‘I take my tablets with the whiskey’: A qualitative study of alcohol and medication use in mid to later life.

Katie Haighton, Jess Kidd, Amy O’Donnell, Graeme Wilson, Karen McCabe, Jonathan Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
Concurrent alcohol and medication use can result in significant problems especially in mid to later life. Alcohol is often used instead of medication for a number of health-related conditions. This novel qualitative study explored concurrent alcohol and medication use, as well as the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes, in a sample of individuals in mid to later life.

Methods
Twenty-four interviews (12 men/12 women, ages 51–90 years) and three focus groups (n = 27, 6 men/21 women, ages 50–95 years) from three branches of Age UK and two services for alcohol problems in North East England.

Results
Older people in this study often combined alcohol and medication, frequently without discussing this with their family doctor. However, being prescribed medication could act as a motivating factor to stop or reduce alcohol consumption. Participants also used alcohol to self-medicate, to numb pain, aid sleep or cope with stress and anxiety. Some participants used alcohol to deal with depression although alcohol was also reported as a cause of depression. Women in this study reported using alcohol to cope with mental health problems while men were more likely to describe reducing their alcohol consumption as a consequence of being prescribed medication.

Conclusions
As older people often combine alcohol and medication, health professionals such as family doctors, community nurses, and pharmacists should consider older patients’ alcohol consumption prior to prescribing or dispensing medication and should monitor subsequent drinking. In particular, older people should be informed of the dangers of concurrent alcohol and medication use.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0205956
JournalPLoS One
Volume13
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2018

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