Can't find something? Search Here.

Alcoholism Growing Problem Among Elderly in Japan

Posted in Addiction News

Alcohol consumption does not create an addiction in all those who engage in social drinking. A number of individuals will take part in the activity for a number of reasons, but many are able to do so without their drinking becoming a problem. When retirement sets in however, some are finding their fondness for drink is taking on a whole new meaning.

A recent article in the AZ Starnet cited industry professionals who are noticing the increasing number of people in Japan turning to alcohol after retiring. Many of these individuals are developing an addiction and are unable to control their intake. When they try to withdraw from alcohol, they experience the shakes, nausea and hallucinations, among other symptoms.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, 800,000 alcoholics are receiving treatment throughout Japan and as many as 4.4 million people might be incipient addicts. In a survey of 11 major hospitals that specialize in alcohol treatments, the number of individuals over the age of 60 seeking treatment for alcohol dependency has increased 1.4 times since 1997.

The percentage of elderly addicts among all new people seeking treatment for alcoholism rose from 23.3 percent to 26.7 percent in the same time frame. Society’s inability to fully recognize this illness is being partially blamed for the increase. Too often, friends and family will tolerate the drinking as a reward for a lifetime of hard work. While loved ones have good intentions, they fail to understand the risks for the elderly.

"As people get older, their liver function deteriorates, and they become less able to hold their alcohol. Elderly people can become addicted quickly," said Susumu Higuchi, a doctor and deputy director of the Kurihama Alcoholism Center in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. "As they become frail, they can easily slip or fall when drunk. It’s very dangerous."