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Baby Boomers Still Binge Drinking

posted 11:59 PM EST, Thu September 03, 2009
Baby Boomers Still Binge Drinking © Photo Credit: Loving Earth

Duke University researchers say that baby boomers and those 65+ are binge drinking in high numbers.

Researchers out of Duke University Medical Center say that while binge drinking college students may get all the attention, that Americans of all ages, including the baby boomers and even adults above 64, are binge drinking in substantial numbers.

They also say that since many of these binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent, health practitioners rarely notice or intervene, even though binge drinking can be dangerous - especially for older adults.

Duke researchers, Dr. Dan Blazer and associate professor, Li-Tzy Wu, evaluated national health survey data collected from 11 000 Americans between 2005 and 2008 to come up with binge drinking prevalence rates for people over the age of 50.

They found that for those over 50, almost a quarter of men (23%) and 9% of women admitted to past month binge drinking, and for those 65 and up, a very substantial 14% of men and 3% of women also admitted to binge drinking within 30 days of being surveyed.

The Duke researchers also evaluated the population data for at-risk drinkers, older adults who consumed 2 or more drinks daily, on average. They found that for those between the ages of 50-64, 19% of men and 13% of women were at risk and for those older than 65, 13% of men and 8% of women were at risk.

Dr. Blazer says that many doctors don’t spot unhealthy drinking practices amongst older adults, partly because they ask the wrong questions, asking when a person last drank, instead of how much they drank when they last imbibed.

He says that while binge drinking can have consequences at any age, baby boomers and older adults are likely putting themselves at greater risk of harm, due to medicine interaction effects and the health complications that result from an older adult's weakened immunities.

He says, "People need to know that sitting down and drinking five cocktails or seven or eight beers is not without consequence. It's a condition that could fly under the radar, but it can lead to problems."

The research was partly funded by NIDA and the results are published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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