Key Takeaways

  • Explore information on misuse and abuse of alcohol in older adults, and recommendations on screening, prevention, intervention, and treatment methods.

  • This series was commissioned by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Administration on Aging (AoA).

  • Find ways to spot problem alcohol use and link older adults to screening and treatment.

Problem drinking among adults 60 and older often goes unrecognized and/or untreated. One barrier: the standard diagnostic criteria for abuse or dependence can be difficult to apply. And surveys that set out to measure the problem yield inconsisent results due to a lack of uniformity for such terms as 'older adults.' 'at-risk or problem drinking,' and 'alcohol abuse/dependence.'

Despite a lack of a clear number of older adults in the U.S. who struggle with alcohol problems, behavioral experts agree that the number of such people experiencing substance misuse or abuse represents "a growing and vulnerable population."

The good news: effective, evidence-based interventions are available.

Read this NCOA issue brief to:

  • Learn about the signs of alcohol-related problems
  • Understand the common link between problem drinking and depression and anxiety
  • Find ways to help older adults who have alcohol problems
  • Share resources with other professionals and consumers