The typical profiles of excessive drinkers may be shifting in our society. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, binge drinking among people 65 years and older is increasing. The study states that between 2001 and 2013, there was a 106.7% rise in alcohol use disorder among the elderly population. 

A total of 10,927 individuals participated in the study and the findings included:

  • 10.6% met the criteria for being regular binge drinkers
  • Men were more likely than women to be binge drinkers
  • Tobacco and marijuana smokers were more likely to be binge drinkers
  • Elderly people with a lower education were more likely to binge drink
  • African Americans in this demographic were more likely to binge drink
  • Elderly people are at a high risk for falls and complicated disease symptoms from binge drinking.

What is Binge Drinking?

For the purposes of this study, researchers used the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s standard for binge drinking, which is:

  • Four drinks for women within two hours
  • Five drinks for men within two hours
  • For both genders, whatever amount raises blood alcohol level to 0.08 g/dL

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking disorder may be present in one in six adults in the United States. Some of the criteria for alcohol use disorder include binge drinking at least four times a month. This binge drinking would mean consuming seven or more drinks per episode.

Elderly Adults Binge Drinking More Frequently

Alcohol addiction in the elderly appears to be increasing. The study does not provide a conclusion about the motivation for drinking but their cited statistics do drill down to socioeconomic status, education and race. The increased prevalence of binge drinking among people who smoke tobacco or marijuana may also be an important factor. The study indicates that people who met the criteria for binge drinking were less likely to have diseases. The researchers proposed that dynamic could be because people with diseases are more likely to quit drinking alcohol. 

There are multiple dangers of binge drinking, including:

  • Hangovers and gastrointestinal issues
  • Blacking out
  • Falling
  • Immune suppression
  • Dementia
  • Anemia
  • Liver problems
  • Neurological issues
  • Depression
  • Seizures

Elderly people are already at an increased risk for disease, due to their age. Excessive alcohol use may present additional risks or change the timeline for the development of diseases.

Warning Signs of Binge Drinking

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are multiple warning signs of binge drinking. Signs of binge drinking in elderly people may include signs, such as:

  • Inability to limit the amount of alcohol they drink
  • Drinking every day
  • Not succeeding when they try to reduce alcohol consumption
  • Time spent buying or drinking alcohol
  • Time spent hungover or recovering from alcohol abuse
  • Changes in social behavior or hobbies
  • Drinking when it is clearly unsafe
  • Withdrawal symptoms

The signs of a binge drinking problem in an elderly person should be taken seriously, as they may be evidence of alcohol use disorder.

Help for Binge Drinking and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction in the elderly should be met with compassion and the right care. If you suspect that a relative or friend needs treatment for alcoholism, there are many options you can direct them toward. Experts at any of these locations can help guide you as you direct a loved one toward alcohol addiction treatment.

Where to get help for binge drinking:

If you or a loved one have become trapped in the downward spiral of addiction, whether to alcohol or any other substance, recognizing the problem and asking for help are the first critical steps to recovery. We encourage you to learn more about our admissions at any time. There is no obligation, and we stand ready to offer a helping hand.