Alcohol Abuse Treatment for Older Adults
Abstract As the population continues to age, social work practitioners and researchers will increasingly confront the needs of elders with alcohol use disorders. Alcohol abuse poses special risks for increased morbidity and mortality among older adults, contributing to the heightened use of medical resources and the related increase in medical costs. Although, the prevalence of alcohol use disorders in the elderly is generally less than that found in younger groups, it is expected to increase with the aging of the ?baby-boom? generation. The purpose of this article is to enhance social work practitioners and researchers' understanding of the nature of elder alcohol abuse, the needs of elders with alcohol abuse disorders, and the availability of effective treatment strategies by reviewing the epidemiological and outcomes research literatures related to alcohol abuse and the elderly. The few empirical studies that examine outcomes associated with the treatment of elderly substance abusers reveal positive outcomes, especially when ?age-specific,? cognitive-behavioral, and less confrontational treatment approaches are employed. However, further research needs to be conducted concerning the nature of alcohol abuse among this population and the impact of specific alcohol treatment strategies on older adults. Such research must consider the needs and experiences of specific sub-populations of elders such as women, minorities, and those with late onset disorders.