Binge Drinking Among Older Adults in the United States, 2015 to 2017
Binge alcohol use is a risk factor for a range of harms. This study estimates the national prevalence of binge alcohol use and adds to the understanding of correlates of binge alcohol use among older adults in the United States.
A total of 10,927 adults, aged 65 years or older, from the 2015 to 2017 administrations of the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The study estimated the prevalence of past‐month binge alcohol use (five or more units of alcohol on the same occasion for men and four or more units of alcohol on the same occasion for women). Characteristics of past‐month binge alcohol users, including demographics, substance use, serious mental illness, mental health treatment utilization, chronic disease, and emergency department (ED) use, were compared to participants who reported past‐month alcohol use without binge alcohol use. Comparisons were made using χ2 tests. The researchers then used multivariable generalized linear models using Poisson and log link to examine the association between covariates and binge alcohol use among all past‐month alcohol users aged 65 years or older.
Of 10,927 respondents, 10.6% (95% CI = 9.9%‐11.2%) were estimated to be current binge alcohol users. Binge alcohol users were more likely to be male, have a higher prevalence of current tobacco and/or cannabis use, and have a lower prevalence of two or more chronic diseases compared to nonbinge alcohol users. In multivariable analysis, among past‐month alcohol users, the prevalence of binge alcohol use was higher among non‐Hispanic African Americans than whites (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.44; 95% CI = 1.16‐1.80), tobacco users (aPR = 1.52; 95% CI = 1.33‐1.74), cannabis users (aPR = 1.41; 95% CI = 1.11‐1.80), and those who visited the ED in the past year (aPR = 1.16; 95% CI = 1.00‐1.33).
Over a tenth of older adults in the United States are estimated to be current binge alcohol users. Results confirm the importance of screening for binge alcohol use behaviors among older adults to minimize harms.