High-Risk Drinking Is Associated with Lower Self-Rated Physical and Mental Health among Older Americans
Recent studies have questioned whether older adults who exceed recommended drinking limits experience adverse health consequences. Researchers analyzed data in a subsample of 4646 men and women age ≥60 who reported current drinking on the 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Using latent class analysis and results of the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule (DSM-IV version), they divided the cohort into 3 consumption categories: low-risk (89%), moderate-risk (10%), and high-risk (1%). Multivariable analysis was used to determine the association between consumption category, demographic factors, and self-rated health.
- Compared with participants in the low-risk consumption category, those in the moderate- and high-risk categories tended to be younger and were more likely to be male, to have less than a high school education, and to be the child of an alcoholic.
- Current smoking rates were 17% in the low-risk category and 37% and 54% in the moderate- and high-risk categories, respectively.
- High-risk drinking was associated with poorer self-rated physical and mental health. Moderate-risk drinking was not.
- Only 7% of participants in the high-risk category reported receiving alcohol treatment services in the past year.