Self Medicating Over 50: 1 in 5 Turn to Alcohol to Cope
A recent report from the United Kingdom’s Drink Wise, Age Well organization found that people over 50 are self medicating with alcohol in increasing numbers. Moreover, 1-in-5 are now turning to alcohol for comfort, and affecting their health in the process. The following reasons were cited:
- Difficulty coping with retirement and loneliness
- Suffering from bereavement, grief over death of loved ones
- Depression and loss of purpose
- Less chances to socialize
- Financial changes
Persons who experience any of these issues are 4 times more likely to engage in alcoholism.
The data was collected on nearly 17,000 persons. To date, it is the largest and most comprehensive study which examines the alcohol self medicating habits of persons over 50,
The report appealed to the government to address this issue. Indeed, the UK’s National Health Service actually spends more on alcohol treatment for those 55-74 than those under 24.
What is High-Risk Drinking?
In the study, high-risk was defined as 50 units for men per week, and 35 for women. Since that time, it has been decreased to only 14 units for either.
For those looking to relate units to real life, Drinkaware has a unit and calorie counter on the website. But in general, 14 units = 6 pints of beer, 6 glasses of wine, or 14 shots of spirits.
Of those who reported drinking over the weekly limit, 83% claimed that no one had told them they should quit or cut back.
Forty percent of those who drank more than 21 units (men) or 14 units (women) said that retirement was to blame. They just generally have more time on their hands.
Twenty-six percent said bereavement was the reason for their uptick in drinking. Twenty percent said it was a loss of purpose. Socializing less and financial changes both came in at 18% each.