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Concern for baby boomers who drink to excess despite declining drinking trends

Published:  23 August, 2017

Over-50s baby boomers are continuing to drink heavily despite the overall trend of risky drinking declining, says a new report.

While problem drinking among the young is falling those aged 50 years and older are continuing to drink excessively.

There is also a strong upward trend for “episodic heavy drinking” in this age group with women drinking particularly excessively.

The increasing proportion of women drinking in later life was an area of concern highlighted in the research. It said that more and more women were drinking heavily particularly those whose alcohol consumption was triggered by life events such as retirement, bereavement, change in home situation, infrequent contact with family and friends, and social isolation.

The research from Rahul Rao, visiting researcher at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Ann Roche, director of the National Centre for Training and Addiction at Flinders University in Australia, was published in The British Medical Journal.

It also revealed that it was not just alcohol but other substances that were being abused by the older population.

The researchers wrote: “With alcohol being the most common substance of misuse among older people, underdetection of alcohol problems is of immediate concern.

“Alcohol misuse in the older population may increase further as baby boomers get older because of their more liberal views towards, and higher use of, alcohol.”

Meanwhile, Dave Roberts director general of the Alcohol Information Partnership, said: "According to Government data the vast majority of UK adults drink in a convivial and moderate manner and within the chief medical officers low risk guidelines. Where problems do exist it is essential that solutions are targeted at those that need support rather than heavy handed bans and restrictions that hit the moderate drinking majority.”