Erik Erikson, a renowned psychologist, developed a theory on the stages of man’s psychosocial development. The last stage, occurring in old age, is all about inner reflection where pride, or guilt and remorse preoccupy people’s thoughts in their twilight years. The latter feelings can easily spiral down into deep depression and despair. According to Abby Ellin of The New York Times, the feeling of shame and loneliness, compounded by retirement and divorce, that befalls many elderly people could for them easily build to a point where they can’t cope well enough at this stage, which has led many of them to escape to worsening substance abuse.
About 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and the number is expected to increase in the following years. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 231,000 people in America over the age of 50 have sought help for their addiction.