Demographic trends of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders among older adults in the United States, 2005–2014

Benjamin H. Han, Alison A. Moore, Scott Sherman, Katherine M. Keyes, Joseph J. Palamar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background Alcohol use is common among older adults, and this population has unique risks with alcohol consumption in even lower amounts than younger persons. No recent studies have estimated trends in alcohol use including binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders (AUD) among older adults. Methods We examined alcohol use among adults age ≥50 in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2005 to 2014. Trends of self-reported past-month binge alcohol use and AUD were estimated. Logistic regression models were used to examine correlates of binge alcohol use and AUD. Results The prevalence of both past-month binge alcohol use and AUD increased significantly among adults age ≥50 from 2005/2006 to 2013/2014, with a relative increase of 19.2% for binge drinking (linear trend p < 0.001) and a 23.3% relative increase for AUD (linear trend p = 0.035). While males had a higher prevalence of binge alcohol use and AUD compared to females, there were significant increases in both among females. In adjusted models of aggregated data, being Hispanic, male, and a smoker or illicit drug user were associated with binge alcohol use, while being male, a smoker, an illicit drug user, or reporting past-year depression or mental health treatment were associated with AUD. Conclusions Alcohol use among older adults is increasing in the US, including past-month binge alcohol use and AUD with increasing trends among females. Providers and policymakers need to be aware of these changes to address the increase of older adults with unhealthy drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Alcohol
  • Epidemiology
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this