Alcohol Study Lists Surprising Age Group As Most At Risk — It’s Not Teens

A new study on alcohol has revealed statistics as to what demographic is most at risk for succumbing to the dangers involved with over-imbibing, and the results are a bit surprising.

The alcohol study was published in the online journal BMJ Open, and it states that older individuals that are classified as “successful” are most at risk when it comes to problems with alcohol; by successful, the study states that those individuals who are 50 years of age or older, well-educated, and possess sufficient personal financial wealth are in the highest alcohol risk category. The term “success” also meant that the most at-risk individuals were healthy, sociable, and active.

Professor Jose Iparraguirre, lead author of the alcohol study, spoke about the findings and about what they mean.

“Our findings suggest that harmful drinking in later life is more prevalent among people who exhibit a lifestyle associated with affluence and with a ‘successful’ ageing process. Harmful drinking may then be a hidden health and social problem in otherwise successful older people. Consequently, and based on our results, we recommend the explicit incorporation of alcohol drinking levels and patterns into the successful ageing paradigm.”

In other words, the chances of someone who is over 50, healthy, social, affluent, and otherwise “successful” having a problem with alcohol are quite high. Therefore, the suggestion is that healthcare providers and family members ought to be on the lookout for an alcohol abuse problem in such individuals.

The study indicated that binge drinking and the consumption of alcohol in general is actually on the decline among young people, while binge drinking and overall consumption is rapidly rising within the elderly population. The statistics are causing some health officials to call for an alcohol risk assessment to be included with general checkups for everyone between the ages of 40 in 74 in the U.K.

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Jackie Ballard, the chief executive for the group Alcohol Concern, spoke about the findings of the alcohol study.

“Harmful drinking is a real issue for middle-aged and older people, many of whom are regularly drinking above recommended limits, often in their own homes. These are the people who, if they develop alcohol related illnesses, tend to require the most complex and expensive health care due to the mental and physical problems caused by drinking too much. Unless society starts to take this seriously and acknowledges the health problems and the cost to society which too much alcohol can cause, the situation will only get worse.”

Is this something to get upset about? Should we be concerned about “successful” people drinking too much alcohol? Or is drinking too much alcohol a privilege “successful” individuals have earned as a result of a well-lived life?

[Photo by Peter Ruck/Getty Images]