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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1991 Dec;15(6):948-55.

Short-term processes of remission and nonremission among late-life problem drinkers.

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Center for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto, CA 94304.


This prospective study compares alcohol use, functioning, life stressors, social resources, and help-seeking among three groups of older adults: remitted problem drinkers, nonremitted problem drinkers, and nonproblem drinkers. At initial assessment, to-be-remitted problem drinkers had several advantages compared with individuals who would continue to have drinking problems. Specifically, they consumed less alcohol, reported fewer drinking problems, had friends who approved less of drinking, and were more likely to seek help from mental health practitioners. Problem drinkers who remitted improved somewhat over time, but they did not attain the level of functioning or type of life contexts shown by nonproblem drinkers. Time of onset of drinking problems influenced the short-term process of remission: Compared with early-onset individuals, late-onset problem drinkers were more likely to remit over the 1-year interval. The predictors of short-term remission suggested that late-onset problem drinkers may be more reactive to physical health stressors and to social influences than are individuals with more long-standing problems with alcohol.

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