Concurrent alcohol and medication poisoning hospital admissions among older rural and urban residents

Faika Zanjani, Rachel Smith, Svetla Slavova, Richard Charnigo, Nancy Schoenberg, Catherine Martin, Richard Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: Background: Alcohol and medication interactions are projected to increase due to the growth of older adults that are unsafely consuming alcohol and medications. Plus, aging adults who reside in rural areas are at the highest risk of experiencing medication interactions. Objective: Estimate concurrent alcohol and medication (alcohol/medication) hospitalizations in adults 50+ years, comparing age groups and rural/urban regions. Methods: Kentucky nonfederal, acute care inpatient hospital discharge electronic records for individuals aged 50+ years from 2001 to 2012 were examined. Rate differences were estimated across age and regional strata. Differences in the underlying principal diagnosis, intent, and medications were also examined. Results: There were 2168 concurrent alcohol/medication hospitalizations among 50+ year olds identified. There was a 187% increase in alcohol/medication hospitalizations from 2001 (n = 104) to 2012 (n = 299). The per capita alcohol/medication hospitalization rate increased from 8.91 (per 100,000) in 2001 to 19.98 (per 100,000) in 2012, a 124% increase. The characteristics of the hospitalizations included 75% principal diagnosis as medication poisoning, self-harm as the primary intent (55%) in 50–64-year olds, and unintentional intent (41%) in 65+ adults. Benzodiazepines were most often involved in the poisonings (36.5%). Conclusions: Concurrent alcohol/medication hospitalizations in Kentucky are increasing among aging adults. Greater increases in rural areas and the 65+ aged adults were seen, although there were also higher alcohol/medication hospitalizations in urban and 50–64 aged adults. These findings indicate the need for public-health prevention and clinical intervention to better educate and manage alcohol consuming older adults on safe medication and alcohol practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-430
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis.


  • Aging
  • alcohol
  • medication safety
  • mental health
  • substance misuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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