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Peer Influence, Other Social Factors Can Affect Drinking Among Older Adults

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As with underage drinking, social factors can help predict excessive drinking among older adults, according to new research from Rudolf H. Moos of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto, Calif.

Moos and colleagues studied 719 men and women ages 55 to 65 over a 20-year period and found that those with more money, a more active social life, and friends who approved of drinking were more likely to engage in risky or excessive drinking.

“Older adults who engage in high-risk alcohol consumption tend to select friends who are more likely to drink and to approve of drinking,” said Moos.

Charles J. Holahan, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin said the findings “demonstrate that a spouse and friends can make a constructive difference in later life drinking. However, a spouse and friends can also unwittingly become caught up as facilitators in the process of later life drinking.”

The study is available online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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