Scientific Article
What Do Elderly Heavy Alcohol Users Aim For?

Jakob Emiliussen, Kjeld Andersen, Anette Søgaard Nielsen, Barbara Braun & Randi Bilberg
Emiliussen, J., Andersen, K., Nielsen, A. S., Braun, B., & Bilberg, R. (2019). What do elderly problem drinkers aim for? Choice of goal for treatment among elderly treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent patients. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 36(6), 511–521.
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    Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
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What Do Elderly Problem Drinkers Aim For? Choice of Goal for Treatment Among Elderly Treatment-Seeking Alcohol-Dependent Patients

Research article



The patient’s free choice of treatment goals for alcohol use disorder (AUD) is predictive for treatment outcome. Presently there is limited knowledge of whether the age at onset of AUD influences the choice of goal for treatment. The present study investigates whether there are differences in choice of treatment goal between patients with very late onset alcohol use disorder (VLO AUD ≥ 60 years) and those having early or mid-age onset of AUD (EMO AUD < 60 years).


Participants were 341 persons, voluntarily enrolled in the Elderly Study, who were seeking treatment for AUD in outpatient centres for alcohol treatment in Denmark. Data regarding thoughts about abstinence, alcohol use in the last 90 days, motivation for treatment and psychiatric diagnosis were collected via questionnaires. A logistics regression was used to analyse the data.


32.1% of the participants with VLO AUD chose temporary abstinence goals, compared to 18.2% of the patients with earlier-onset AUD (p = 0.024). Further, 10.7% of participants with VLO AUD chose total abstinence goals compared to 31.3% of participants with early or mid-age onset AUD (p = 0.002).


There are significant differences in choice of goal between participants with very late onset AUD and early or mid-age onset AUD. Individuals with very late onset alcohol use disorder tend to choose temporary abstinence over any other treatment goal whereas, in general, individuals with early onset alcohol use disorder choose permanent abstinence over other treatment goals.

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