The lessons to be learned from older drinkers

COMMENT: The return of good weather shouldn’t bring dread

Have your say

Today we reveal that Queen Alexandra Hospital’s Alcohol Specialist Nursing Service is seeing a large proportion of people who are over the retirement age.

To be clear about it, this is not a claim that older people are drinking more than they used to. There may well be evidence that more and more older people are putting their health at risk through so-called ‘middle class’ binge-drinking – opening bottles of wine on too many nights of the week, perhaps – but today’s story is purely about those who have been referred to the team at QA because of their problems, and these people are not representative, nor a random sample, of Portsmouth or the country as a whole.

But that’s not to say that this story doesn’t touch on a wider issue. Consultant hepatologist Richard Aspinall makes a point worth dwelling on when he says that of his patients, ‘the bigger group is often those that have a psychological reason for drinking. The big driver is loneliness, social isolation or bereavement’.

Mr Aspinall is clear that it is not just over-indulgence or irresponsibility that leads people to be unfortunate enough to need the services of the alcohol team, but forms of unhappiness, and this sentiment holds true in our report about the excellent work being carried out by Streets Revolution in Portsmouth.

This project is using football to help those who feel excluded by society to turn their lives around and get back on track. Today we report how many members of the group have overcome problems with drugs, homelessness, alcohol abuse and broken homes to find new confidence and purpose through playing football.

The stories of those involved are inspirational, and the participants – and in particular founder Jim Cook – well deserve any praise that comes their way.

Their success shows that people are happier and more fully involved in society when they feel a sense of self-worth – and that the more ways we can bring people in from the cold, the better it will be for everyone.