Introduction: Little is known about the use of psychotropic drugs and alcohol among non-institutionalised elderly adults in Germany.
Methods: Using data from the 1998 German National Health Interview and Examination Survey, we analysed patterns of current psychotropic drug and alcohol use among 726 male and 879 female survey participants between the ages of 60 and 79. Multivariable regression analysis was used to determine factors associated with alcohol consumption and psychotropic drug use.
Results: The overall weighted last-week prevalence was 20.1% for the use of psychotropic drugs, 47.3% for the use of alcohol, 15.1% for risky drinking, and 7.6% for combined psychotropic drug and alcohol use. Factors significantly related to psychotropic drug use included female sex, older age, poor health status and polypharmacy. Male sex, smoking, higher social status, better health status and living alone were determinants of alcohol consumption.
Conclusions: Compared to other European countries, overall psychotropic drug use among the elderly in Germany is slightly lower, whereas alcohol use as risky drinking and concurrent use of alcohol and psychotropic drugs are highly prevalent. It should be of particular concern to health professionals that people at high risk for psychotropic drug use include the most vulnerable subgroups among the elderly.