Psychological Distress, Binge/Heavy Drinking, and Gender Differences among Older Adults

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Previous studies provide conflicting information on the relationship between drinking and mental health problems in older men and women. This paper addresses the relationship of binge/heavy drinking to psychological distress in community-dwelling older men and women. The study sample consisted of subjects aged 50 and older (n = 2,462 men and 2,863 women) who participated in the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Men and women who drank and drank heavily were compared, and ordinary least squares regression analysis was used to examine the association between drinking and psychological distress after demographic factors and health status were controlled for. Binge/heavy drinking was found to be related to psychological distress in older women, but not in older men. Though findings on the relationship between heavy drinking and psychological distress in men and women are not consistent across studies, older men and women should be assessed for both conditions in clinical settings. (Am J Addict 2011;00:1–9)

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