Addiction specialists are noticing an uptick in the number of older women who are binge drinking or turning to alcoholism in greater numbers than previous generations. “That’s because they’re part of the baby boomer generation,” says Dr. Michael Weaver, the medical director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at UTHealth. “That was the first generation that really used more drugs. They were the hippies of the Sixties, they drank more and kept up some of that as they aged.” He says he’s also seeing more patients classified with Late Onset Alcohol Use Disorder, when significant life changes including losing a souse, having to deal with retirement issues, or health problems that become manifest in advancing years all begin to take a toll and hit critical mass. He sees sometimes women who didn’t drink previously turn to the bottle as a coping mechanism.
These older women are now presenting in doctor’s offices, addiction centers, and hospitals across the country with heart disease, cirrhosis, depression, stroke, and bleeding of the stomach. Additionally, 60% of fatal burn injuries involve alcohol consumption, 50% of traumatic injuries and sexual assaults, and 40% of car accidents, suicides and falls.