Impact, Hidden Trauma

How Addiction Hijacks the Brain – Mindfulness Restores Sobriety
Impaired Professionals in Medicine
Airline Pilot Rehab – Impaired Professionals Recovery
Impaired Professionals: Legal Profession
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Aftercare: SoberLink Clinical Monitoring  

 

 

 

 

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