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[DON'T DRINK UP] Older adults alcohol abusers shun online recovery tools

Online resources for supporting recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD) are promising but underused, a recent study suggests. The investigators analyzed data from 1,500 US adults who identified as being in recovery from AUD. The data came from a national survey conducted in fall 2020. Participants were part of the KnowledgePanel database, which includes representation from underserved groups that are harder to reach for many surveys. The majority of respondents were 45 and older (61%), including 35% who were 60 and older; 65% were men; 65%, White; and 71% had severe AUD.

About 15% of participants reported ever using online services. The low usage may reflect, in part, the fact that participants skewed older, the study authors suggest -- a finding that highlights the AUD problem among older adults, and their potential lack of support.

The most frequently used type of digital support was social networking sites not focused on recovery (e.g., Facebook). Men were more likely than women to have attended online group meetings and used informational websites about treatment. Participants with more severe lifetime AUD, or who’d received treatment for alcohol problems, or had less than five years in recovery were also more likely to have used online resources. Among women (though not men), a greater number of AUD symptoms was associated with more use of online services.

Overall, younger adults were more likely to report current use of online recovery supports, as well as those with a college education, employment, and relatively high incomes.

The researchers conclude that the expansion of digital recovery supports, such as video meetings, discussion forums, and social networking sites, could potentially help address a substantial unmet need for services, and emphasized the need for equitable access to technology.

To read the full study, "Online support for recovery from alcohol use disorders: Investigating gender differences in lifetime and current use," click here

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