More Older Adults Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Americans ages 50 and older are more likely to seek treatment for alcoholism than any other drug addiction. Because older men are particularly at risk of problem drinking, they made up the largest group of individuals seeking alcohol addiction treatment.

Specific study findings are as follows:

  • 48 percent of the 164,000 Americans ages 50 and older that sought addiction treatment in 2003 were seeking help for alcoholism.
  • 80 percent of these individuals in alcohol rehab were men.

    45 percent were first-time participants in an alcohol rehab program.
    In many cases, older adults are reluctant to admit having an alcohol problem, and are even more resistant to the idea of getting help for alcoholism on their own.

"Too often, family members are ashamed of the problem and choose not to address it. Healthcare providers tend not to ask older patients about alcohol abuse if it wasn't a problem in their lives in earlier years," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie. "That may help explain why so many of the alcohol-related admissions to treatment among older adults are for first-time treatment, even though we know that treatment works well at every age."


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