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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Sep;22(6):1349-58.

Predicting the development of late-life late-onset drinking problems: a 7-year prospective study.

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  • 1Center for Health Care Evaluation, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, California 94304, USA.


There has been little empirical study of risk factors for the development of late-life late-onset drinking problems. In the current prospective study, we compare two groups of older adults who, at a baseline assessment, were nonproblem drinkers: individuals who developed drinking problems over the course of the next 7 years (n = 77) and those who did not (n = 197). Late-onset problem drinkers reported mild to moderate drinking problems and spontaneous remission rates were high. Compared with stable nonproblem drinkers, late-onset problem drinkers at baseline were more likely to report incipient problems, heavier alcohol consumption, greater friend approval of drinking, more reliance on avoidance coping strategies, were more likely to smoke, and were less likely to have acute medical conditions that could potentially be complicated by alcohol consumption. Contrary to expectation, life stressors did not predict drinking problem onset. However, compared with stable nonproblem drinkers, late-onset problem drinkers were more likely to have a history of responding to stressors and negative affect with increased alcohol consumption.

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