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Older people turn to alcohol during financial stress

stress drinking

During financially hard time, many people turn to alcohol and cigarettes to deaden the pain of every day stress and anxiety. According to a study in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, alcohol and nicotine use is up due to stress caused by difficult economic times.

In a survey of 2300 older American, many, particularly men and people with less education, were at risk of boosting drinking as their finances took a hit. The same could be said smoking.

“When you have a stressor that’s not very controllable, people may focus on something to help control their emotional response to the stressor,” said Benjamin Shaw, PhD, of the State University of New York at Albany. Financial concerns are particularly poignant for older Americans on a fixed income with little job opportunity.

“They are out of the workforce, and they might feel like they have less time to recover or generally have less control over their financial situation,” continued Shaw. The ongoing global financial crisis combined with a growing aging population means the number of older Americans in distress will likely increase.

Men may be hit harder with three percent saying they currently are drinking about 30 drinks a month. Women conversely tend to stop drinking as their financial concerns increase. This may have something to do with men identifying as the “breadwinner” and feeling more responsibility to meet financial needs for the family.

Shaw says people should be aware that older adults may turn to alcohol as their difficulties increase. If families members know there could be a problem, they can intervene.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

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