Binge drinking a problem for older adults too: study

Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:57pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Binge drinking is usually seen as a problem of college campuses but many older adults may be overindulging in alcohol as well, according to a U.S. study published on Monday.

Using data from a government survey of nearly 11,000 Americans aged 50 and up, researchers found that 23 percent of men and nine percent of women aged between 50 and 64 admitted to binge drinking in the past month.

Among adults age 65 and older, more than 14 percent of men and three percent of women reported bingeing on alcohol which was defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion, on at least one day in the past month.

Alcohol binges are often considered a problem of youth.

One recent government study found that among U.S. college students between the ages of 18 and 24, 45 percent reported a recent drinking binge.

But the new findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, show that older adults can be susceptible too, according to Reuters Health.

"We feel that our findings are important to the public health of middle-aged and elderly persons as they point to a potentially unrecognized problem that often 'flies beneath' the typical screen for alcohol problems in psychiatry practices," researcher Dan Blazer, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said in a statement.

Blazer and colleague Li-Tzy Wu based their findings on a national health survey conducted between 2005 and 2006.

Along with binge drinking, the survey looked at so-called at-risk drinking -- drinking habits that could have negative effects on a person's health.   Continued...