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OAPs hit the bottle in retirement

Published 20/02/2008

The UK youth culture of binge-drinking is rarely out of the headlines these days. However, a worrying trend of alcohol abuse within the older generation has been noticed by specialists at the Linwood Group, one of the UK's leading providers of alcohol addiction treatment.

They are seeing increasing number of men and women in their sixties, seventies and even in their eighties being admitted for alcohol detox and ongoing treatment at their four dedicated alcohol clinics.

Director of Linwood and leading addiction therapist, Sue Allchurch, explains why she feels this is happening: "Many people find retirement difficult to cope with. We grow up in a culture where work dominates everything and few are lucky enough to have a consuming passion or pastime to accompany them into retirement.

"Likewise, families these days are scattered across the country, even the world, so are not part of everyday life for many when they retire."

"Combine boredom, loneliness and the worry of getting older and you have the perfect formula for someone to turn to drink. Those people with a propensity towards alcoholism, which did not emerge during their working life, can find themselves progressing into dependency very quickly".

What's more, it can be harder to spot the symptoms of alcohol abuse in older people, because uncharacteristic behaviour, memory lapses, mood swings, clumsiness and feeling ‘under the weather' are often dismissed as the more general symptoms of advancing age.

But alcohol dependence is just as serious a problem for the elderly as it is the young, says Sue Allchurch: "We're often asked whether it matters so much if someone older becomes alcohol dependent, when the truth is that drinking out of control can rapidly spiral in a matter of months, potentially leading to premature death through a drink-related disease or accident."

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