Stress associated with retirement, caused by factors such as loneliness and financial pressures, may be associated with an increased risk of substance abuse, a new study suggests.
These stresses often coincide with painful events in later life, such as the death of loved ones and deteriorating health, which can also increase the risk of substance abuse, MedicalXpress reports.
The Tel Aviv University researchers said older adults often lack the skills needed to deal with the sudden vacuum produced by retirement, as well as the death of loved ones and their own health problems.
Retirement can lead to depression, purposelessness and financial pressures, which can raise the risk of drug and alcohol problems, they said.
The findings appear in the Journal of Work, Aging and Retirement.
"We found that the conditions under which people retired—whether they were pushed into it or it was something expected, which they planned for—had great bearing on alcohol and drug habits," said lead researcher Professor Peter A. Bamberger. "The worst combination we found was among people who took early retirement from jobs they loved because they were terrified their companies were going under. Among all groups studied, this one exhibited the highest incidence of substance abuse."
He added, "Even if an individual plans for retirement, he/she might not fully grasp the changes that must be made to his/her lifestyle. As a result, many people experience serious financial straits. Feeling unstable, lonely, and depressed, it isn't surprising perhaps—but it is unfortunate—that many retirees look to alcohol or drugs for comfort."