Older and wiser? Men’s and women’s accounts of drinking in early mid-life

Emslie, C., Hunt, K. and Lyons, A. (2012) Older and wiser? Men’s and women’s accounts of drinking in early mid-life. Sociology of Health and Illness, 34(4), pp. 481-496. (doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2011.01424.x)

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Abstract

Most qualitative research on alcohol focuses on younger rather than older adults. To explore older people’s relationship with alcohol, we conducted eight focus groups with 36 men and women aged 35 to 50 years in Scotland, UK. Initially, respondents suggested that older drinkers consume less alcohol, no longer drink to become drunk and are sociable drinkers more interested in the taste than the effects of alcohol. However, as discussions progressed, respondents collectively recounted recent drunken escapades, challenged accounts of moderate drinking, and suggested there was still peer pressure to drink. Some described how their drinking had increased in mid-life but worked hard discursively to emphasise that it was age and stage appropriate (i.e. they still met their responsibilities as workers and parents). Women presented themselves as staying in control of their drinking while men described going out with the intention of getting drunk (although still claiming to meet their responsibilities). While women experienced peer pressure to drink, they seemed to have more options for socialising without alcohol than did men. Choosing not to drink alcohol is a behaviour that still requires explanation in early mid-life. Harm reduction strategies should pay more attention to drinking in this age group.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kathryn and Emslie, Dr Carol
Authors: Emslie, C., Hunt, K., and Lyons, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Sociology of Health and Illness
Publisher:Blackwell
ISSN:0141-9889
ISSN (Online):1467-9566
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2011 The Authors
First Published:First published in Sociology of Health and Illness 34(4):481-496
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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