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Successful Agers and Harmful Drinking

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The conversation about harmful drinking is most often directed towards young adults, usually considered to be at the highest risk. However, problematic drinking behavior is a problem where people in every age group are at risk. New research suggests that people over the age of 50 are at greater risk of harmful alcohol consumption, Medical News Today reports. The findings do not exclude those who are: healthy, active, sociable and wealthy.

Successful Agers

Harmful drinking may be a “hidden health and social problem” among “successful agers,” according to study author Prof. José Iparraguirre, of the Research Department at Age UK. Professor Iparraguirre sought to find out the factors behind harmful drinking. The findings indicated that people who led more successful and healthy lives were at a greater risk of harmful drinking in their 50’s, according to the article.

Financially stable women had a higher risk of harmful drinking than those with lower incomes. Factors associated with harmful drinking among men and women included:

  • Good Health
  • Higher Education
  • Smoking
  • Living Alone (men)
  • Divorced (men)

A Middle Class Phenomenon

Harmful drinking among people over the age of 50 and older is a “middle class phenomenon,” according to Prof. Iparraguirre. He adds:

“Our findings suggest that harmful drinking in later life is more prevalent among people who exhibit a lifestyle associated with affluence and with a ‘successful’ aging process. Harmful drinking may then be a hidden health and social problem in otherwise successful older people. Consequently, and based on our results, we recommend the explicit incorporation of alcohol drinking levels and patterns into the successful aging paradigm.”

The findings were published in BMJ Open.

The Effects of Alcohol In America

In the United States, around 16.6 million adults have an alcohol use disorder and more than 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes every year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that often requires treatment to begin the journey of recovery. If you are struggling with alcohol, please contact Design for Change.

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