Alcoholism treatment adherence: older age predicts better adherence and drinking outcomes

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Nov-Dec;10(6):740-7.


Objective: Adherence to treatment has been demonstrated to be an important factor for remission from alcohol dependence. The authors compared therapy and medication adherence for treatment of alcohol dependence in older adults with adherence in younger adults.

Methods: All subjects were participants in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy trial of naltrexone for the treatment of alcohol dependence. All subjects received a medically-based psychosocial intervention focused on motivating patients to change and on adherence to treatment. The therapy is nonconfrontational and is delivered by a nurse-practitioner.

Results: Compared with younger adults, older adults had greater attendance at therapy sessions and greater adherence to the medication. Age-group was the only pretreatment factor associated with adherence. The greater adherence in older adults translated to less relapse than in younger adults.

Conclusion: Treatment for alcohol dependence can be effective for older adults. Older adults appear to respond well to a medically-oriented program that is supportive and individualized. In fact, findings from this study suggest that older adults can be treated in mixed-age treatment settings when psychotherapeutic strategies are used that are age-appropriate and delivered on an individual basis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Psychotherapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naltrexone