Prevalence and correlates of binge drinking among older adults with multimorbidity

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Jun 1:187:48-54. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.01.038. Epub 2018 Mar 31.


Background: Binge drinking among older adults has increased in the past decade. Binge drinking is associated with unintentional injuries, medical conditions, and lower health-related quality of life. No studies have characterized multimorbidity among older binge drinkers.

Methods: We examined past 30-day binge alcohol use and lifetime medical conditions among adults age ≥50 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2005 to 2014. Self-reported lifetime prevalence of 13 medical conditions and medical multimorbidity (≥2 diseases) among binge drinkers were compared to non-binge drinkers. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine correlates of binge alcohol use among older adults with medical multimorbidity.

Results: Among adults aged ≥50, 14.4% reported past-month binge drinking. Estimated prevalence of medical multimorbidity was lower (21.4%) among binge drinkers than non-binge drinkers (28.3%; p < 0.01). Binge drinkers were more likely to use tobacco and illegal drugs than non-binge drinkers (ps < 0.001). In the adjusted model, among older adults with multimorbidity, higher income (AOR = 1.44, p < 0.05), past-month tobacco use (AOR = 2.55, p < 0.001) and substance use disorder for illegal drugs (AOR = 1.80, p < 0.05) was associated with increased odds of binge alcohol use.

Conclusion: The prevalence of multimorbidity was lower among current binge drinkers compared to non-binge drinkers, possibly because older adults in good health are apt to drink more than adults in poorer health. Current use of tobacco and substance use disorder were associated with an increased risk for binge drinking among older adults with multimorbidity. Binge drinking by older adults with multimorbidity may pose significant health risks especially with the concurrent use of other substances.

Keywords: Binge drinking; Multimorbidity; Older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Binge Drinking / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimorbidity*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology