Tolerance Equals More Consumption for Older Problem Drinkers

Adults over age 60 who have alcohol problems tend to drink more than their younger counterparts, probably because they have developed greater tolerance for alcohol, according to researchers at Ohio State University.

Science Daily reported Nov. 21 that a study found that alcohol-dependent individuals over age 60 consumed an average of more than 40 drinks per week, compared to 25-35 among younger people with similar levels of dependence. Researchers said that older drinkers developed tolerance for alcohol, meaning they had to drink more to get the same effects.

The older drinkers also reported more monthly binge-drinking episodes. “A combination of high levels of drinking and the physiological effects of aging are particularly problematic for older adults,” noted researcher Linda Ginzer.

Younger Americans were still more likely to have drinking problems than older Americans, however.

Researchers found that binge drinking was more common among Americans classified as alcohol abusers than among those who were heavy drinkers but not seen as problem drinkers. “That suggests binge drinking may be a better measure of problem drinking than just the total amount of drinks someone has per week,” Ginzer said.

The findings, drawn on findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, were unveiled at a recent meeting of the Gerontological Society of America

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