New Middle-Age Crisis: Drinking Over 50

A study found that binge drinking is prevalent among middle-aged adults.

ByABC News via logo
August 16, 2009, 10:16 PM

Aug. 17, 2009— -- Binge drinking does not occur just among teenagers or college students. A recent study indicated that drinking large amounts of alcohol is now more prevalent among middle-aged adults than previously thought.

Twenty-three percent of men and 9 percent of women between 50 and 64 years old reported drinking at least five alcoholic beverages in the same day, in the previous month, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"This is not a teenage problem. This is not a college-level problem. This is a problem that is existing in today's boomer population," said Carol Colleran, author of "Aging and Addiction: Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol and Medication Dependence."

The study defines binge drinking as someone having five or more drinks during the same occasion within the past 30 days.

Although the study indicated there are more men who binge drink than women, the women are often more secretive about their drinking habits.

"They have a tremendous amount of responsibility on their shoulders. They have the responsibility of aging parents, they have the responsibility of their children," Colleran explained. "Plus, they have their own relationship with their spouse."

Rachael Brownell knows from personal experience how true that is.

"You hit 35 and you are in the big leagues. For me, it meant that I had kids and mortgage and a big job and all of these things hit at the same time," Brownell said.

Brownell said she was isolated, stressed and felt like she "couldn't win", so she turned to drinking. For three years she drank more than two glasses of wine nearly every day. When she went on a walk with her children she said it often involved stopping at the local convenience store to stock up on wine.

"We would have kid birthday parties and neighborhood get-togethers and I seemed to be the one most interested in how much alcohol was there," Brownell said.