Samuel Bacharach and Peter Bamberger have recently written a book entitled, “Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic: The Complex Link Between Aging, Work Disengagement and Substance Misuse – and What To Do About It.” The book highlights the problems that many retirees face and how they oftentimes turn towards alcohol to get through the latter part of life. They realized that this was a topic worth writing about after they spoke with over one thousand retirees and found that alcohol abuse was a very common thread among the elderly.
According to the authors, 10 to 17 percent of retirees are misusing alcohol. There are a variety of reasons behind this high level of abuse. Some point to the fact that retirees have an increased amount of free time on their hands. Not knowing what to do with all the time, some turn to alcohol, which can create a late in life addiction. Others claim that because retirees are no longer working they have lost their sense of purpose, this oftentimes leads to a sort of depression that alcohol is used to cover up. Some experts say that because many retirees socially drank during their lives it is an easy transition into addiction after they retire.
Regardless of the reason, it is important that people understand that this problem is occurring so they can spot it in their loved ones. There are treatment options that exist for those that are suffering from an alcohol addiction problem at any age. “If you can kill the stigma, there’s hope. This research points to that possibility,” explained Bamberger.
Banberger and Bacharach are pleased that their book is gaining attention. They hope that if people understand that some retirees are suffering from depression and subsequent alcohol abuse that society will begin to do something about it. Increased alcohol intake by the elderly is something that affects more than just the addict. Health care costs rise as well as social welfare costs. Properly treating the alcohol abuse and any co-occurring disorders can create a happy retirement free from damaging substances.