The effect of social support and quality of life on attitudes towards drinking in a population of older adults.
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Collum, Samantha P.
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Alcoholism in older adults remains a highly prevalent problem within the United States. The elderly have been identified as a "special population" at risk for developing alcoholism and older adults struggling with alcoholism continue to represent an underserved population. The present study examined the relationship between problematic drinking, age at onset of problematic drinking, alcohol expectancies, the role of social support, and quality of life (specifically life satisfaction). Study participants were 155 men and women aged 55 and older recruited from local retirement communities and senior centers. Study participants completed a brief self-report battery of measures including: the Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test- Geriatric Version (S-MAST-G), the Desire for Drugs Questionnaire- Revised (DDQ-R), the Life Satisfaction Index- Form A (LSI-A), the Alcohol Effects Questionnaire (AEFQ), and the Shortened Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ). The main objective of this study was to advance knowledge into the relationships between alcohol expectancies, social support, life satisfaction, and problematic drinking. Results indicated that older adults with positive alcohol expectancies were more likely to drink problematically and to drink alcohol at a higher frequency whereby a greater number of hours were spent drinking weekly, but were not more likely to consume higher quantities of alcohol. Social support did not impact problematic drinking, or levels of alcohol use in this study. Lastly, total life satisfaction was negatively related to problematic drinking. As a result, there are clear relationships between life satisfaction, positive alcohol expectancies, and problematic drinking (and at times with overall alcohol use) in older adults. It may be important for future studies to examine these variables in a more generalizable population, as many of the older adults in this sample did not currently consume alcohol, or had never consumed alcohol.