The drunken older man epidemic

Believe it or not, it’s not the younger men who are responsible for most of Melbourne’s drunken drama, with new research suggesting that inebriated older men are creating an epidemic.

Ambulance data from the last financial year reveals that the highest rate of calls for alcohol intoxication were from men aged in their 40s and 50s – not the stereotypical 15 to 39-year-old cohort commonly targeted in anti-alcohol and health campaigns.

The research showed that older drunks were more likely to need an ambulance home from the city after a night out drinking. Similar patterns were revealed throughout rural Victoria, with men in their 40s the most common callers, followed by men in their 50s then those aged 15 to 24. The lowest rate was among men aged 25 to 39.

Older men were most likely to need an ambulance from a private residence, while younger men called them from public places. Older men were also more likely to need hospitalisation, either because they had an underlying illness or through alcohol interacting with medications.

On the other hand, women in Melbourne aged 15 to 24 had the highest rate of calls, followed by those in their 40s and 50s and then by those aged 25 to 39. Women aged 15 to 24 were also the highest callers in regional areas, followed by 25 to 39-year-olds, then 40s and 50s.

The study did not specify the details of the calls, but all involved alcohol, either through injury or poisoning.

The most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey also showed that the rate of “very heavy” drinking was most prevalent among Australians in their 40s.

Possible reasons for the trend include older people having more disposable income, higher rates of mental illness and more exposure to a culture of alcohol consumption through their formative years.

Read more at The Age.

Are you surprised by these findings? What do you think is the best way to tackle this issue? Is it more concerning that older men are making more calls, or does the age of female callers worry you more? Do you think these findings, which are specific to Victoria, could be extrapolated across the country?

Related articles:
Are you too dependent on alcohol?
How much alcohol is too much?
Sensible alcohol guidelines

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