Isolation drives seniors into alcohol addiction

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Alcohol addiction is increasing in the elderly

The number of alcoholics in Germany has increased dramatically in recent years. Almost 1.8 million Germans are addicted to alcohol. The numbers are also increasing among the elderly. In North Rhine-Westphalia, therefore, there is more advice and help available to prevent addiction and weaning.

Alcohol problems in all age groups The number of alcoholics in Germany has increased dramatically in recent years, with just under 1.8 million Germans dependent on alcohol. According to a study by the Munich Institute for Therapy Research, their number increased from 1.3 million to 1.77 million between 2006 and 2012. North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Health Barbara Steffens (Greens) told the NRZ: "There are people with alcohol problems in all age groups, regardless of income." The number of addicts is growing, but the consumption of alcohol in the population is declining overall.

Frequent drinkers with more than five glasses a day According to a study by the German Institute for Nutritional Research (DIfE), frequent drinkers are men who consume more than five glasses of an alcoholic beverage (60 g) per day. Half applies to women. Some health experts still consider a daily amount of 24 grams for men and 12 grams for women to be acceptable. According to the Munich study, in addition to the nearly 1.8 million dependent alcoholics nationwide, another 1.6 million people drink a lot of alcohol, but are not yet considered addicted.

Various reasons for reaching for a bottle According to Minister Steffens' estimates, there are at least two million people in NRW who have alcohol problems. 400,000 are considered dependent, 70 percent of whom are men and 30 percent are women. "There are many reasons for the excessive use of the bottle: peer pressure, loneliness, pressure at work or at home, psychological problems. In many circles, excessive alcohol consumption is also an essential part of leisure activities or is considered cool, ”says Steffens.

Increasing dependency among older people There are clear differences in some areas of the population. Young women between the ages of 18 and 24 drink significantly more alcohol than ten years ago. But consumption is declining among those aged 40 to 59. The minister is particularly concerned about the increasing dependency among older people. According to the German Central Office for Addiction Hazards (DHS), 15.4 percent of people over the age of 60 consume alcohol in a risky manner. In Germany up to 400,000 seniors are affected by an alcohol problem. According to the DHS, the proportion of alcoholics in old people's homes and nursing homes is higher on average than in older people in private households.

Isolation can contribute to addiction “Alcohol and drug addiction among older people is increasing. Isolation and the loss of recognition in old age can contribute to the fact that more and more old people become addicted, ”says Steffens. And the DHS also assumes that addiction in old age will increase due to the demographic development. That is why in 2012 the state of North Rhine-Westphalia worked with doctors, pharmacies, social organizations and municipalities to develop a state concept for addiction, which, among other things, provides more counseling and support services for preventing addiction, weaning and reintegrating into the profession. The federal state pays a total of 13.7 million euros per year for addiction prevention.

Girls and young women catch up with excessive drinking The so-called intoxication, i.e. five or more alcoholic drinks a day, occurs three times as often in men than in women. At least four times a month, 20.6 percent of men drink “one over thirst”. This is only 6.6 percent for women. But Steffens criticized: "Unfortunately, girls and young women catch up with excessive drinking." The minister continues: "What appears to be an expression of emancipation does not, however, stand for new female self-confidence." While, according to the Munich study, more people "have one." problematic consumption of alcohol ”, the number of alcohol users has decreased overall since 2005 in all age groups.

Federal Minister of Health challenged The spokesman for drug and addiction policy of the Greens parliamentary group, Harald Terpe, last month had the new Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU) in view of the questionable figures of the "Epidemiological Addiction Survey", which was commissioned by the Munich Institute on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health for therapy research was asked to "devote more energy to addiction prevention and therapy than its predecessor" and criticized in this context that the position of the Federal Government's drug commissioner has not yet been filled. (sb)

Image: Gerd Altmann / Anja Wichmann /

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