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Gender Differences in Treatment Outcomes for Alcohol Dependence among Older Adults

Derek D. Satre, Jennifer R. Mertens, Constance Weisner

Objective: This study examined clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of older alcohol-dependent men and women in a mixed-age private outpatient chemical dependency program. Method: The sample comprised 92 patients aged 55 to 77 (63 men and 29 women). The 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 6-month treatment outcomes. Results: The women reported later initiation of heavy drinking (5+ drinks per occasion) than the men, but had similar drinking levels at the treatment intake interview. At the 6-month follow-up, 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 6 months. Among those who were not abstinent, none of the women reported heavy drinking in the 30 days prior to follow-up, whereas nonabstinent men reported a mean (SD) of 4.0 (9.2) heavy drinking days (p = .025). Conclusions: The results suggest that older women may have better drinking outcomes compared with older men, following treatment for alcohol dependence. (J. Stud. Alcohol 65: 638-642, 2004)