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Managing licit drug use in later life: Impact on quality of life, cognitive function, and mood



Professor Osvaldo P. Almeida, University of Western Australia.


In partnership with the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation, this project investigates the mental health outcomes of a GP-based health promotion program designed to decrease older adults’ consumption of legal substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines.

The hazardous or harmful consumption of alcohol, smoking, and the chronic use of benzodiazepines all have negative health consequences, such as liver or pancreas disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, falls and fractures. In addition, there is growing evidence that the acute and chronic use of these substances alters mental health outcomes and may contribute to the development of cognitive impairment and depression in later life. Dementia and depression are the fourth and sixth major causes of DALYs lost in Australia.

The aims of this study are to investigate the impact of health promotion intervention on memory and mood in later life; to increase GP’s knowledge of alcohol, sleep problems, and physical activity issues in older adults, and the basic principles of motivational interviewing; and to increase positive attitudes towards the health of older adults.


This study found that problem drinking is under-recognised in the elderly and that excessive alcohol consumption in the elderly is associated with increased falls and fractures, incontinence, poor nutrition, medication interactions, poorer psychological wellbeing, suicide, impaired activities of daily living, and alcohol-related dementia.

In contrast this study found that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and mortality.


Almeida, OP, Pfaff, JJ 2005 Depression and smoking amongst older general practice patients%d4%d5. Journal of Affective Disorders, 86, (2-3):317-321.
Hulse, GK, Lautenschlager, NT, Tait, RJ & Almeida, OP 2005 Dementia associated with alcohol and other drug use%d4%d5. International Psychogeriatrics, 17:109-127
Almeida, OP, Pfaff, JJ 2005 Sleep complaints among older general practice patients: association with depression%d4%d5. British Journal of General Practice. 55(520): 864866.

Recent research papers

FARE continues to fund and undertake research that contributes to the knowledge-base about alcohol harms and strategies to reduce them.

This research is used to inform our approach to evidence-based alcohol policy development, ensuring that the solutions we are advocating for are informed by research. FARE’s research is also often quoted by governments, other not-for-profit organisations and researchers in public discussions about alcohol, demonstrating that FARE is seen as a leading source of information.

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