We’ve heard that drinking is becoming a problem for an unsuspecting age group – those over 50. Is this true? And if it IS true, what explains it? Annie answers this inquiry by confirming that yes – the demographic statistics of problematic drinking is not limited to those in college or their 20’s or 30’s, etc. Annie shares a few of the theories surrounding this and sheds light on the physiology related to the effects of alcohol as our bodies age.

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Older Drinkers On THe Rise

There was a study that came out by it was published in JAMA psychiatry in 2017 and high-risk drinking rose 65 percent among older adults. Older adults abuse and dependence on alcohol more than doubled. Now what’s also interesting is that women rose about 58 percent. Alcohol – high risk drinking is just skyrocketing. The study also found that problem drinking has increased across all age levels so we are seeing things now that we haven’t seen pretty much ever in terms of our alcohol consumption as a society.


The highest increases are among older drinkers. There’s a lot of theories as to why this is and a few are that people in their 60s and 70s these days are actually less frail than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. So even in their 50s these older drinkers just continue their drinking patterns. Whereas before alcohol affects you more and more over time and with time and so before people would be frailer, they were less healthy, living less than they were before and so alcohol would affect them more drastically and they would quit sooner.

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Empty Nest

I also think that there’s a huge contribution to just how accepted alcohol is in our society. Especially with empty nest syndrome. So the kids go out of the house and all of a sudden as older drinkers we no longer have to limit ourselves. We’re self medicating away the anxiety and depression of our children leaving home.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License