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Gender differences in treatment outcomes for alcohol dependence among older adults


Objective: This study examined clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of older alcohol dependent women and men in a mixed-age private outpatient chemical dependency program. Method: The sample included 92 patients aged 55 to 77 (29 women and 63 men). Measures consisted of demographic characteristics, alcohol and drug use and dependence, drinking history, health status, psychiatric symptoms, length of stay in treatment, use of Alcoholics Anonymous and six-month outcomes. Results: Women reported later initiation of heavy drinking than men, but had similar drinking levels at baseline. At six months, 79.3% of women reported abstinence from alcohol and drugs in the prior 30 days, versus 54.0% of men, p = .02. Greater length of stay in treatment predicted abstinence at six months. Among those who were not abstinent, no women reported heavy drinking in 30 days prior to follow-up, while non-abstinent men reported an average of 4.0 heavy drinking days (sd = 9.20), p = .025. Conclusions: Results suggest that alcohol dependent older women may have better drinking outcomes compared with alcohol dependent older men, following outpatient treatment.

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