Alcohol Abuse and the Elderly

Alcohol – it can be used responsibility but it can also become a major health problem if abused. April is Alcohol Awareness Month and it was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma often associated with alcoholism. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. Millions of Americans suffer from alcoholism but because the line between moderate alcohol use and alcoholism can appear blurry, it can be difficult for some to distinguish between the two.

Alcohol abuse among the elderly can be particularly dangerous. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a survey found 40 percent of adults 65 years and older drink alcohol. Elderly people can be particularly at risk for mixing medications with alcohol, with can be extremely dangerous if not deadly. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications that mix badly with alcohol include aspirin, acetaminophen, cold and allergy medicine, sleeping pills, pain medication and others. According to NIAAA, adults over age 65 and healthy, who do not take any medications should not drink more than three drinks a day and seven in a week.

Seniors abusing alcohol may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Memory lapses
  • Unsteady gait
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased isolation
  • Poor hygiene
  • Disorientation
  • Shaky hands
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic boredom

If a loved one suffers from any the symptoms listed above please contact their doctor.

Seniors may be at an increased risk for alcohol abuse if they are:

  • Living alone
  • Have family history of alcohol abuse
  • Previous substance abuse
  • Chronic panic
  • Boredom

It’s never too late to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. If you suspect a loved one to be abusing alcohol there are recovery centers in Alaska that can help.


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