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Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2008 Feb;76(2):75-85. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-993041.

[Unhealthy alcohol use in the elderly--current screening and treatment strategies].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für abhängiges Verhalten und Suchtmedizin der Universität Duisburg-Essen, Rheinische Kliniken Essen, Virchowstrasse 174, Essen.


Due to demographic trends and an aging cohort, which has higher rates of substance abuse than any previous generation, an increase in numbers of elderly alcohol abusers is predicted. The number of older alcohol dependent adults in Germany has been estimated to 400 000, the prevalence of risky use up to 2 million. Despite this reported high prevalence, patients over age 60 are seldom seen attending in- or outpatient treatment programs for alcohol dependence. In addition, little is known about this growing population of older adults with alcohol-related disease, e. g. regarding course of alcohol addiction, consumption patterns, somatic and mental comorbid disorders. This article shows the state of research in this area and reviews clinically-relevant concepts related to identifying, assessing and treating older adults with alcohol-related disability. Emphasis will be placed on the psychotherapy-methods of brief interventions and cognitive-behavioral therapy and on the pharmacological approaches for treating alcohol dependence with disulfiram, acamprosate and naltrexone.

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