Researchers seeking people over 50 who feel stigmatised because of alcohol use Photo by Bence ▲ Boros on Unsplash

University of Bedfordshire researchers are looking for people over the age of 50 from the Bedfordshire area who are experiencing problems with their drinking but haven’t sought help because of the stigma around alcohol problems.

Dr Sarah Wadd, director of the Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team (SMART) at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire, said:

“We know that people experiencing problems with alcohol can feel judged and looked down upon because of their drinking. Sadly, this can lead to feelings of guilt, self-blame, hopelessness and despair and prevent people seeking help.

“Our research is focusing on people over the age of 50 because they may feel the stigma most acutely. So far, we have heard people talk of wrapping their alcohol bottles in frozen peas when walking home from the supermarket so people can’t hear them clanking or going to multiple shops so they aren’t served by the same cashier who would know how much alcohol they were buying.

“No one should be made to feel ashamed because they are experiencing problems with alcohol, just as no one should be made to feel ashamed of mental or physical health problems. The best way to combat stigma is to talk openly about the issue.

“We hope that this research will kick-start that conversation and increase the number of people who seek help.”

The study is part of the Drink Wise Age Well programme, which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. It follows on from a report which revealed evidence of age discrimination in alcohol policy, practice and research.

If you are over the age of 50 and have felt stigmatised because of your drinking but have not sought help, please contact Moe Dutton at SAS@beds.ac.uk for more information about taking part.

You do not have to give your real name. All participants will be given a £20 voucher for their involvement in the study.