Little is known about the consumption habits of older adults in Norway with respect to alcohol and the use of drugs with addiction potential, such as benzodiazepines, z-hypnotics and opioids, among regular drinkers. We studied the prevalence of self-reported consumption of alcohol on a regular basis in community-living older men and women (= 65 years). Furthermore, we investigated the prevalence of dispensed prescribed drugs with addiction potential in older men and women who were regular drinkers.
We used data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study 2006-2008 (HUNT3). Of 12,361 older adults in the HUNT3 study, 11,545 had answered the alcohol consumption item and were included in our study. Regular drinkers were defined as consuming alcohol one or more days a week. Data on dispensed drugs with addiction potential were drawn from the Norwegian Prescription Database. Addiction potential was defined as at least one prescription for benzodiazepines, z-hypnotics or opioids during one year for a minimum of two consecutive years.
In total 28.2% of older Norwegian adults were regular drinkers. Men in the study were more likely to be regular drinkers than women. Drugs with addiction potential were used by 32.4% of participants, and were more commonly used by women. Nearly 12% of participants used benzodiazepines, 19% z-hypnotics and 12.4% opioids. Among regular drinkers, 29% used drugs with addiction potential, which was also more common among women. Adjusted for age, gender and living situation, use of z-hypnotics was associated with regular alcohol intake, while use of opioids was associated with no regular alcohol intake.
The prevalence of the use of drugs with addiction potential was high in a Norwegian population of older adults who reported regular consumption of alcohol. Strategies should be developed to reduce or prevent alcohol consumption among older adults who use drugs with addiction potential.